Before Zimbabwe gained its independence from Britain, it was known as Rhodesia. In the 1980’s Salisbury, the capital city, today now known as Harare, was a popular hub for breaking and had a high influence amongst the youth.
Between the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s the Bboy scene died out after Zimbabwe gained its independence.
2009 saw the reintroduction of this artform through Jibilika. An organization that has been the most consistent drive for Zimbabwean Hip-hop dance culture. Despite the economic challenges experienced by the country, Jibilika managed to faithfully keep the dream alive for dancers by attaining the licence to host battle of the year (BOTY) Zimbabwe.
Jibilika has been active since 2007, with the aim to promote dance and use it not only to entertain but also educate the youth about various issues affecting our society.
The Bboy scene in Zimbabwe saw its biggest growth during BOTY. It was a revolution whose impact was unprecedented. From having a mere 4-5 crews participate in the competition, this number grew to at least 12 crews in the years following its introduction. The platform helped encourage and nurture breaking talent.
The competition was put on hold in 2012. This saw a number of Bboys leave the country and even more stopped dancing. Other competitions also came to a hold, such as the Undisputed, Breakdown and Zim’s Finest Dance Group. As a result of this decline in contests, the culture remained stagnant.
However, Jibilika, through workshops, it’s annual festival and monthly cyphers has played a key role in keeping the culture alive.
Jibilika also runs free weekly community dance classes in several high-density neighbourhoods the programs are conducted by volunteer trainers and aims to empower the youth with skills and prevent drug abuse and crime.
Another one of their community outreach programs is Step Up to HIV. This project uses elements of “popular” youth culture as a medium to ‘step up’ the fight against HIV and AIDS. It was launched in 2012 with support from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In conclusion, more competitions and platforms that support breaking are required sustain Hip-hop in all parts of Africa. Maybe the answer isn’t spending large sums of money on obtaining licences to host international Hip-hop competitions but rather creating our own events that advocates our own unique African essence.
To get in touch with Jibilika you can use the following
Twitter – Jibilika
Instagram – Jibilika
Pamamonya Ipapo, Fungie Chana