Tendai Mbirimi Lifestyle Writer
Being proud of your own culture and lifestyle in a foreign land and subsequently tantalising other fellows around you to want to know more about where you come from qualifies one as a true ambassador. True ambassadors never lose their sense of self no matter how attractive other cultures may be. Instead, they remain true to themselves and as a result make those around them wish to know more about where they come from.
One such ambassador is Martha Musonza Holman, a Domboshava-born and bred dreadlocked Zimbabwean woman who has seamlessly fitted into life on another continent while remaining the same Shona woman she was born. Many tales of African women hinge on poverty and suffering at the hands of a patriarchal and chauvinist society. But for Martha Musonza, the story is different.
Martha grew up with a strong sense of her own uniqueness and value. She has managed to strike that delicate balance which allows one to take pride in who they are without descending to arrogance and disrespect for those who are different.
Thus she can enjoy her life in Wales where she is married to David Holman, a Welsh national.
In a world where cosmetology is regarded as the cornerstone of women’s beauty, Martha has remained as natural as she can. With her dreadlocks nicely buttressed at the back, but allowing the horde to dangle tightly, the vivacious woman has a charismatic personality accompanied by devotion and sense of achievement.
By being resolute, Mrs Holman has made admirers for herself in Wales and subsequently founded an organisation called Love Zimbabwe, which is now facilitating for Welsh people to come and tour Zimbabwe.
We caught up with Mrs Musonza in Chivero National Park, a natural flora and fauna sanctuary managed by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, with her entourage comprising of Welsh Nationals and local cultural die-hards on an academic and cultural exchange excursion.
While Zimbabwe boasts both natural and man-made attractions that draws all and sundry to come and enjoy the beauty and hospitality the country is made of, ecological tourism has not been talked of
Mrs Holman started organising tour trips to Zimbabwe as far back as 2001, but officially registered Love for Zimbabwe organisation in 2010.
The year 2015 saw her organising an academic cultural exchange programmes in partnership with the University of Wales which saw the first batch of students studying anthropology at Wales University arriving in the country beginning of January.
The tour saw the students visiting Chinamhora community centre in Domboshava, Domboshava rock art, Chinhoyi Caves and Chivero National Park among other areas of interest.
In Domboshava, art of the excursion involved carrying out village domestic chores for a normal rural lifestyle such as fetching firewood and water, as well as cooking using the traditional fire setup.
Where sleeping on the floor in a round hut can be demeaning to the lost folk of this generation, it was an exciting lifetime experience for the students.
“This has been a lifetime experience. It has greatly benefited us in our studies particularly in area of cultural variation,” said Oliver Parker a second year student at Wales University.
Though this was his first visit to Zimbabwe, Oliver indicated that what he saw and experienced was far beyond his imagination and as a result he will make use of the connections he made to plan for another visit as a well as recommend others to come.
“I didn’t know much about Zimbabwe but will definitely make use of the connections I have made and pay another visit, Zimbabwe has a unique but exciting lifestyle” he noted.
Mrs Musonza Holman relocated to Wales following his Marriage to David Holman. They started charity programs in 2007 which saw them establishing the African Green Village, a community centre in Chinamhora Domboshava in 2009.
The idea of coming up with cultural exchange programs for students saw them approaching the Wales University and together they hammered out an arrangement to bring two groups of students each year. The second group for 2016 is scheduled to arrive in August.
“The idea is of bringing as many as possible students are for them to experience the vibrancy of Zimbabwean culture. If everything goes according to plan, we also intend to organise trips for Zimbabwean students to visit Wales so as for them to also experience that’s country’s way of Life,” said Mrs Holman.
Mr Holman concurred with Martha and added that this initiative also aims at downplaying issues to do with stereotyping on both sides.
He said that local support for the foundation’s vision has been great. “We want to thank the government of Zimbabwe and all the stakeholders notably among them, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Mrs Florence Nhekairo,” he said.