By Lucas Manhice
Gumboot is a dance that was conceived by miners during the apartheid era in South Africa. The dance was created, firstly, as a means of communication in the mines and, secondly, as a form of expression of anger and frustration against the repressive apartheid system that governed South Africa at the time. Over the years, Gumboot developed through the integration of song and traditional dance, and ultimately served as entrainment for the miners and the rest of society.
We as MasterCard Foundation Scholars were fascinated by this dance and wanted to tell its story and as a result formed The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Gumboot Troupe. Through this dance we share the stories of the miners and express the joy we find in being part of the MCF Family. We are comprised of members from 8 African countries and each of us bring in a unique piece of our culture into the dance. For instance, Rachel Nanteza from Uganda incorporates vibrant and energetic movements into our routines. Additionally, Dr. Isaac Kalumbu, the Program Manager for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at Michigan State University (MSU) is from Zimbabwe and contributes his experience in music to enrich the rhythms and songs of our dance.
We have so far participated in over 10 performances on the MSU campus and in the Greater Lansing area. Our performances have received accolades and enthusiastic feedback from our audiences. My most memorable performance was at an Africa Night event at Lewton Elementary School in Lansing where we performed and taught our dance to a group students and teachers. Our group had its highlight recently when it performed at the MSU International Studies and Programs Award Ceremony at which the MSU President, LouAnna K. Simon was present. We are currently learning new and exciting routines which will be incorporated into our performances for the coming semester.
Leading our team has helped me to know and understand my fellow Scholars on a deeper level. In addition, it created a space where I can be vulnerable and receive constructive feedback about my leadership philosophy and learn from others. Most importantly it has strengthened my understanding of the process of growing an idea through instilling a passion for it in other people. I will reflect upon and apply these skills when leading infrastructural enterprises that I plan to undertake across Africa in the future.