BaTonga cultural village for Kariba

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Women Affairs deputy minister Jennifer Mhlanga addressing stakeholders at an interface meeting in Kariba on Thursday

BY OBERT SIAMILANDU

NYAMINYAMI Rural District Council chief executive Cletus Matingwina says the local authority was working towards reviving the arts and culture industry in the district by opening a Tonga Cultural Village in Siakobvu.

Formerly known as the Siakobvu Craft Centre, the Tonga Cultural Village, according to Matingwina, will be the embryo of the BaTonga Arts and Culture in the resort town of Kariba.

Matingwina made the remarks last week during a meeting with Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development deputy minister Jennifer Mhlanga and other stakeholders in Kariba.

“As council we have a craft centre (Siakobvu Craft Centre) which has been malfunctioning for years and this year we want to revive it. We are changing its name to Tonga Arts and Cultural Village,” he said.

“Our main objective is to sell the arts and culture of the Tonga people to the world for the benefit of local tourism. Women and youths will also benefit through employment.”

The BaTonga people, who are of  central Africa origin, arrived in Zimbabwe about AD300.

Their ancestors favoured areas along the Zambezi, Kana, Mzola and Tshongokwe rivers in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

They grew crops such as millet (nzembwe), sorghum (mayila) and others in the rich soils along rivers, while supplementing this in a large part with wild plants, wild animals and most importantly fish.

The Tonga people were later displaced from the shores of the Zambezi River in the late 1950’s when Kariba Dam was built. Their forced resettlement resulted in serious disruptions of their socio-economic and cultural environment.

Having settled for years along the river, they have now relocated and settled in Binga, Kariba, Gokwe North, Hwange and other parts of the country.

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