Toyi Toyi dance originated from Zimbabwe mainly during the apartheid period as a form of protest. The Toyi Toyi dance apparently, was created by the the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) to express their protests through dance. Furthermore, it was from the Zimbabweans that the South Africans learnt this dance style. In addition, in the year 2004 a “blanket ban” was issued on this dance style by Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe as he feared that it would be used against him as a form of protest.

a. History and origin of the Toyi-Toyi Dance:

It was during a period of political turmoil when southern Africa was engulfed by “Apartheid” that this dance style was first developed in Zimbabwe. It was created by the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) (used commonly during the apartheid in South Africa) as a form of protest.  Furthermore, it was mainly after the Soweto massacre (in which about 700 protesting school children were killed) that occurred in 1976 in South Africa that this dance form was put into action with great fervour as a form of protest, thus intensifying the anti-apartheid movement. In fact during this period one activist involved in the protests against apartheid candidly admitted that “The toyi-toyi was our weapon. We did not have technology of warfare, the tear gas, the tanks, but we had this weapon”.

b. Costumes used in the Toyi Toyi Dance:

Since this dance is essentially performed during “protests” there are no particular costumes required.

c. Music involved in the Toyi-Toyi:

Since this is essentially a “protest dance” there is no music involved and includes mainly “chanting” of slogans.

d. Training availability and the technique involved in the Toyi-Toyi Dance:

In terms of technique, this dance is extremely simplistic and involves “stomping of the feet” along with “chanting of slogans”. As for training centres/schools, there are none available around the world since this “unique” dance was mainly used as a form of “protest” during the apartheid period that had badly affected the social fabric of Southern Africa.

e. Toyi-Toyi Dance Videos:

Toyi Toyi Dance
A How to Toyi-Toyi Guide for Dummies
Toyi-Toyi scene from the film ‘Stander’ based on the 1979 Soweto riots
Toyi Toyi by Harding Secondary Students
Sarafina (1992) “Oliver Tambo thetha no Botha” – A scene from the legendary South African musical by Mbongeni Ngema.
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