Cultural centres vital in heritage preservation

Chikonzero Chazunguza

Chikonzero Chazunguza

The development of Cultural Centres and Villages is crucial to national identity and conscience as it serves as a neural fibre to the historical and social core of any particular nation. As such, on an ethnographic scale, the prevalence of such facilities would be far reaching in saving both immaterial and material heritage.

To get a grasp on the transfer of knowledge that takes place through the Centre or Village, the Gallery visited the Belvedere School and Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions.

“A Cultural village is important in the school environment because it shows the value of culture to our children. Most children after Independence have never been to the rural areas, so the culture centre is showing children how kumusha looks and feels” said Mrs Tondlana, the senior teacher and cultural preserver at Belvedere Primary School.

There are five essential elements that contribute to a system’s ability to become more culturally competent especially with cultural villages; the system should value diversity, have the capacity for cultural self–assessment, be conscious of the “dynamics” inherent when cultures interact, institutionalise cultural knowledge and develop adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of a cultures.

These culture centres are pivotal to the preservation of National Heritage, as such, they enrich lives through perpetuation of customs and traditions. Monuments speak voluminously on history and accompanying villages must be established and preserved and promoted for present and future cultural consumption.

“It is the role of us as teachers to tell our history in a different way, to explore the way our forefathers used to live through a model of a Shona Village. Our children now have a better understanding of the Shona Culture and the subject as well” she said. Upon this point, any lingual group must have such Model Villages that complement the read and written language studied in school in order to fortify the overall syntax of that particular ethnicity.

Cultural competence is the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes used in appropriate cultural settings to increase the quality of services; thereby producing better outcomes.

Citations of countries culture preserve our history and the figure can be there to provide reference for the future. Teaching Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage will reconnect Zimbabweans with their cultural heritage and bring back life to some of the traditions of our ancestors since the best hope of preservation of Zimbabwean Culture is in those who constitute the culture.

Belvedere Primary School is one of the schools with a cultural centre which is well structured and equipped with a real setup of a Shona Rural Village.

A similar project is taking place at Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions, in Chivero District. The proprietor of the Artists’ Community, Chikonzero Chazunguza, has commenced the construction of various forms of huts. The project seeks to erect huts from different countries on the continent, with the main objective of creating a Pan-African Cultural Village concentrated in one area.

At this juncture, Huts in the Southern African style have been completed, notably Southern and Northern Ndebele structures. The onset presents an ideal of preserving more than one culture and celebrating the vast mixture of customs that bedeck the continent. Chazunguza stated that the project is ongoing and would provide locals with and experience that equated to stepping out of the ordinary Zimbabwean setting without leaving the country. One aspect which may buffer the allure of Dzimbanhete’s project may perhaps be the inclusion of utensils and artefacts that complement the different huts, let alone, have the individuals with appropriate lilt to compliment the hut.

In the Gutu District of Masvingo is Gonawapotera Hills Cultural Heritage Village. “We identified a piece of land with the strong combination of being a Place of Interest and scenery” according to the Lead Facilitator of the Village, Tapiwa Chitsama. “We then got consent from the community, including Chiefs and Headmen. We want to protect the material heritage of the area such as the sacred sites and sepulchres as well as establish a community run profit generating engine, through the village itself.”

Gonawapotera is still in its infancy stage, however the facilitators have been certified with the Environmental Management Agency and several Cultural Bodies who have endorsed the project. “We will employ the local populace and not less than eighty jobs will be created for individuals in the community upon launching the project” Chitsama added. “We derived the name from a novel by Fr. Zvarevashe. Enshrined within the village’s core would be a Historical Centre to extend research on chieftaincy on the area, with a Chief’s court to provide the avid visitor with an insight on how customary rulings are conducted.” he said in conclusion.

In essence, culture is the cornerstone of every society as it defines people’s way of life by “Education in the arts” and “education through the arts”. Culture opens up access to a more widely defined cultural education and is an essential part of that knowledge transfer. In this sense, art and culture are indispensable elements of a comprehensive education, the objective of which is to achieve the maximum benefit for and best possible development of each individual and thus enable active participation in society as a constructive members of the community.

“Cognisant of the potential the creative and cultural industry plays in both the social development of children, the National Curriculum should enact legislation to provide an enabling environment for the growth of this sector,” added Tondlana. “The resultant effect should be the adoption of strategies, which will yield children’s appreciation, participation and consumption of our diverse arts and cultural products and activities.”

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