‘No meaningful development without emphasis on culture’

THE Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of National Culture and Heritage says the country will not achieve meaningful development unless it puts culture at the centre of its economic agenda.

BY KHANYILE MLOTSHWA

Speaking at the launch of the Rural Creative Industry Baseline Survey Report by Amagugu Heritage Trust International (AHTI) at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo on Thursday, principal director in the ministry, Paul Damasane said rural authorities were in the process of creating a rural development strategy.

“United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon has said without understanding and appreciation of culture through the participation of the local people, our development will not work,” he said.

“The Chinese in their renaissance in the 1980s concentrated on the cultural aspects. Zimbabwe needs to link up culture with development.”

Damasane said rural local authorities would now be reviewed on their cultural relevance. “In the review of local authorities, one of the areas will now be are you culturally relevant in your community?” he said. “If you are not, then you may as well not exist.”

TNational Arts Council of Zimbabwe deputy director, Nicholas Moyo, said the government was committed to making the culture and creative sector a contributor to gross domestic product.

“Nollywood contributes to the fiscus of Nigeria in a big way,” he said. “Bollywood contributes to the fiscus of India in a big way. If we talk of Hollywood, most millionaires in the US come from Hollywood. The creative industry is the industry of the future.”

Moyo, however, said artistes and creative workers would need to work hard so that their sector contributes to the GDP in a big way.

“I would like to call for the professionalisation of the sector,” he said. “The sector, in its conduct, has also left a lot to be desired. At the moment, the government is creating an industry policy. I have been able to look through the draft, and there is no mention of the creative industry. We have engaged the Ministry of Industry and they have been excited and apologetic. There will be a workshop here and in Harare.”

The lead researcher and author of the report launched on Thursday, Charlton Tsodzo, said the most important observation was that creative industries provided a window for women in rural areas to be part of the mainstream economy.

“The creative industries are a viable tool for the socio-economic empowerment of women,” he said.

The report is available in its entirety in the AHTI website.Newsday

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