Home » Arts & Culture » Mixed Fortunes for Carnival, Culture Week

Two major arts event are unfolding in the country this week. Taking place in the capital and surrounding areas is the Harare International Carnival while nationally provinces are celebrating Culture Week. The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, organisers of the carnival have taken aantage of various promoters that regularly organise events to forge synergies, in a bid to ensure most arts and entertainment events in Harare during the week have a “carnival tag”.

However, the move seems to have confused possible carnival attendees that might not see the difference of some of the events from the usual dancehall and sungura shows that take place in the capital weekly.

Only the Samba Night, Street Party and Miss Carnival pageant seem to be unique events of the carnival.

Although ZTA head of corporate affairs Sugar Chagonda recently said the move was meant to decentralise events and accommodate as many activities as possible during the carnival, some of the shows have been pathetic. On the other hand the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe that runs Culture Week is working through its provincial offices for the celebrations running across the country. The Culture Week has been celebrated for many years yet its appeal remains minimal.

For an event that has a grand launch rotating among provinces every year and national events during the annual week, a lot could have been achieved by now.

I have attended Culture Week national launches in Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central in the past but the events do not match the standards that should go with a programme that is meant to celebrate our culture.

Obviously, the issue of funding is an obstacle for NACZ to smoothly run the event as evidenced by the postponement of some this week’s events in Masvingo province to June.

The events, if they will take place, would run outside the week and it defeats the purpose of the programme.

It seems sponsors of arts events in the country are undervaluing the importance of our culture. The same organisations that bankroll events like the multi-cultural Harare International Festival of the Arts should be proud to support events that celebrate our culture.

It is disheartening to note that events meant to uphold our culture are postponed when shows that lampoon our history such as the controversial “Lovers in Time” play that was staged at HIFA get financial support.

It does not make sense when we promote products that destroy or distort our culture while overlooking what reflects our identity.

Our culture should come first. Maybe it depends on who funds what but I believe those operating in our land should respect who we are first before lining their priorities.

Delta Beverages lead by example through supporting the annual Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance festival that goes through provincial preliminaries before coming to Harare Gardens annually for national finals.

The festival upholds our culture.

Although the NACZ programme annually shows there would be many events for Culture Week, lack of resources have kept them low key affairs while the national launch leaves a lot to be desired.

Maybe the problem is that NACZ is failing to convincingly engage their potential sponsors to make a grand national Culture Week launch and run the provincial events in a spectacular way.

They council has been facing similar problems with the National Arts Merit Awards that have been failing to live to standards due to lack of sponsors.

But the same NACZ works successfully with Delta Beverages in running Chibuku Neshamwari Traditional Dance festival as well as Chibuku Road to Fame Festival and Jikinya Dance Festival.

I believe arts council head Elvas Mari and his team can do better through engaging various stakeholders and potential sponsors to make the Culture Week a notable event.

We have to celebrate our culture proudly and successfully. The coincidence of the Harare International Carnival and Culture Week should have been an opportunity for international visitors to have a feel of our culture through outstanding arts events.

Source : The Herald