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Nambi to inspire women through theatric dance production

Ugandan choreographer Lillian Nabaggala (R) leads members of her team through a practice session in 2023. PHOTO/HANDOUT

Renowned dance artist Lillian Nabaggala will be looking to inspire four exceptional female dancers including Sharlot Kawesa, Salam Nattabi, Haula Nambooze and Rachael Nakato in a one-hour dance production titled Nambi in a major performing arts event in Kampala.

Also known as “The African Shield Maidens” by Batalo East, the event is due August 25, 26 and 27 at the National theatre in Uganda.

Together, using their choreography abilities, the five Ugandan performers are already bringing to life the stories of influential historical figures such as Ya Asnataawa (Queen of the Ashanti Empire in Ghana), Nzinga of Angola, Ahosi Mino (leader of the Dahomey Amazons), Amanirenus (ruler of the Meroitic Kingdom in Northeast Africa), and Queen Sheba of Ethiopia.

Now, the African Shield Maidens is a powerful dance theater production that also aims “to inspire women and highlight their significant contributions to society, regardless their social standing.”

According to choreographer Nabaggala, Nambi draws inspiration from the Buganda mythology that believes Nambi was the first female on earth.

By exploring this historical narrative, the production establishes a connection with Uganda’s rich cultural heritage.

“It underscores the strength and resilience that every woman possesses, encouraging them to hold their heads high and stand up for their beliefs, regardless of their background,” organizers say.

Nambi also acknowledges the crucial roles played by women in Ugandan society, ranging from influential queens like Nagginda Sylvia of Buganda and Best Kemigisha of Toro and royals like Princess Bagaya.

The art also caters for ordinary lives by for instance focusing on a casual woman vending ‘Mandazi’ on the street to feed and provide for her family.

Dance and drama observers conclude that “this production challenges the prevailing gender roles for women in contemporary African traditional societies, showcasing the lessons that can be learned from the extraordinary female warriors, army chiefs, and entrepreneurs of ancient times.”

About Nambi

Initially created in 2017 with three dancers, Nambi evolved into a larger production in 2018, featuring five talented performers.

A short dance film capturing the essence of the piece was also shot in 2019.

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