APPENDIX I. The Songs and Dances of Tshikanda

Since most of the songs, dances, rites and milayo of tshikanda are the same as those of vhusha, I shall discuss here only a few that seem to be peculiar to tshikanda. I shall not give any of the milayo, because they are revised at domba.

As at vhusha, a girl has all her body hair shaved when she enters tshikanda, so that 'she is like a new-born baby'. For certain rites she is completely naked, but in most cases she wears the normal pubic covering (she) of Venda girls.

Instruction and dancing take place every night in the council hut. As at vhusha, the bass drum (ngoma) is not used; it is reserved for domba and the national dance, tshikona. The metre of songs is played with a stick on the tenor drum (thungwa), which is accompanied by two or three conical alto drums (mirumba) that are played with the hands. The main ritual song of tshikanda is exactly the same as that of vhusha: a characteristic rhythm is accompanied by khulo, a style of singing in which hocket technique is combined with a tone quality not unlike yodelling. The Venda say that the rhythm of this song announces: , , tshi mbumba (the moon, the moon, it washes the vagina). This refers to a girls monthly courses, which are described euphemistically as 'seeing the moon'. The novices, and sometimes their instructors, dance this standing up, to a slow shuffling step, with their arms folded over their breasts.

All other dances at tshikanda are like the ndayo of vhusha: with folded arms, two, three, or four performers execute a variety of movements to the accompaniment of songs based on added metres. These strenuous, quasi-gymnastic dances are not easy to do, and require muscular strength as well as co-ordination of movement. Both before and after dancing, novices perform the Venda greeting (u losha) in a special way. They sit with arms folded and heads lowered, and when it is their turn to dance, they perform losha by lying on their left side, facing inwards with their hands together and fingers curled, and their legs drawn up almost to a foetal position; after dancing, they perform losha in a similar way, but lie on the right and then their left sides. When I discussed the meaning of these positions, people said they were designed to make the girls humble. They were deferential versions of the normal women's greeting, and were not considered to have any special symbolic significance. I noticed also that not all girls did the same thing. However, on another occasion an expert on initiation insisted that the side on which girls performed losha was important: a novice (mutei) should perform losha on her left side, and an initiated girl (mudabe) on her right, so that if a girl at tshikanda performed losha on her right side, she had already been to vhusha or domba.

Several songs of tshikanda refer to specific stages or features of the school, but they are also sung out of context as part of a night's music.

 Song No. 4  Song No. 8
 Song No. 5  Song No. 9
 Song No. 6  Song No. 10
 Song No. 7