Kitchen: place of pride in rural areas

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HARARE (New Ziana) – THE kitchen occupies a special place and plays a critical role in Zimbabwe’s rural areas.
It is the site where all the culinary exploits are conjured up. It is also the site where many an evening, most of the fascinating folktales, handed down from one generation to the next, are recounted after families have had their evening repast.
It is also a place where visitors are, in the majority of the cases, first welcomed into, upon entering a rural homestead.
And because of that reason, many women in rural areas have gone out of their way to create impactful first impressions.
There are no competitions driving them – only the desire to exhibit one’s pride in one’s habitat. There are no group activities, as each individual works in their own spaces projecting outwardly, their sense of individuality, pride and cultural pride, each time and at every turn serving as an inspiration to others.
Some, as in the project championed and promoted by Amagugu International Heritage Centre in Matobo, showcase their skills in external mural decorations of their rural houses.
Amagugu International Heritage Centre was established by historian and cultural activist, Pathisa Nyathi, more than a decade ago in Matobo, Matabeleland South Province, and works to preserve and promote indigenous Zimbabwe cultural traditions and knowledge.
But in Muzarabani District of Mashonaland Central Province, individual mothers are taking turns to demonstrate their creative skills, by transforming their kitchens into places of marvel.
They have employed their imagination to create outstanding but fixed exhibitions. Being in one of these rondavels, is like being in a gallery space.
In 2015, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe mounted an exhibition honouring and celebrating the work of rural women in decorations to their kitchens.
Kumbirai Ndhlovu (nee Gasa) and her colleagues, Mary Mudare, Stancia Hwandingwa and Zorodzai Hwande are among some of the women from the Utete area of Muzarabani District, who have found a way of expressing themselves through their kitchen decorations.
“There are others, who are streets ahead of what we are doing,” says Ndhlovu somewhat apologetically. “But with each and every work, the desire is to excel. We keep perfecting our work.
“We consider it our responsibility to ensure our homes /kitchens are the envy of many, because the kitchen is the place of pride for every woman.”
Perhaps, among all the other measures being made to create more livable spaces in rural areas, creating homesteads that capture the everyday cultural experiences of Zimbabweans could be one of the ways of contributing to promoting cultural tourism.
The proximity of Muzarabani to Kanyemba in Mbire means the proposed massive tourism infrastructure underway on the border of Zimbabwe with Mozambique and Zambia, along the mighty Zambezi River, could see the women in Muzarabani contributing to promoting rural lifestyles that are culturally enriching.

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