BY ARTS REPORTER
AN earth road that begins at Sakuinje going to Chikore needs a lot of attention since it becomes slippery not more than 3km from Sakuinje the turn-off. We sojourn further until we reach Pfidza business centre where the shops seems to be making reasonable business.
From Pfidza, the road is full of people, especially those below 30 years. They are dressed to kill with more than 95 percent of them heading towards Bangira; about 10km away. Crowds soar as we pass Chikore Mission. At Bangira business centre, there is a lot of excitement and every careful driver has to reduce speed to avoid hitting pedestrians.
We finally reach our destination, Paiyapo Arts Development and Heritage Centre, the home of Ndau Festival of the Arts (NdaFA). The centre is about 45km from Chipinge town. The day is 23 September 2023 when the tenth edition of NdaFA takes place. The festival is running under the theme, “Ndau Culture: Enhancing The Conservation of The Environment and Natural Resources For Food Security.”
For first time visitors, they could wonder why a forest could be called a centre since there are no visible structures. But as they would walk further into the natural bushes, they would appreciate why structures are not visible from afar.
Ndau Festival of the Arts promotes climate justice and conservation of natural resources. That is why there is minimum forest clearance at Paiyapo Arts Development and Heritage Centre.
NdaFA has introduced a program named Green Charity where it donates trees to communities in Chipinge for afforestation.
We are now inside the forest where the main activity is to take place. The main arena is already packed. Several groups of traditional dancers are ready for action.
The founder and director Ndau Festival of the Arts, Mr Phillip Kusasa is in a sober state, giving attention to delegates as well as his board members who consult him.
To new comers, Mr Kusasa’s humbleness might make them not even identify him that he is the brains behind this cultural vision that makes people from all walks of life tour Bangira village, Chikore and Chipinge every third September of each year since 2013 to consume Ndau culture.
Group after group now showcases at the festival. These include schools such as Masvingo Primary, Gaza Government Primary, Nyaututu Primary, Muzite Primary, Mutendi High from Bikita, Mt Selinda High, Chibuwe High, Chinaa High and hosts Bangira Primary and Mafumhe Secondary.
Community dance groups give a taste of Ndau culture. These include Muzite Mutshongoyo, Holland Mutshongoyo, Sikhanda Mutshongoyo and Holland Mphongo.
Ndau singer, Bonnie T of the Ngotingo Clan mesmerises delegates with his rich Ndau wordsmith.
There is a women museum exhibition by fine artist, Edwin Hlatywayo. He paints pictures that are themed on the hardships that women face in African society. It is interesting to note that among the delegates are two women and a man from Germany who have toured Zimbabwe to consume the Ndau arts.
Also on exhibition is a poetry anthology named The Dark Moon and is themed on Tropical Cyclone Idai that hit Chimanimani and Chipinge districts in 2019. The book was written by Tendai Ngadziore, Ranganai Chikwara, Sifelani Tonje, Solomon Mwapingidza, Freedom Mutanda and Ndau Festival of the Arts director, Phillip Kusasa.
Mr Julious Piti, the director of Participatory Organic Research, Extension and Training (PORET) reveals why it is important to practise traditional agriculture and conservation during this era of Climate Cnange.
Ndau Festival is inspiring many young people to re-connect with their roots. NdaFA is growing from strength to strength each and every year it takes places.