from ESTHER SHAVI in Kariba, Zimbabwe
KARIBA, (CAJ News) – THE failure by stakeholders to make the most of Kariba’s rich cultural heritage and propel the region to a leading global tourist destination is a typical case of sitting on talent.
This opportunity is squandered, heritage going to waste amid poor marketing of this town north of Zimbabwe, bordering Zambia.
The area comprises numerous chiefdoms, with the rich cultural heritage mostly around the Nyami Nyami district. The district has fascinating cultural sites.
There is the Mola chiefdom, which is known for its famous traditional dance called Muchongoyo. The chiefdom is reached through a scenic drive through national parks which teem with wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
Locals dressed in their colourful traditional attire provide a warm welcome.
Visitors experience the locals’ unique cultures through arts and dances accompanied by the mesmerising sound of the drums. Tourists also get an opportunity to taste traditional meals, which include the Zimbabwean staple sadza (cooked maize meal) and various meats.
The Nebiri chiefdom is famous for its pottery. To get there, visitors take a short drive through the Rift Valley-like terrain.
Visiting the chiefdom offers an opportunity to witness the art of pottery-making and engage with the local artists.
Visitors are taken through the art of clay harvesting and moulding. The products are sold all over the country.
The Negande chiefdom is accessible via some stunning, lush green forests.
This chiefdom is famous for the Masungulo traditional dance, which is performed during the initiation ceremony of adolescent boys.
Visitors can experience the cultural significance of this dance and what it means to the local people.
One would engage with the locals and learn about their daily activities such as fishing, hunting and farming.
Lastly is Msambakaruma chiefdom, which is known for its captivating traditional beliefs and practices.
This chiefdom is known to have a strong connection with the Zambezi River. Locals believe in the Nyami Nyami, the River God.
Tourists have an opportunity to learn about the myths and legends and how locals connect with their daily practices.
Cephas Shonhiwa, Kariba Tourism and Business Indaba co-ordinator, believes Zimbabwe is missing out on cashing in on culture, which is capable of greatly shoring up the country’s tourism sector.
“Our Tonga culture is very unique, but not enough has been said about it,” he said.
Batonga, a minority in this country, live mostly in northern Zimbabwe.
“We concentrate on marketing the obvious and leave out what has the potential to unlock our local tourism,” Shonhiwa said in an interview.
“Kariba is a tourist’s gem with rich cultural heritage. The district is blessed with unique cultures found in the four different chiefdoms. One should not miss out on this opportunity to explore Zimbabwe’s fascinating traditional cultures.”
Thus, there is more to Kariba than the world’s largest man-made lake.
In an interview with Kariba Today, Alois Chimbangu, the Information and Publicity Officer for Kariba Publicity Association, said Nyaminyami district and Kariba, also pointed out to the potentials presented by the rich heritage.
“Visitors can tour traditional villages and learn about the local culture, customs and way of life,” he said.
“This could include traditional dance performances, storytelling and craft demonstrations,” Chimbangu said.
Other sites worth visiting are Nyaminyami Shrine and Kariba Dam Wall.
The district hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year. This includes the Tonga Festival, which celebrates the local culture through music, dance and food.
There has been concern lately that inadequate publicity was stunting the potential of Kariba.
– CAJ News