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Nhimbe Trust Launches Inter-Cultural Dialogue Forums in Harare

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Nhimbe Trust, in partnership with Savanna Trust, and with the support of Culture at Work Africa and the European Union, launched the first series of ten intercultural dialogue platforms that are targeted at arts, media and culture practitioners based in Bulawayo and Harare.

The purpose of the forums is to map collective and collaborative effort that can be channelled towards addressing ethnic polarity. Participants at the forum reflected on how their respective media and creative spaces can contribute to ongoing national efforts of facilitating truth telling, truth seeking, and national healing.

Arts, culture and media practitioners, as transmitters of messages about what identity means within the context of Zimbabwe, recognised that they have a role to play in creating safe and inclusive spaces where individuals, as entities of communities, can engage beyond historical ethnic divides and relational experiences that have shaped their cultural biases and stereotypes about certain ethnic identities.

Forum participants further highlighted that their individual ethnic identities and linguistic capacities have been a major determinant of how they access platforms that are associated with certain languages and certain ethnic stereotypes. This is against a backdrop where ‘ethnic ownership’ of some historical facts, national icons, and cultural spaces has only granted validation to works created by people who belong to a ‘specific ethnic group.’

Speaking on the sidelines of the forums, Peter Churu, an arts and culture practitioner based in Harare, expressed that “having an intercultural dialogue after 39 years of independence is a sign that we have not progressed as a nation. We needed such a conversation so that we can move forward as a country.”
The next series of intercultural dialogues will be hosted in Bulawayo during the course of May.

Relinking Communities Through Culture Project Context

The project aims to build networks and enhance trust, tolerance, and empathy, at a community level and in the spirit of creating linkages, between the two major ethnic groups of Zimbabwe, through the provision of 17 cultural interventions providing inclusive spaces for sharing and listening, meaningful conversations around ethnic identity and cultural collaborations.

The project responds to concerns that the prevalent and long-standing acrimony between the two major ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele (based around Harare and Bulawayo respectively), imbues suspicion and intolerance, erodes social cohesion an dilute the Zimbabwean national identity, by enhancing participatory dialogue and interaction between young cultural and media practitioners from each ethnic group, raising awareness, generating debate, and fostering understanding, empathy and social cohesion.

For more information on the project please contact cawa@nhimbe.org