Ndayo (lit. orders, instructions from -laya, advice, impart wisdom) were an essential part of the rites of vhusha and tshikanda. They were more in the nature of physical exercises, and quite unlike other styles of Venda dancing. The function of ndayo can best be described in the words of one mistress of initiation: "Ndayo are there to make the girls suffer and honour the old ones. They reinforce the pattern of seniority. That is the lesson they teach." Some were designed to reinforce specific instructions about behaviour, although the movements often seemed to have little to do with the specific lessons they were meant to impart.

Ndayo were usually danced by two girls at a time. An instructor showed the novices the movements and played the drum whilst they practised them. The exercises were accompanied by songs that were little more than jingles expressing only a single thought or phrase. The instructor performed the calls, whilst the initiates responded with the chorus as they danced. When several ndayo were performed in succession, it seemed that the choice of each song was influenced by the rhythm, and sometimes by the melody, of its predecessor, rather than by the words. Furthermore, song-leaders rarely sang more than one or two different 'lines', and in both solo and chorus parts words were often replaced by syllables such as ahee, uwee, yowee etc.

The basic position and movements of most ndayo dances were:

(i) The dancers would squat, with arms folded against the chest in the schools' humble position (losha).

    (ii) They rose to a crouching position.

    (iii) They shuffled their feet rapidly or 'jabbed' the metatarsal arch into the ground in time to the different multiple rhythms of each song.

    (iv) Very often, as the dancers rose rapidly from the squat to the crouch position, they would swing their arms downward. This movement made it easier to raise the body rapidly.

    (v) Similarly, when they resumed the squatting position, they threw up their arms, bending them at the elbow.


    Vhusha Song No. 37 was accompanied by these dance steps.

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