The Nambya Culture Festival: Young People Saving Nambya from Exctinction

reprinted from YETT.

— Ingrained in every language is a set of cultural values that embodies the society within which the language is spoken. Language is the carrier of the cultural heritage of societies thus the death of a language constitutes the total destruction of norms, values, attributes and beliefs of a people.

Nambya Development Organization Trust (NDOT) with the support of YETT Youth Fund and financial assistance from Sida has seen it fit to help young people lead the process of preservation of some of the “indigenous languages and culture ” through a day long festival held recently in Jambezi in  Hwange district.

“The festivals helps young people to remember and appreciate who they are by having a full day of cultural activities starting with the cultural tools, and also having an opportunity to exhibit traditional foods that made part of the yesteryear diet”, said John Mzanwa, NDOT Coordinator.
This is the second year that the festival has been held following the inaugural event held in 2010 after the realization that the use of Nambya as a language was facing extinction resulting in the speakers of the language less appreciating their way of living.

“We did carry out a snap survey and found that 55% of the people were reluctant to speak or to be associated with the Nambyans even though they are Nambians so to get them out of the shell we needed to carry out this festival where they will showcase their lives from the home to all other tools which is the second and by looking at what we have had today, this one has had more impact as there was wider coverage as some came from as far as Victoria Falls , Hwange”, explained , Moven Musanhu , NDOT, Board chairperson.

However, there is hope for revival of the language following the recognition of Nambya as one of the official languages in Zimbabwe and to date some of the board members of NYDOT who are authors have been helpful in publishing the first set of  books which are used to teach the language in primary schools.

The event has gained much recognition as evidenced by the presence of stakeholders drawn from the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture, other local Non-Governmental Organizations as well as the Non-Constituency Senator and traditional leader, Chief Shana.

“We are glad of all the people who are making various efforts to promote the Nambyan language and we are constantly appealing to donors and others who can provide financial assistance towards publishing books and other educational materials in Nambya for the benefit of our younger generation”, says Chief Shana.

Meanwhile, organizations working with YETT under the Youth Fund also had an opportunity to be part of the festival through an exchange visit organized for them to learn, appreciate and network with other organizations for the benefit of their organizations.

“This is where the networking part comes in because from the interaction we have had we have seen that their main thrust is about preserving the Nambyan culture and some of us come from organization that encourage youth participation therefore we should come to Hwange and interact with the youths from Nambya so that we complement each other’s work”, said, Youth Forum Information Officer, Tawanda Mashava.
“The festival was community owned, they were participating and showcasing what they do, from the people who cooked for us and performed other duties voluntarily  and its something we are somehow failing in our organizations and I learnt a lot from you (NDOT)”, added Sithembile from YODAT.

However, some partners felt the need to keep track of the dynamism in culture for the benefit of future generations.

“One thing I have noticed is that we hardly document where we are coming from which shapes where we are going so as to shape the heritage of those that are growing up”, Tafadzwa Dzomba.

“When you talk about culture, there are some cultural practices that are harmful and others that are good that you would want to promote so when we talk about cultural preservation we should have clear demarcations on what we are keeping and dropping because as we are talking about HIV and AIDS and with or without the pandemic, there are some practices which remain harmful”, said YETT Director, Lucy Mazingi.