. . . continued from last week
LEARNING different customs of a people is also part of cultural tourism. The Tonga have a very rich history. Many live by the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia whilst a number live in the Binga area. It is the Tonga that prayed to Nyaminyami, the river god.
Understanding why people do certain things is not the same as believing in what people are doing. This is one major lesson we all need to learn if we are to embrace cultural differences and preserve them for future generations. There is no harm in broadening your knowledge on peoples’ ways and practices.
As I said last week, the world is dynamic as well as culture. The Ndebele have got to be the most creative of all the Zimbabwean people. They are very colourful in their art and craft, from their bead work to the deco on their houses.
Even song and traditional dance never disappoints. Zimbabwe has so much rich heritage and culture. This must be preserved, preservation comes with practice and with understanding.
As we go forth into the new normal, it is important that we go knowing who we are as a people. After all, who knows what new cultures will be birthed with the new normal. Our culture form our identities, which form pride, which will become a strong attraction to others. However, you cannot be proud of who you are when you do not know who you are.
O phela hantle? (Sotho)
I have heard people complain about Zimbabwe not having a national dress. True as this may be, this is not the only thing that makes up your culture nor identity. There is, in fact, so much more rich culture and some sadly is not known by all and a lot is undocumented. I believe if sustainable tourism of any sort is to be established, there needs to be a firm foundation of who we are as Zimbabwean people.
Let’s not compare ourselves to others and talk about what we don’t have. Let’s hold on to what we do have. For example, our totems. I have seen people show off their totems with such pride. The Mhofu, Shumba, Moyo, Ndlovhu, Beta, Soko, Dziva, to name just a few.
Totems were used to identify tribes. They were associated with animals, body parts and nature and this was a way of conserving and preserving the peoples’ surroundings. It was also a way to prevent incestuous relations within the clan.
Le tsogile jang? (Tswana)
Looking at the structure and design of Great Zimbabwe, the soapstone Zimbabwe birds, the iron works and bead work – that is art in itself. All of these were from as early as 10AD with the claypots from our different forms of pottery, our music, jewellery, poetry song and dance, wood carvings stone sculptors, tie and dyes and batik fabric.
Our rock paintings formed our way of story-telling. These are all forms of art and culture expressed differently but owned by us, the Zimbabwean people. Making up who we are. Let us embrace them and show them off proudly to anybody and everybody. Google doodle did a phenomenal job in showcasing the mbira. It’s time that we showcase our own and embrace our own.
Umuntu, ngubuntu ngabantu. In the literal sense, this refers to how you relate to other people, people will always judge your character by the way you treat other people. This saying also applies here as we draw out an identity that we can be proud of.
More importantly, let us learn to embrace each other, to understand each other’s differences, to love and nurture those differences so that even if our true identities get lost along the way, the brotherhood we would have formed can be known as our culture. Zimbabweans are already known as a friendly, peaceful people. This is who we are.
How are you? (English)
I am Zimbabwean. I am proud of my culture, my identity, my background and my roots. I know how to get on my knees and greet and I know how to ululate when I celebrate. I know how to sing when I mourn and dance when I rejoice. I don’t need to do some of my cultural duties daily to know who I am. I do need to know them so I understand why I am, as a family, as a tribe, and as a nation.
The people are the most important aspect of Zimbabwe. So as we travel from border to border, exploring our country, we must remember the people in the local communities we visit. Go and visit them, find out more about the way they live and find out more about their culture.
Don’t always look for the modern hotels, look for a cultural village or centre and get to know more about your people. After all, the people are one of Zimbabwe’s treasures.
Mazwi Shamu is a teacher and travel and tourism consultant and blogger. She can be reached on 0712893354 or [email protected]