When an economy catches a cold, it is usually other sectors that may not be considered that important that suffer more. Our society draws a lot for its balance from the political, economic and cultural spheres and there is a tendency to downplay the role some of these sectors play in our lives.
After a hard day’s work, many people retire to their homes and are either glued to their phones, computers or television sets, watching their favourite programmes. It has become so routine that it can be dismissed as not important yet what we consume are products of the cultural industry, which thrives where there is financial support and an appreciation of our heritage and the role it plays in our lives.
Bulawayo usually comes alive in this month, as the Spring arts festival, Intwasa Festival KoBulawayo is held with various artists showcasing their talent and meeting certain needs of our society that needs to be entertained as well as connected with their past and their future aspirations. It is quite worrying that festivals such as Intwasa struggle to get sponsorship at a time that the technological advancements around the globe are leaving us at the mercy of foreign content that at times is at variance with our cultural values.
We are aware that our economic conditions do not allow for huge capital outlays into non-core activities but with a better understanding of how the arts shape us as a people, we would see more corporates getting involved even in a small way and the numbers would ultimately add up to something substantial to sustain an industry and ensure that arts productions do not die.
It is a battle that we cannot afford to lose as globalisation has made neo-colonialism so real hence the call to those that can to re-awaken and ensure that our values are projected and protected from encroachment of strange practices that reach us through varying gadgets, largely because of the vacuum on account of the dearth of productions in the cultural industry. Our art should not die. Let us make our arts a priority, meaning that which we attend to first before considering any other. We are living in a generation that is rummaging through the history scrolls, piecing together our stories which had for long been told to us by others from their position of conquest. It is when we promote the arts and give a voice to our arts that we can start to revere our royalty, our heroes and see plays on their lives not as entertainment only but as a reconstruction of the story of our lives.
We hope policymakers are looking into such matters to ensure there are incentives for setting aside resources for the arts. In the long term, when we promote our values and guard them jealously we will save on our budgets as no doctrines steeped in individualism, itself foreign to us as we are a community in spirit, would spur the growth of strange practices contrary to our values and the law.