The Sunday Mail
“Fellow Zimbabweans, Covid-19 should not break our spirits and lead us to shun our culture. As we practice social distancing, let us not forget our values of Ubuntu/Unhu. Let us continue to co-exist and engage in respectful dialogue even on social media, where we spend most of our time as a result of the lockdown measures,” said Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry during her online address to launch the just-ended Culture Week.
The week-long event was this year held under unique circumstances.
Those who are used to gathering to celebrate the annual fête couldn’t do so due to the current lockdown. The world is still battling the coronavirus, which has upended the world as we know it. Culture Week is celebrated at national and provincial levels.
Different provinces take turns to host the national event.
Normally, Zimbabweans live for such occasions through lavishly showcasing their diverse cultures. Previously, these gatherings would often be punctuated by chiefs’ processions, traditional food and herbal exhibitions, dance, folk storytelling sessions, marches by artistes and cultural activists, fashion shows and poetry, among others.
But this year, the cultural festival went virtual, and this made it more participatory.
Minister Coventry said: “Culture Week this year provided an opportunity for wider participation of communities through online interaction and exchange of ideas on arts and culture, in addition to creating platforms for artists to interact and network.”
This year’s unique week-long celebrations included online conversations, visual exhibitions, traditional apparel exhibitions, dance performances and a music concert that was expected to be aired on national television last night.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe led an online discussion entitled “The impact of Covid-19 on traditional Zimbabwean cultural practices”.
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) also showcased an online visual exhibition called “Freedom through the eyes of General Tongo”.
Further, there were online conversations with various international organisations celebrating International Museums Day.
The Culture Week celebrations ran from May 18 to May 24 under the theme “Zimbabwe @ 40: Celebrating our Cultural Diversity and Heritage”.
The theme dovetails with celebrations marking the country’s 40th Independence anniversary.
“This year’s Culture Week is also significant for Zimbabwe, coming as it is when families are spending a lot of time together due to the national lockdown measures,” said Minister Coventry.
“This provides an opportunity for us as Zimbabweans to appreciate and enhance our own knowledge and understanding of our own culture and those of others around us.”
Culture Week is celebrated as part of the universal declaration on cultural diversity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), which declared May 21 as the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
In commemorating this day, countries are encouraged to celebrate the uniqueness of their diverse cultures.