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Mbende also known as Jerusarema, comes from the Zezuru people of western Mashobaland of Zimbabwe. Originally, this dance was performed exclusively during the marriage ceremony of a chief's daughter but it is now open to all men and women of marrying age. The dance movements are "sexual in nature"; mimicking courtship and sexual encounters but at the same time exhibiting sexual prowess of both men and women : The Mbende Jerusarema Dance is a popular dance style practiced by the Zezuru Shona people living in eastern Zimbabwe, especially in the Murewa and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe districts. The dance is characterized by acrobatic and sensual movements by women and men, driven by a polyrhythmic drummer accompanied by men playing woodblock clappers and by women handclapping, yodelling and blowing whistles. Unlike other drum-based East African dance styles, the MbendeJerusarema does not rely on intricate foot stamping or a large number of drummers. Instead, the music is performed by one master drummer, and no songs or lyrics are involved. In the course of the dance, men often crouch while jerking both arms and vigorously kicking the ground with the right leg in imitation of a burrowing mole. The dances curious name reveals much about its vicissitudes over the centuries. Before colonial rule, this ancient fertility dance was called Mbende, the Shona word for mole, which was regarded as a symbol of fertility, sexuality and family. Under the influence of Christian missionaries, who strongly disapproved of this sexually explicit dance, the dances name was changed to Jerusarema, deriving from the Shona adaptation of the name of the city of Jerusalem, to endow it with a religious connotation. Both names are commonly used today. In spite of its condemnation by the missionaries, the dance remained popular and became a source of pride and identity in the struggle against colonial rule. The dance is changing its character and meaning as its enactment as an exotic animation for tourist audiences becomes more widespread. It is also increasingly used at political party rallies, where it is removed from all its original intentions. The mitumba drum, rattles and whistles, which used to accompany the dance, have successively been replaced by instruments of poor quality, contributing to the loss of the uniqueness of the Mbende music.
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