Unity in diversity: Locals gear up for National Culture Month Scenes from the Culture Week launch held under Chief Matibe in Beitbridge West

Blessing Karubwa, [email protected]

Preparations for the Culture Month commemorations are well underway, with a series of provincial events paving the way for the main celebration scheduled to occur at Chisumbanje’s Marega Primary School in Chipinge, Manicaland province on May 31.

Marking the beginning of the 2024 commemorations, the Ministry of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture has announced that they will be held under the theme; “Our Culture, Building Zimbabwe Brick by Brick”.

“This is in line with Vision 2030 and it is a commitment by the Creative and Culture Industries sector of Zimbabwe in the implementation and realisation of the National Development Strategy I objectives,” the ministry said in a statement.

They emphasised that the celebrations will be conducted both physically and virtually.

“The digital flow of the Cultural and Creative services sector is fast embracing new technology and AI in the ever-present digital environment. This year, our National Culture Month commemorations Chronicle Zimbabwe’s success stories in cultural renaissance, national development and the impact of the arts and culture on economic development, the fight against drug and substance abuse, including other societal ills.

“As a Ministry, we are geared to up-scale Zimbabwe’s role in fulfilling regional and international protocols and conventions that enhance the growth of the creative and cultural industries.”

This week, there will be a focus on promoting the national dress and African attire. People have been encouraged to dress exclusively in any of the National Fabric colours on Saturday and Sunday.

Next week is dedicated to celebrating African languages and creative expressions.

“The week celebrates community engagement in discussions on cultural heritage, Ubuntu, attire and grooming, substance abuse and broader societal ethics through themed discussions and presentations aired on community radio stations, national radio and television broadcasts, all conducted in indigenous languages.”

On the last week of the month, there will be community cultural dialogues that will engage both in-school and out-of-school youth, alongside elderly men and women, traditional leaders, and religious figures in Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba Cultural discussions.

While this unfolds, different provinces will be hosting a myriad of activities throughout the month.

The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) is set to host the provincial Culture Day launch for Matabeleland South at the Matobo Cultural Centre, in Maphisa, on the 31st of this month. The gathering, which typically draws over 6 000 people aims to rejuvenate Ndebele culture by providing all Ndebele clan groups with an opportunity to exhibit, learn about and embrace their traditions.

Percy Vela, the NACZ Matabeleland South provincial arts manager said preparations for the event are well underway. He said the guest of honour will be the Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu.

“Preparations are in full swing. The day will feature a variety of activities including exhibitions of cultural foods, artefacts and traditional dances such as isitshikitsha, ingquzu and amabhiza. Cultural practices like ukulaya abantwana, especially focusing on the girl child, will be demonstrated by elderly women and traditional games like igwini will be showcased.

“A diverse array of traditional foods will be served and poets like Lerato Nqindi Ndlovu will lead the reception of the artists. Several chiefs, government officials and schoolchildren from across the province are also expected to attend.”

Vela, emphasised the importance of traditional attire, stating that everyone is expected to dress accordingly for the occasion. Chief Fuyane is spearheading the event, underlining the crucial role of chiefs as guardians of culture, with NACZ handling co-ordination.

In a separate interview, Chief Fuyane expressed his enthusiasm for the event, emphasising its significance in preserving cultural heritage and fostering unity among Ndebele clans. He highlighted the diversity within the Ndebele community, showcasing and clarifying differences among various clans.

“We’ll be delving into our history, rediscovering our identity, and exploring the customs of our ancestors,” Chief Fuyane remarked.

“This project aims to demonstrate the importance of unity among all clans and to dispel any misconceptions. The term ‘Ndebele’ encompasses several tribe groupings, such as amaKalanga and amaNguni and we will showcase the distinctions between them through a range of events.”

Patricia Tshabalala, the matron of the Bulawayo-based Amatshitshi, confirmed her group’s attendance at the event.

“Fifty virgin girls will be attending the event and I will accompany them. We are already making preparations,” she happily stated.

The launch for Bulawayo province is scheduled for next week at a venue yet to be disclosed. Masvingo’s launch will take place at Masvingo Teachers’ College on May 31, while Midlands will host its event on May 24 at Chief Ngungubane’s homestead.—@TeamKarubwa

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