Ingoma Ya Mapiko


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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding

© MICULTUR, Mozambique, 2022

The mapiko dance is a celebratory dance practiced by the Makonde people of Mozambique. A part of the traditional rite of passage from puberty to adulthood, the dance is performed in an enclosure, usually under mango trees, with dancers, musicians and the public coming together to celebrate the initiation rite. The dance may also be performed for the funeral of a group member or for entertainment. It is a theatrical performance involving several dancers who perform alone or as a group, wearing masks that represent animals or people. They are accompanied by drums and a choir of women and men standing opposite each other. In between the dances, the choir also dances and sings provocative songs, challenging and provoking the masked men and people from neighbouring villages. The mapiko dance is transmitted during initiation rites. It symbolizes human spirit, harmony with the cosmos, and the fight between good and evil, and is viewed as a means of overcoming fear. It also seeks to restore a balance between the masculine and the feminine. For the practising communities, mapiko is a means of transmitting ancestral values, beliefs and customs and of helping youth familiarize themselves with the transformations of their bodies as they reach maturity.