Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Is it time for a cultural renaissance?

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Having spent much of my adult life thinking about my language and culture, I felt both comfort and dismay in reading Thembi Sachikonye’s article for Newsday Losing our way:

Sure, we need to ask ourselves whether there is anything wrong with being swallowed up in a cultural tidal wave, participating willingly in the elimination of difference and diversity, and taking up another people’s way of life, another people’s language, and another people’s values in the name of progress, education or sophistication. And I am hoping that when we have asked ourselves these questions we will end up with an answer we can all live with.

We cannot redeem our cultural failures without a concerted and consistent effort. We cannot right our wrongs without first acknowledging that there is a problem, and then working hard to fix it.

This translates to a daily consciousness of how we communicate and conduct ourselves around those we want to influence. It means carefully filtering the influences we subject our children to.

I think is time for a cultural renaissance. We must begin to have a different and more meaningful understanding of our culture and languages and with that a more concerted effort towards preserving these. We cannot continue to wax lyrical on the opportunities allowed by globalisation, the emergence of technologies and media that are more inclusive. Yet when faced with the challenge of putting these tools to utilitarian use, we balk.

As a people we cannot continue to brag about how educated we are, but when we truly examine where all that education is going, what good it does us as a nation, suddenly there is silence. Where is the wiki on Zimbabwean history language and culture written for and by Zimbabweans themselves? Why aren’t more Shona and Ndebele books available in audio and as mp3 downloads? I want to read more histories by and about Zimbabweans that are without a political agenda, and watch well-written films that are entirely in vernacular and subtitled in English. We as Zimbabweans have to prioritise our cultures and languages. We cannot afford to wait for someone to create a grant that will specifically allow us to do so.

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