Minister Moyo meets SA journalists on cultural exchange programme Minister Richard Moyo

Nqobile Tshili, [email protected]

MATABELELAND  North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo has said the xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa are barbaric given that Africans are one people who were only divided by colonial boundaries.

He said the attacks are a reflection of a lack of understanding of the shared history of tribal groups in the Sadc region.

Minister Moyo said this yesterday while addressing a group of South African journalists who had paid him a courtesy call in his offices a Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo.

The journalists are in Bulawayo on a cultural exchange with the Xhosa community in Mbembesi in Umguza District, Matabeleland North Province.

The event is being spearheaded by Umhlobo Wenene FM, a South African radio station that broadcasts exclusively in Xhosa.

The aim of the tour was to identify the roots of the Zimbabwean Xhosa community and share their experiences while broadcasting from Zimbabwe.

The team was led by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) African languages stations general manager Ms Sbongi Ngcobo. 

Minister Moyo commended the South African media for initiating a cultural exchange programme in Zimbabwe.

He said the South African visitors should appreciate the similarities between Zimbabweans and South Africans, and implored them to play a part in addressing the xenophobia which continues to rear its head in the neighbouring country.

A number of Zimbabweans have on many occasions been victims of the attacks. Last year, a Zimbabwean national, Elvis Nyathi was killed in South Africa during the attacks targeted at foreigners. 

“We are one people, and the Xhosa language is one of the 16 official languages spoken in the country. I’m happy because the SABC news crew is here, and you will spread the message to your South African audience that we are one people,” said Minister Moyo

“This  narrative that foreigners should go is barbaric as we are one. Xenophobic attacks are not necessary since they are targeted at our own brothers and sisters. We have Xhosa people and Zulus here who came from South Africa so we are one people.”

Minister Moyo said despite the colonial boundaries that separate Zimbabwe and South Africa, the two countries share a lot, including cultures and languages.

He commended the South African team for visiting the country and sharing their experiences, saying it will help bridge cultural gaps and unite Africans beyond borders.

Ms Ngcobo said the cultural exchange programme is part of South Africa’s celebration of Heritage Month every year in September.

“This year our marketing manager managed to identify that there are many Xhosa people beyond the borders of South Africa living here in Zimbabwe. So, we thought that it was important for us to come here  and understand how they arrived here, and try to understand the similarities of our cultures,” she said.

“We also want to learn about their traditions and customs so that we inform Xhosas back home that there are people that are part of us beyond the borders of South Africa.”

Ms Ngcobo said as SABC it is their duty to educate South Africans of the Xhosa people beyond South Africa. 

She said xenophobic attacks emanate from Africans who will be trying to divide fellow brothers and sisters based on their nationalities.

“The root cause of conflicts is when we focus on our differences. When I see you as someone who is different from me then I would want to pull back. So this campaign is to highlight similarities and those are the things that bring us together and unify us,” said Ms Ngcobo. 

“So finding that there is a Xhosa community in Zimbabwe should unify us as countries. So that is the essence of this campaign for us to educate everyone about the  similarities we have as Africans and try to unify us as a continent.” 

Ms Ngcobo said visiting Mbembesi was an eye-opener for her after discovering that Xhosas in Zimbabwe and South Africa share common cultural beliefs.

 “There is a lot we can learn from the Xhosa who are here in Mbembesi, the warmth was heartwarming, and the hospitality was amazing. We were welcomed by Chief Ndondo in Mbembesi and the people were very happy to see us,” she said.

“It really made us feel special, and we thought we were bringing our warmth, but we ended up finding a home in Zimbabwe. We know there are people who love and respect us and we would like to continue with our relations.”

Chief Ndondo said the Xhosa community in Mbembesi appreciated the visit as it served as a window of opportunities that could be tapped into.

As part of the promotion of local languages, the Government allocated a community radio licence to Mbembesi Development Trust which will run Ingqanga FM and broadcasting in Xhosa. 

“We really appreciated the visit, it made us feel important. We were able to share traditions and culture. It was a good event and the community wore Xhosa traditional regalia and they were very impressed,” he said.

“With the coming of our community radio station, we hope there will be cultural exchange programmes that will impact both communities.”–@nqotshili

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