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The Elephant Dance

Once upon a time, in a small village in Zimbabwe, lived a man named Gwinyai, and his wife, Chikwaira. Everyone looked up
to them. He was strong and determined, and looked out for everyone in the village. She was kind and beautiful, and was
known to be the best dancer in the region.
The villagers were all hard working people and everyone helped to gather food and water, so that no one would go

One day, Gwinyai was on his way to the river to catch some fish for dinner. Upon arriving, he let out a piercing scream.
The villagers came running. They all stood there in shock - the river was dry. Not one drop of water was left.
How will we survive? How will the animals survive?! they agonised.
All eyes turned to Gwinyai, looking for guidance, wishing for a miracle.

Gwinyai went home and sat down with his wife, Chikwaira. They talked all night, trying to find a solution. Chikwaira
remembered an old story from her grandmother.
The elephants have a powerful dance, she said. It can make any wish come true! But how will we get them to dance
At those words, Gwinyai took out his old drum. I know how, he said, with a determined look on his face.
The next morning, he was up early. Chikwaira wished him luck as he went on his way.

Gwinyai walked for miles, carrying his drum around his neck. When he finally reached the elephant herd, he got out his
sticks and started to play. The earth reverberated to the rhythm of his music. His own heart started to beat faster
and faster as his excitement grew. He willed for the elephants to get up and dance and for the river to flow back to
life. Alas, the elephants just laid there, unenthused by the music. But Gwinyai refused to give up.

He ran back to the village as fast as he could.

Quickly everyone! he called out excitedly, waving his arms up and down to get their attention. I need your help! Bring
your instruments and come with me! We shall play for the elephants and they will bring back the river!
So with their drums, flutes and horns, they followed him to the elephant herd, with Chikwaira by his side.

They all started playing together in one same beat. Once again, the earth shook to the rhythm with more vigour. Even
the trees seemed to sway to the music. The elephants started to stir. At that moment, Chikwaira came forward and
moved her body graciously to the beat. And the drummers began to sing with booming voices.
Finally, the elephants joined together in a circle and danced

Dzana, dzana zhou, zhou!

Unzira mukwerere
Unzira mukwerere!
- Dance, dance elephants! Bring us rain! -

There was a loud rumble, and the villagers turned to see water gushing down from the mountains, flowing towards them
and filling up the riverbeds. They all rejoiced as they watched the animals gather to drink.

The villagers returned home, still singing and dancing, exhilarated. The elephants had brought back the river.
They held a celebration in honour of Gwinyai and his wife Chikwaira. They ate, drank, danced and cheered.
From then on, at the same time every year, they celebrated the elephant dance.

The End

Story by Sarah Nichols