This weekend I was reawakened to the reality that we are fast losing grips on our culture and in the words of IprayLife “Take away a man’s culture and you have taken away his identity.” When I sat there listening to the music, watching the art, and finally the play at IprayLife’s Dandaro 19” Edition this Sunday, I realised that there is little remaining of what we could proudly claim as Zimbabwean culture. Even more pain comes from the reality that what little we have left of that culture is fast becoming a derogatory phenomenon. It is hailed as outdated and backward and reflects failure to embrace change in a highly dynamic society. In Christian circles, culture is demonic!
There has always been this nagging question in my mind, “If our culture is as barbaric and Godless as it has been made out to be through modernization and colonialism – through Christianism- then who created the African man?” Was it not the same God of all mankind?
There are very few instances when I would acquiesce to the theory of evolution; technology and business. Religion and Culture are identities fast held together with timeless values they must never be tampered with. In my small sphere, culture is inseparable from religion so there simply can’t be one at the denigration of the other. IprayLife brought this out so beautifully when they held a cultural and creative conference at The Venue, in Avondale, last Saturday.
The conference was aimed at celebrating culture in its artistic and creative forms through dance, music, painting and theatre. It was rich with a myriad of creative expression and we watched enthralled as marvel after marvel was thrown in from the concoction of talent that graced the day. There was quite a huge turn-out and the crowd was superbly engaged.
There was much to take in through worship sessions by Kuda Mutsvene and Nyasha and South African songbird Nqo, to the mature rhythms of Vabati Vajehova and Mbira dzeNharira. There were also mixes of poetry and traditional dances expressed through variations of mbakumba, mazivisa and muchongoyo. The grand finale show would not have been as magical without the soulful rhythms from Dzivarasekwa Corps Salvation Army brass band. Each texture of their musical playing held volumes of art and soul.
IprayLife is a talent development concern that focuses on talent identification, grooming, celebration and development. Their core values are founded on the vison by founder Dylan Mafukidze, who envisions a world where Christianity begets creativity. If God introduced himself to us as the creator as “In the beginning God created,” Gen 1v1, then creation is at the core of the existence and presence of God. Being that we were created in the likeness of God, then creativity should be our identity. Throughout history, this our African culture that we now shun, has always been a celebratory cocktail of creativity from stone carvings, rock-painting, body art, dance, song, poetry. Why then do we believe those who tell us that there is no God in Africanism?
To renew and restore our Africanism and culturalism, Christianity must express the very essence of it’s God; a love and oneness that transcends identity so that humanity is a cocoon and bursting cloud of expressiveness through our very uniqueness. No one tribe, ethnic group or race is more superior and closer to God than the other and the God who made the one, is the very God who made the other. Why then should we shun the beauty and originality of cultural expression in its rawness?
This message by IprayLife was aptly delivered through Dandaro which historically referred to the circle of wonder that used to dominate our traditional communities. Within them, various talents were showcased and many young men and women found their destinies through them. It is time to resurrect that Dandaro, identify and develop cultural expression through talent, and together, celebrate the very being of God -CREATIVITY!