A RIOT OF COLOUR
Bobby McFerrin's 'Don't worry, be happy' plays through the speakers of the Landy Discovery 3's, which alongside the Defenders we are using on this Boundless expedition. Through the red dust the Landies pull into a gathering at the village of Dhavata where the Gonarezhou themed art competition has grown into a wonderfully festive occasion, it's a riot of colour and dance as Shangani women dressed in their white, pink, green and yellow traditional barberas ballooning out from their hips and matching headdresses and long strings of beads around their necks, dance the chinombela.
They smile and greet each expedition member by the hand. Chief Sengwe, Lisimati Makoti immaculately dressed in his red toga, sash, badges and pith helmet, proudly welcomes us. Today's event is one of the best, It's simplicity is endearing - a humble classroom on the banks of the Limpopo has for the morning been turned into a wonderful art gallery.
Prizes go to young Learmore Masvanganye for his striking picture of a Gonarezhou elephant, the river and mountains, Sydrick Khambani for his drawing of villagers trying to chase buffalo out of a maize field, indicating the need for the Transfrontier conservation vision to incorporate the communities in and adjacent to these areas. With pencil andcrayon Shepard Mathonsi has depicted a sad and tearful elephant that had stepped on a landmine. But smiling little Samuel au Dodza takes first prize, he's used his fingers and a mixture of sand and mud to give his elephant texture, there's even a guinea fowl adorned with real feathers.
Tapping their feet and wiggling their hips to the rhythm, the crowd chants with delight. The drums beat; sticks are pointed skywards and calabash leg rattles shake in the frenetic foot-stomping Muchongolo dance.
A whistle blows - "Quiet!" orders the MC as three young school children dressed in maroon uniforms march in. "I have a dream," they recite, "of one day living with the animals, animals sharing with people, of man and animal living together in the great Transfrontier." We pitch our tents in the chief's compound. Tomorrow we leave for Crooks Corner.
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