Acclaimed Zimbabwean poet and playwright, Stephen Chifunyise, has called upon Botswana media to take the lead in promoting the rich and diverse African arts and culture.
The renowned writer was addressing journalists at a workshop, which was geared to strengthen reporting and implementation of the 2003 Convention on the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).
The efforts are part of the UNESCO-funded project, titled Strengthening National Capacities for Implementation of the Convention, for the safeguarding of the ICH in four selected countries that are Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia.
“The media are not playing their role in promoting rich cultural heritage hence the need to show it to the world by highlighting its true and soft image,” said Chifunyise.
All over the world, the art and culture industry has fast grown to become the first or second in terms of employment and income generating.
“The media is a great instrument to change the world’s perception about Botswana and its people by promoting culture and arts of this culturally rich nation,” he said.
Chifunyise encouraged journalists to project the celebrities; what they are, what they are doing and where, in terms of art and culture, they are.
“As the media critique, the various art products we have help the public to choose what to and what not to consume,” he said.
Africans erroneously and inadvertently conceptualize culture as “drumming and dancing” and, therefore, fail to see any contribution culture makes or made to the struggle for socio-economic development of a country.
Chifunyise noted that culture, or “the way of life of a people, their ideas, acts, and artifacts”, is one of the main determinants of whether a society develops rapidly or slowly, hence the media should play a critical role in promoting it.
African culture since time immemorial is functionally linked to the popular media forms of radio, TV, and the press since they played a very significant role in their struggles against colonialism and exploitation.
He said Africans don’t realize how valuable their culture is, saying 70 percent of what a human being thinks emanates from culture.
“We have been trying to run away from their culture whilst the whole world is coming to Africa for that,” said Chifunyise. “What we have is so good, the indigenous knowledge, medicine, food.”
He hailed President Ian Khama’s cultural renaissance efforts through the major policies enacted.
“This is a major step towards cultural renaissance and other countries should follow suite,” said Chifunyise.
He urged artistes to embrace cultural renaissance as a way of fighting cultural imperialism.