By Khumbulani Muleya
Members of the private sector, conservation partners, and invited guests gathered at the National
Gallery of Zimbabwe this past Tuesday amidst breath-taking photography displays in honor of
AWF’s 60th -anniversary celebrations and the Zimbabwe premiere of the Benjamin Mkapa African
Wildlife Photography awards exhibition ceremony.
The exhibition showcases photographs of Africa’s diverse ecosystems and aims to engage
creatives and encourage young Africans to become advocates for conservation and sustainable
development is currently displayed in Harare and will be going around the world, having been in
Nairobi, London, and California.
The next stop is Tanzania on July 1 and then it will be displayed in
parallel with the first African parks congress dubbed African Protected Areas Congress (APAC)
running from the 18th to the 23rd of July in Kigali, Rwanda where the continent is expected to
convene and decide the future of its parks and natural reserves.
AWF is the largest non-governmental organization that is focused entirely on the conservation of wild
life and wild lands in Africa.
Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the event Dr Philip Muruthi
the Vice President, Species, Conservation, and Science at Africa Wildlife Foundation said,
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“Our key aim is to make sure that wildlife is central to the sustainable development of our continent. We
don’t make a distinction between wildlife conservation and development, they have to go together.
If any country or community says they are going to do conservation or do development separately
from conservation or conservation separately from development they will be making a mistake.”
Two years ago the organization as a way of self-retrospection drew up a strategic vision that has key
goals to be achieved in the next 10 years such as making sure that conservation is led by Africans.
Delivering remarks on behalf of AWF CEO Kaddu Sebunya Dr. Philip Muruthi reiterated that there is
no separation between conservation and development.
“This is why our 10-year vision is a commitment to strengthening and mainstreaming wildlife conservation into all sectors of the African
economy. This vision has African people, and African conservation leadership, at its core,
“We identified Zimbabwe as one of four focal priority countries where we shall channel most of our
investment and resources,” He added
AWF has been in the country since the 1990s working closely with Zimparks.
Simangaliso Ndlovu the minister of Environment Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in his key
note speech delivered by Permanent Sec Mr. Munesuishe Munodawafa said the exhibition has the
ability to inspire the people of Zimbabwe to pursue and explore careers in conservation and
stimulate a culture of conservation among local communities.
AWF Zimbabwe Country Director Olivia Mufute in a speech read on her behalf by AWF Zimbabwe
Program Manager Simon Muchatibaya said
“This gala and photo exhibition provides us an opportunity to look back at the progress that AWF has made in the past 60 years, not just in
Zimbabwe but across Africa,
“We are using the competition to celebrate people who work tirelessly
to conserve wildlife and those whose lives are positively and negatively impacted by the reality of
living with ‘wildlife in their backyards.”
Complementing the work of photographers who have their snapshots as part of the exhibition the
Benjamin Mkapa’s photography exhibition is juxtaposed by a number of artifacts that were put
together last year as an exhibition titled Africa Speaks, which according to Executive Director at NGZ
Mr. Raphael Chikukwa was meant to celebrate and communicate the ideas of repatriation of African
artifacts. “Some of the artifacts express how wildlife co-exists with the objects on display”. He said.
Entries for the 2022 edition of the competition have been closed until next year. The exhibition
which is comparable to the internationally renowned World Press Photo exhibition which used to be
organized by the Dutch Embassy and hosted by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe some decades ago
will be on display in Harare until June 30 after which it will be displayed in Arusha, Tanzania.