The Xibelani skirt is a traditional Tsonga skirt that Mama Mirriam has worn since she was a young girl and to this day she continues to wear it with a cloth that is draped across one shoulder, called Minceka. She explains that the Xibelani skirt is quite versatile and can be worn to traditional events such as Ntlangu, Nkhuvu or even Tikhomba – a coming of age ceremony for ladies. Tikhomba is similar to the isiZulu ceremony called “umemulo", a rite of passage ritual into womanhood, where elderly women pass on their knowledge to younger women. She then smiles a little as she mentions how not so long ago they hosted Tikhomba for her daughter and now she’s getting married.
She then gets up to show us the dance she will be doing at her daughter’s wedding which is the Xibelani dance. She explains how perfecting this dance takes practice and describes how the dance isdone through a considerable amount of hip and feet coordination in order to move the Xibelani skirt with flair. The movement is usually dictated by the music which determines how fast or how slow one has to move their feet and waist. The Makhwaya dance is a dance performed by men and young boys at these events of celebration. The male attire is called Tinjhovo; she also knows how to make the male attire and she mentions how rare it is to find people who can make both in the traditional way it has been made for centuries. These days people have added a modern spin to the Xibelani and Tinjhovo, which is something that is really unsettling for Mama Mirriam. “It’s like we are diluting our culture. People don’t want to learn about the right way to make these things, especially young people,” she adds.