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Toyi-toyi is a Southern African dance originally from Zimbabwe by Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) forces that has long been used in political protests in South Africa.[1]

Toyi-toyi could begin as the stomping of feet and spontaneous chanting during protests that could include political slogans or songs, either improvised or previously created. Some sources claim that South Africans learned it from Zimbabweans.

Use during Apartheid[edit]

Toyi-toyi was often very successful in intimidating the South African troops. The toyi-toyi was also used with chants such as the African National Congress's "Amandla" ("power") and "Awethu" ("ours") or the Pan African Congress's "One Settler, One Bullet".

After the 1976 Soweto massacre, the movement became more militant in the struggle for liberation. The toyi-toyi, a military march dance and song style became commonplace in massive street demonstrations. As one activist puts it, "The toyi-toyi was our weapon. We did not have the technology of warfare, the tear gas and tanks, but we had this weapon."[2]

Current use in South Africa[edit]

After Apartheid ended, people have used toyi-toyi to express their grievances against current government policies. Use of the dance has become very popular during recent service delivery protests and among trade unions, and some South Africans have used it in violent attacks against refugees. The country's independent social movements such as Abahlali baseMjondolo and the Anti-Eviction Campaign have begun using toyi-toyi and other liberation protest strategies for their anti-government protests. [3][4] The Anti-Privatisation Forum has come out with a CD that they see as a compilation of music specially for toyi-toying.[5]


The UK band, UB40, incorporated the "Amandla, Awethu" chant into Sing Our Own Song from the 1986 album Rat In The Kitchen.

In October 2004 Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe banned toyi-toyi even indoors because of its use as a protest.[6]


  1. ^ What's the Deal with the Toyi-Toyi, by Lisa Nevitt,Cape Town Magazine, November 2010
  2. ^ "The Toyi-Toyi of Southern Africa". Power to the People. 
  3. ^ "Use of Toyi-Toyi by the AEC". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 
  4. ^ What's the Deal with the Toyi-Toyi, by Lisa Nevitt,Cape Town Magazine, November 2010
  5. ^ "GMusic to toyi-toyi to". Mail & Guardian. 
  6. ^ "The Toyi-Toyi of Southern Africa". Power to the People. 

See also[edit]