FIRST-LADY Auxillia Mnangagwa says she hopes the inaugural Zimbabwe Food and Culture Festival scheduled for the 23rdto the 25th of May at the Harare Gardens will go a long way in helping the country embrace and celebrate its traditional ways of life.
Zimbabwe like any other African country has rich traditions and cultures which unfortunately have been ignored due to modernisation that has swept across the country.
However, addressing delegates at the official launch of the festival, the First Lady said she is hopeful that this festival which will see a variety of traditions and cultures being displayed will afford local people an opportunity to celebrate our authentic Zimbabwean traditional way of life.
“The festival will showcase various traditional foods, native languages, arts, crafts, music and musical instruments, fashion, fabric, furniture, traditional healing methods and medicines, cultural practices and social activities among others.
“I have travelled to so many countries and some nations have embraced their cultures and can be easily identified, during this festival I am hoping that many activities that we will be having will be our first step to recollecting our identity.
“I hope that through the festival both the young and old will be reconnected or introduced to a truly Zimbabwean way of life. In addition, the event will afford us an opportunity to embrace our cultural diversity, promote domestic tourism, promote cultural food consumption and healthy eating, promote social cohesion while bridging the cultural divide and more importantly preserve Zimbabwe’s cultural heritage.
“The festival will also compliment government’s efforts to enhance community engagement and increase community awareness on cultural issues,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief operations officer Givemore Chidzidzi applaud the launch of the festival adding that festivals promote tourism across the world.
“All the festivals that are hosted are meant to make people travel, people go to other places just for the sake of festivals, for example, I first went to Chimanimani because of the Chimanimani Festival many years ago, and so it’s a reason for people to visit.
“And globally governments have started to recognise the economic value of festivals and events and as a result national frameworks have been put in place to develop and nurture festivals and events.
“As demand increases, infrastructure development that comes with these festivals has gained the destinations solid standing in their ability to bid and host festivals and events,” he said.
Chidzidzi gave an example of Brazil where the Rio Carnival is a major economic activity which has seen the construction of several stadia (Samba Domes) and these same facilities are used for other income-generating activities outside the carnival days.
“Here back home we have the HIFA we all know the impact of HIFA,” he said “it has been the major attraction for visitors to Zimbabwe and I know a lot of travellers that have visited Zimbabwe only to participate and attend HIFA and so does the carnival in Victoria Falls that is held at the end of the year.
“The Zimbabwe Food and Culture Festival is poised to let Zimbabwe stand out as a competitive cultural destination one of the major reasons a tourist would like to visit Zimbabwe.
“According to UNESCO Cultural Tourism and Cultural Festival are among the top tourism pull factors in most destinations around the world,” he said.
The ZTA chief operations officer added that the festival will not only attract domestic and international visitors but will also instil cultural ethos which will aid tourism marketers to speak confidently on our cultural tourism packaging.
The Zimbabwe Food and Culture Festival is expected among other things to create direct and indirect employment, increased revenues for businesses Chidzidzi also took the opportunity to call on industry and commerce sector to support tourism as there are sure benefits for their business giving the example of the Harare International Carnival which generated about $23 million in 2017.