'54 African villages on one place'

HARARE - In one of its kind in Africa, Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions Trust has been working towards the establishment of an All Afrika Village; a thematic park, with village structures that are representative of all the African nations’ significant architectural styles.

Having 54 African villages in one place will mean that, this village will be the one and only such feature in the whole world and that alone will make it a major world attraction.

These villages are intended to cater for material culture and artistic displays, cultural interactions and heritage discourse.

Already Dzimbanhete Arts and Culture Interactions has sampled the idea of this village, establishing, the South African which consists of the Zulu, Xhosa and Ndebele huts.

Then the Zimbabwean contingent which consists of the Tonga, Zimbabwe-Ndebele and Karanga huts.

The trust’s executive and creative designer Chiko Chikozero said: “Due to lack of adequate space at this current venue we have moved on to secure a bigger space which will enable more space for each village.

“At this new venue, we have drilled a borehole are currently working on the water network. We are also pegging out locations for each country/village and in due course, will be establishing power supply and fixing the roads.

“This new village is just 25km from Harare and 3km from the Harare-Bulawayo highway, located within five massive granite hills which gives it a very favourable cultural environment.”

Chikozero said they believe All Afrika Village will be a powerful business model and a springboard for many other business possibilities, particularly in the recreation, tourism, heritage and cultural industries among others.

“This village will be characterised by 54 villages, layed out on a 12-hectare piece of land. Each village, with an average of two or three structures will be on a 2 000 square metres area.

“The layout of the whole project will have it such that the village of each country will be located on approximately the exact spot as it is on the map of the continent. Each village will further be adorned with its material culture.

“Well-lit pathways connecting each village will allow easy access from one end of the continent to another. Three amphitheatres, restaurants and gift shops will also complement this village,” said Chikonzero who is also an accomplished painter.

The dreadlocked painter said there is need for African traditional cultures to have a platform where they are made accessible collectively, celebrated, discussed and documented, with a view to encourage discourse and exchanges that will in-turn build bridges for unity, tolerance and appreciation.

“The very inception of this project is indeed a celebration of African architecture as the home for indigenous cultures and knowledge systems, a subject that is becoming more and more attractive the world over.

“Tourism has since become more culture based than safari and the idea of creating a one-stop-centre with all the various cultures cannot be over emphasised more so as a recreational, scholarly tourist attraction,” said Chikonzero.

He added that the objectives of All Afrika Village is to establish a one-stop All Afrika Indigenous Village, create a culture-based business model, encourage inter-cultural interactions and appreciation among Africans.

“We want to increase discourse and appreciation of African cultural values and knowledge systems including tangible and intangible heritage. There is need to showcase African indigenous culture in its highest and widest conception, hence the promotion of African cultural industries.

“The All Afrika Village will create a culturally unique destination for culture-based tourism, generate employment and reduce poverty. And yes, create a culture centre accessible to African embassies based in Zimbabwe.”

Chikonzero said at any given time, each village would be occupied by invited guests from the respective country, staying there for a substantial number of days while sharing their ways, showcasing their food, attire, crafts, stories and all that matters to them as a people.

“A festival of culture will be organised bi-annually, (Festival of Afrikan Cultures) whereby countries would be invited to showcase their material culture and where possible bring in an authority on their culture and a group that will act out their village life.

“Embassies will be invited to hold their national days at their respective villages and Africa Day (May 25), Day of the African Child (June 16), Culture Week (March) and many other African special days will have programmes run at the village.

“Restaurants serving foods from various countries will constantly have access to showcase their art of cooking, through indigenous food fairs.

“Cultural camps for visitors will be designed and held at respective villages while cultural information will be documented and collected during all activities,” said Chikonzero.

The creative artist believes tourism remains one of Africa’s major industries, yet as the world has been moving more and more towards culture- based tourism, very few ideas on tourism have gone on to revolutionise the presentation of culture in Africa such as this project.

“This All Afrika Village will attract many cultural endeavors such as the film and broadcasting industries, theatre arts, musical performances, scholarly research fellows and it will also be a major tourist attraction for both domestic and international tourism all seasons. Indeed, countless are the business opportunities which will emerge from this entity.”

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