THE Children’s Performing Arts Workshop (Chipawo) recently joined the nation and the world in celebrating International Mother Language Day at the Zimbabwe College of Music.
The event, which saw participants from 24 Chipawo Centres across the country gather together, was commemorated under the theme “Mother Tongues and Books” and slogan “Books for Mother Tongue Education”.
Television personality Rebecca Chisamba, who was the guest of honour, read the international message of the day on behalf of Unesco director-general Irina Bokova.
Chisamba also spoke about the adoption of Western cultures by Zimbabweans.
“As much as we try to learn foreign cultures, let’s not shun our own cultures which express whom we are. This day (International Mother Language Day) is a great day to educate Zimbabwean youths to be proud of our own language and culture,” she said.
The celebration marked Chipawo Arts Education for Development and Employment’s first programme of performing activities this year.
In an interview, Chipawo manager Chipo Basopo said this year’s celebrations were a major success and were different from previous events.
“Different Chipawo centres came together and shared the different languages they know, through presentation of plays, dance, song, poems and totemic languages in a bit to promote the importance of mother language,” said Basopo.
As part of the programme, two children from Emerald Hill School gave a presentation teaching other children sign language.
Mother Language Day, celebrated annually on February 21, was proclaimed by the General Conference of Unesco in 1999 to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the people of the world.
Since 2000 Chipawo has commemorated the International Mother Language Day, recognising it as the day that brings children together to express how they value their mother tongues and to acknowledge and appreciate their cultural diversity.
Chipawo is Zimbabwe’s leading Arts Education for Development organisation which has become a platform for children to express themselves and empower them through participatory arts education. It trains children and also exposes their artistic talent through showcasing and performances with other partnerships and in other countries.
It was founded in 1989 by Julie Frederikse, Robert McLaren, Stephen Chifunyise and Farai Gezi. Its main objective is to enrich the cultural knowledge of Zimbabwean children by introducing them to the culture and performing arts of the country and the region.
At present, Chipawo administers a number of different projects, including those focused on arts education, gender and children’s rights, among others.