Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is spearheading the launch of the Zimbabwe Food and Cultural Festival, has encouraged the consumption of traditional food to unlock health benefits and contribute to the development of a healthy nation.
Addressing a multi-stakeholder meeting in Harare yesterday ahead of the launch, the First Lady also spelt out the need for women, as primary caregivers, to play a leading role in promoting traditional diets.
The multi-stakeholder meeting comprised members from the Ministries of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation; Health and Child Care; Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development; Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development and Primary and Secondary Education.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Art Gallery, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe, the academia and food industry were also represented at the high level.
The festival will be held in May this year during the culture week at a venue to be advised and traditional food, cultural dances and national dress were some of the important areas discussed during the multi-stakeholder meeting.
In her address, the First Lady said: “Taungana tese pano kuti titaure nyaya yechivanhu chekwedu.
“The idea that I have of a food and cultural festival is coming from a background of what I have experienced as I travel around the country with my various programmes under The Angel of Hope Foundation.
“You will agree with me that we have 16 official languages spoken across all the 10 provinces.
“These languages are associated with certain traditional food diets and cultural behaviour and practices which form part of Zimbabwean culture and diversity,” said the First Lady.
She said traditional cuisine, dances and languages are major factors that help promote sustainable tourism.
“Visitors who come to our country need to taste Zimbabwe in its wholesome (state) from skilled varieties, traditions, sounds and dances, languages arts and crafts so that when they return they would share the beauty and rich culture of diversity that we are proud of in Zimbabwe.
“We are gathered here today so that together we can share ideas and educate one another on our culture, food variety as well as our arts and crafts,” she said.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care representative Ms Lydia Muzangwa weighed in saying:
“From health perspectives, however, we are encouraging people to consume foods that are locally available to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Ms Coleta Mzulu from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation commended the First Lady for coming up with the initiative.
Representing the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Ms Loice Kadzunge made a presentation on the role of women in promoting traditional diets.
Zimbabwe Tourism Association representative Ms Tesa Chikaponya said: “Let us make it the biggest festival that will make the whole world come to Zimbabwe.
“We also have to look at the cultural dress and dances.”
Speaking on behalf of traditional leaders’ wives, Mrs Priscilla Charumbira — wife to the president of the Chiefs’ Council Chief Fortune Charumbira — thanked the First Lady for the initiative and pledged support.