Zimbabwe’s leading performing group celebrates the coming of age

OUR HISTORY, our pride & the future


Siyaya was established as a professional arts company in 1999 by a team of gifted artists, talented actors, singers and dancers. The main pursuit was to create an arts company with a strong touring policy producing and presenting music, dance, theatre and new work at festivals, schools and venues the world over.

Firmly rooted in Makokoba, Bulawayo’s oldest township, Siyaya Arts was first started in 1989 as NASA (Nostalgic Actors & Singers Alliance). We rechristened ourselves Siyaya (On the Move) during our 10th anniversary; a literal description of our journeys all over the world, as well as of an identity, an ethos and a heartfelt belief, the name could not be more apt. The ‘nostalgia’ Siyaya was founded upon refers to the powerful reinterpretation of traditional tales, music and dance, which is often brought to life by relating them to their modern derivatives.


This philosophy further identifies with the group’s long term view and vision that Siyaya will survive from perpetual succession and our work will live from generation to generation. Our work is mostly made from human voice, hand clapping and foot stamping – it’s natural, though of late other percussion instruments like marimba, hosho, djembes, mbira, ngoma etc. have further helped us create unique music, dance and theatre pieces

Siyaya arts was started in Makokoba Township in September 1989 by 5 young artists led by the late Mike Sobiko. This ambitious arts group is now led by Saimon Mambazo Phiri who has successfully carved a good reputation particularly for his imaginative manipulation and use of social issues in Siyaya productions. With the immediate support of the Bulawayo community and most important our families Siyaya has blossomed into an international performing arts outfit that has entertained audiences from London to Aberdeen, Johannesburg to Frankfurt, not only performances but exchange programmes, collaborations, residences, workshops and talks in promoting understanding and oneness.


Over the years artists have been part of the group, some getting the necessary training and moving on to other projects. The current group has been growing as a unit for the past 12 years, they is a strong thread of professionalism running through the group now as each artist is now assigned a specific business, artistic or technical role. Roles such as publicity, finance, production and tour management are rested in the hands of the artists.

Siyaya has been a self funded group since inception hence the artists earning contribute 70% to the sustenance of the group as a whole and all our projects. The shows taking place in 2008 and parts of 2009 are an effort to fundraise for our 20th anniversary activities and initiatives. On the top of the list is the securing of land to build a “Siyaya School of Arts & Management Centre”. The aim of this “creative school” amongst many others is to train, in a serious way, artists in various skills that range from creative, management, artistic and technical. Extra curricular activities will include research and study in African music, theatre and dance, carry out exchange programmes, do linkages and above all serve the community as an arts centre and endless good causes.



  • Two major concerts with top selling artists, one in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and the other in Sheffield, UK (February & September 2009)
  • Regional tour of Southern Africa (February 2009)
  • International tour of Europe / USA / Australia & Asia (February – November 2009)
  • Ibumba International Festival 2009 (December)


  • Young Siyaya programme and Summer school
  • Workshops, residences, cultural exchanges and collaborations
  • Networking

The HUB Project (Makokoba)

  • Renovations, Uplifting and use of old community rooms at Stanley Square in Makokoba
  • Equipping the offices, rehearsal rooms and technical stores with relevant equipment for a professional entity like Siyaya
  • Developing a strong technical back up for Siyaya by investing in a PA system and adequate lighting rig and dimmer system for use at the HUB project and during Ibumba festival

The Future — Siyaya School of Arts & Management Centre

The coming of age of Siyaya has meant we look at where we have come from, where we have been, where we are now and what we want to do in the future. The “Siyaya School of Arts” is a concept we want to bring into fruition just after the 20th anniversary project. The Proposed Structure of the School will comprise:

  • Studio Theatre – seating capacity 200 people
  • Dance Studio, Studio Theatre, Music Studio and Rehearsal Rooms
  • Lecture Rooms
  • Dressing Rooms and Toilets
  • Technical Stores
  • Box Office
  • Coffee Shop & Kitchen
  • Gallery / Library
  • Offices
  • Guest rooms
  • Post production, Audio /Video studios
  • Conference Hall

The school can be built from the ground or alternatively the already existing Stanley Hall can be, renovated and converted.


Celebrate with us — help us fundraise

“The Music, the Dance, the Theatre & the Celebration — Celebrating Two Decades In the Making

Thank you for reading this far. Please be part of this historic part of Siyaya and indeed the future of Africa’s talent.

How to Support

There are unlimited ways of supporting our various activities, programmes and projects among others:

  • Donate cash at our concerts and insist on a receipt
  • Write a cheque to the “Friends of Siyaya”
  • Buy our merchandise that includes the new Double CD, T – shirts, Mugs, Calendars, caps, Rubber Bands, Bracelets, Hoods, post cards, towels, pens, Rulers, Pencils, Vests, Canvas Bags, Autographed Posters etc. during our live shows
  • Any other relevant donations in cash or kind are welcome

A fund to which all those wishing to make their contributions has been set up. Please send email to javas@siyaya-arts.com to get more information.

Find out more about the fund at www.siyaya-arts.com or join our mailing list to receive updates. September 2008 will see the launch of the 20th Anniversary project in Sheffield, UK. Serialised launches will follow in other parts of the world during our tours.

You could sponsor any or all of the Activities, Programmes or Projects.

Be a volunteer, a friend of Siyaya, a donor, a part sponsor, an adviser.

Siyaya willed a casual mid-afternoon WOMAD audience into whooping ovations through sheer musicality and energy

See Siyaya Live

  Date Show Location