Robert Ssempijja. Picture: Supplied
Robert Ssempijja. Picture: Supplied

‘JOMBA! Digital Fringe’ winners announced

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Sep 2, 2020

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The digital dance festival, “JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience Digital Fringe” showcased eight digital dance works by dance-makers from South Africa, the DRC, Uganda and Madagascar.

We take a look at the three winners.

In first place was Uganda’s Robert Ssempijja with his work, “The Myth Of Self Isolation”.

This work looks at why Africa makes the same mistakes when it comes to its people, their various cultures and traditions, their religions, political philosophies and institutions.

“It seems we haven’t learned anything from history. Today most of the nations in Africa should not even be called African nations, but Western African nations. The language, political ideology, socio-economic structures, education, and everything that makes up a nation, even down to popular culture, do not originate from within these countries. African nations have a total dependency on foreign political philosophies and ideas, and their shifts and movements,” said Ssempijja.

“Now with Covid-19, knowing the realities on the ground in Africa, many African governments are mentioning that people should social distance, work from home, self-quarantine and regularly wash their hands. Those most likely to be affected are slum dwellers or people in rural areas because they share at least three major challenges: they are poor, uneducated and lack safe water … And anyone who knows the realities of Africa knows very well that those measures are a myth to the African people.”

Watch his work here:

In second place, Durban-based Sabelo Cele with his work “(Rea)-Leaze Chains”.

Cele’s work explores the idea of self-hurt, self-isolation and self medication.

“Society already prescribes a script to which we as individuals should conform. We cannot control how society perceives us, but we can control how we perceive ourselves, and our greatest achievement lies in how we overcome ourselves,” said Cele.

He said the work uses the metaphor of the ocean: that as humans we should explore the shallow and the deep end of the sea without overthinking, worrying we might drown, but be comfortable in knowing there is a possibility that we might breathe under water.

Watch his work here:

In third place, Durban-based Pavishen Paideya with his work “Aham – I Am”.

The work is an exploration of prejudice and discrimination among South African Indians.

“It’s about a community that hides behind traditions and customs to justify their intolerance of anyone different – sexism, colourism, body shaming, gender-based violence, discrimination against the LGBTQI community. Yet the differences and individuality is what creates the vibrant community that is hypocritically celebrated,” said Paideya.

Watch his work here:

The three winners received R2 000, R1 500 and R1 000 respectively.

JOMBA!, which is presented by the Centre for Creative Art, UKZN, continues until September 6. To access the live performances online visit

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