By Vusumuzi Mkhwananzi
Plumtree-One of the first women to take up Chieftainship in independent Zimbabwe, Chief Sinqobile Mabhena of UMzingwane has challenged government to invest in cultural heritage to preserve traditional and cultural values to curb the high rate of moral decadency prevailing in the country.
Chief Mabhena was installed amid controversy in 1996 aged 23, with some conservative traditional leaders saying the Ndebele culture strictly forbid women from presiding over men, her installation broke new ground and also changed the succession system as his late father did not have sons to take over the throne.
Speaking to hundreds of people at Madabe Cultural Centre in Plumtree on Friday at the provincial launch of Culture Week, Chief Mabhena said ancestors must be turning in their graves because of the immorality that’s prevailing in the country.
“Imagine what our forefathers would say about the high rate of murder, rape and theft cases if they were to wake up from their graves today. We should preserve our culture because it defines who we are-development does not mean we should throw away our cultural values,” said Chief Mabhena, a former teacher.
“I therefore urge government to support all efforts to preserve our culture through the relevant ministry by availing funds and vehicles for use in preserving our cultural and traditional values.”
Chief Mabhena commended the government for valuing all languages in the new constitution saying language is key in preserving culture.
“The introduction of languages such as Sotho, Venda and Kalanga in the curriculum is highly commendable.”
Matabeleland South provincial arts manager Nokuthula Moyo said Culture week involves the sharing, performance and display of Zimbabwe’s diverse culture.
78-year old Gogo Tjedza Nkomo who was part of the crowd said she was thrilled with performances that reminded her of years gone by.
“It reminds me of the days when l was a young girl, we would dance at home after supper and during gatherings. It’s a good thing that these children are being taught to preserve their culture at school,” she said.
“This year’s theme Celebrating Arts and Cultural Entrepreneurship is a call for Zimbabweans in general and artists in particular to regard the culture sector as having immense potential to contribute to livelihoods and the national income,” said Moyo.
The event was graced by a number of Chiefs who included Chief Wasi of Mangwe district and Chairman of the Chief’s provincial Council Vezi Maduna of Insiza and was marked by poetry and dance with renowned poet Lerato “Qindi” Ndlovu wooing the crowd.