MORE than 5 000 people on Saturday converged at Nemakonde High School in Chinhoyi for the official opening of this year's edition of Culture Week celebrations. Vice President Pelekezela Mphoko arrived at the event donned in a head and shoulder gear of animal skin on top of his immaculate suit and this was in true spirit of the cultural event.
The VP was flanked by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Andrew Langa, the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Mashonaland West Province Faber Chidarikire and National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Elvas Mari, among other dignitaries.
Prominent musician, Alick Macheso, who was the main act at the event, arrived later in the day after having kept people waiting soon after the main speeches of the day had been delivered and the VIPs had left.
Groups that included the ZRP youth music outfit kept the audience entertained before the sungura music supremo finally arrived after having spent the previous night performing in Ruwa.
As usual, "Baba Shero" did not disappoint as he put up a flawless act that whose only dent was experienced in his opening act when there was a power outage that lasted for about five minutes before a stand-by generator came to the rescue.
Stand-up comedian, Uncle Ritchie, was in his usual form and sent the crowd into stitches with his jokes that are underlined by his catchphrase, "Unobva washaya kuti zviri Kumbofamba sei?"
VP Mphoko commended the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe for organizing the event, saying culture played a critical role in unifying Zimbabweans.
He also noted how the Culture Week had become a permanent feature on the national calendar.
"It my first time to officiate at this event that has become a permanent feature on the Zimbabwean calendar," the VP said.
Minister Langa, who delivered his speech in Shona, said the Zimbabwean Government was fully behind cultural issues and also commended UNESCO for promoting the diverse cultures of the various countries around the globe.
"Culture is not only the dance and song we have. It is not only the artworks and material structures we have. It is more than that.
"Culture is the engine that drives us in the doing of business.
"There is no nation in the world that has developed and changed its economic growth without a developed cultural outlook.
"That is why in the review of our National Cultural Policy the emphasis is on growing the industrial and business impact that culture has on the people.
"The importance is on improving the people's livelihoods," he said.
Minister Langa echoed VP Mphoko's words when he said that culture promotes unity and social and political cohesion.
"The Culture Week commemorations provide an opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe to appreciate the diversity of the arts and cultures both locally and internationally. When one appreciates and understands another person's culture it builds confidence in the beauty and significance of our interaction.
"It further builds the unity and cohesion that every nation needs for the development of their economies, communities and the livelihoods of their people," he said.
National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director, Mari, urged Zimbabweans to uphold their culture.
"Culture is the way that you dress, walk, talk, eat and behave. Tradition, on the other hand, are those values and values that you look back at in order to shape your culture," Mari said.
Deputy director of the same organisation, Nicholas Moyo, said he was impressed by the turn-out, adding that this was clear testimony of how Zimbabweans valued and cherished their culture.
"The figures are impressive, and this alone shows how people love their culture," he said.
Prominent music promoters Josh Hozheri and Partson "Chipaz" Chimbodza, musician Edith Katiji, officials from the Zimbabwe National Traditional Dancers Association, among others, were also present.