BY TENDAI SAUTA
CULTURE Fund Zimbabwe director Farai Mupfunya, officially launched the Harare province Culture Month 2022 at Patsime Cultural Heritage Centre in Chitungwiza on Wednesday with celebrations showcasing music, poetry and visual art.
Mupfunya hailed the organisers of this year’s culture month celebrations themed Celebrating Cultural Diversity: Leaving no one behind, saying this fostered the continued respect for Zimbabwean and African values, while creating spaces for cultural growth and resilience.
“Many of you will know that on 21 May each year, United Nation’s Unesco encourages peoples of the world to celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. We are all encouraged to appreciate and promote the diversity of our cultural expressions, honour and preserve those expressions we inherited,” said Mupfunya.
“In 2022, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe started these culture celebrations over one day and then over a week. Now, we have the opportunity of doing so over a whole month. Today people of Chitungwiza carry the honour of being the provincial centre for Culture Month Celebrations.”
He challenged investors in the creative sector to emulate Rumbidzai Dihwa who established the Patsime Cultural Heritage Centre which houses a traditional home, artefacts, recreational spaces and balanced rocks in addition to its assertive value in cultural preservation, restoration and restitution of social and economic enhancement and growth.
“We have the opportunity to appreciate the joys culture can bring. We can support opportunities for creatives, especially the young, to make a living out if it. We could better focus on positive aspects of culture, those that will make all of us more peaceful and prosperous.
“Yes, some aspects of culture remain negative like those that make us poorer, spiritually, morally and economically. Let us find ways to make our communities more open to appreciate our cultural diversities. Maybe this can help us build better communities where cultures of harmony and cohesion are valued and contribute to peace,” Mupfunya added.
Acting head of Harare province in the Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation ministry, Tawanda Chikono, said because culture was the integration of all aspects of human life it had to be celebrated and preserved.
“Culture Month celebration is of paramount importance since it provides the opportunity for us Zimbabweans to showcase our intangible and tangible heritage that we need to preserve for posterity. These celebrations provide an opportunity for people to deepen their understanding of cultural diversity.
“Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music to arts hence no one can run away from their cultural identity,” Chikono said.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Tawanda Matende highlighted the intricate link between culture and language.
Matende, who is developing pedagogy and syntax for sign language in Zimbabwe and has become emeritus as a sign language teacher, has choreographed a sign dance for Jah Prayzah’s Mudhara Vachauya song.
He said the dance was a clear demonstration that language and culture are inexorably interwoven and the Culture Month launch incorporated sign language, even the singing of the national anthem.
“As we celebrate the culture week it is pertinent to say that language and culture are inextricably interwoven and all languages despite the numerical sizes of people who use it must be promoted,” Matende pointed out.
“We need to respect and accept one another so that we can make all kinds of cultures thrive and create a more colourful and harmonious world. The values of cultural diversity involve respect for and acceptance of different cultures. By incorporating different cultures we can ignite brighter sparks that inspire innovations and excellence in our lives, workplaces, communities and the world.”
Matende noted that the deaf community in Zimbabwe has been marginalised and relegated to the periphery. He also said cultural diversity should be promoted by different stakeholders to achieve the country’s Vision 2030 which prioritised inclusive growth.
“I challenge the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe to include people who are deaf in theatre production, music, dancing, literature, film, fine arts and visual arts. Access to information for people who are deaf has been a huge perennial problem which has thwarted the majority of people with hearing impairments from actualising their potential and to participate in socio-economic development of the nation,” he added.
In his opening remarks, Harare National Arts Council provincial manager William Ndinde said: “Let us celebrate our cultural heritage because it counts on our identity as Zimbabwe.”
Patsime Heritage and Cultural Centre managing director, Rumbidzai Dihwa, said the Culture Month celebrations were important because they “help us to keep in memory our cultural heritage. This place was born out of a desire to curate, uphold and preserve our culture. It was meant to complement government’s efforts”.
The exhibiting stands had the likes of Aauwena Gallery, Music Crossroads, Zimbabwe College of Music, Chitungwiza Arts Centre, Zimbabwe Women Empowerment Trust and Castly Market Place, which all seemed to be calling for the creation of resilient places for cultural learning, growth and development.
Cultural curator Thelma Boettrick said an event like this was a welcome development in the arts sector and should be used as a stepping stone for marketing and selling of arts and crafts.
As speeches were read and guests toured the site, music, dance, poetry and theatre performances reverberated in people’s ears prompting many to smile, laugh and dance.
There were enthralling performances by Kuchinda Cultural Dance, Zimbabwe College of Music, Music Crossroads Academy, Elysium Enigma Dance Theatre, Mary Anabel, Zengeza High 1, Terry’s Day Care Centre and Mbira Dzevambire featuring the young girl Sheron Mateura.
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