Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter
Acting Dean of African Diplomats and Algerian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Nacerdine Sai was yesterday mesmerised by the originality of Zimbabweans in displaying traditional cuisine, dances and artwork at the Food and Culture Festival which ends in Harare today.
The ambassador, who was the guest of honour at the official opening of the inaugural fête, the brainchild of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, pledged support for the event expected to be an annual fiesta.
The overwhelmingly subscribed event saw many luminaries, from the First Lady, ministers, diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe and traditional food enthusiasts, displaying their prowess in preparing traditional food.
Notable among non-local exhibitors were the Chinese, Algerians and Indonesians.
In his remarks, Ambassador Sai said: “When we talk about festivals, it is a kind of celebration and a celebration in diversity and morality. Indeed, the link and relationship between food and culture is very strong.
“Zimbabwe is rich with its variety of culture and different types of food and today we see people coming from different provinces sharing food from many parts of Zimbabwe: mutakura from Murehwa, madora from Mt Darwin, nhopi from Masvingo, sadza from Harare and many other dishes.
“I have been so pleased to attend this ceremony which is a good opportunity for us and my fellow colleagues from the diplomatic corps to discover the variety of foods and culture of Zimbabwe at the same place.
“Festivals unite people and with this festival, there is a message to be sent to the world telling them the readiness of Zimbabwe and the people of Zimbabwe to work with everybody in the world. They also develop tourism which is one of the most important levels of development in Africa, our motherland.
“Your Excellency, on behalf of the diplomatic community here, I would like to thank you for this initiative. Since Your Excellency, you are planning to have this celebration every year, I can promise you that we will be supporting your initiatives and we will be with you every year and for the next years.”
Algerian embassy officials showcased some of their traditional food that included a tasty dish called couscous.
For her part, among highlights, the First Lady had a hut equipped with all traditional utensils ranging from a winnowing basket, mortar and pestle, claypots, grinding stone and mats. Her baskets were laden with traditional foods and fruits.
She started by pounding maize and grinding mhunga on stone before preparing sadza in a shambakodzi (claypot) balanced on three stones on a fireplace.
Addressing the gathering while officially opening the festival, the First Lady said: “Ndine mufaro wakanyanya zvikuru nhasi apo takaunganira nyaya yetsika dzedu, magariro edu,zvekudya zvedu, mitauro yedu uye mitambo nenziyo zvekwedu savanhu vemuZimbabwe.
“Nyaya yehunhu hwedu inondikoshera zvikuru, zvinova zvakaramba zvichindibata kuti ndingaitewo sei kuti tibatsirane senyika kudzokera kuchivanhu chekwedu uye tidzidzise vechidiki kuti vagashire pamwe nekuyemura tsika dzedu.”
She said it was her wish that the event be held annually.
“It is for the first time that this festival has been held in Zimbabwe and I hope it is not going to be a one-day event and that is it. I urge the Zimbabwe Tourism Association which is under the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry to take this festival further. It should be a permanent feature on the national calendar of this country.
“Dai Mwari vachitigonesa ndinoshuwira kuti dai wava mutambo unoitika pagore rimwe nerimwe apo tinenge tichirangarira dunhu redu reAfrica takanangana netsika nemagariro edu emuZimbabwe.
“His Excellency, President Mnangagwa recently officially launched Culture Week meant to celebrate our culture. Saizvozvo isu nhasi muculture week imomo tichiti pamberi nekudya kwedu kwechivanhu , pamberi nenziyo nemitambo yedu yechivanhu, pamberi nekutaura mitauro yedu yakasiyana siyana mumatunhu atigere uye pamberi nekukoshesa uye kutsigira zviumbwa zvedu ,zvivezwa , zvirukwa zvinotaridza hunhu wedu sevanhu vatema vemuZimbabwe.”
Amai Mnangagwa thanked all stakeholders who made the day a success.
She then toured various stands were local exhibitors were showcasing their traditional foods, attires and crafts.
She was accompanied by Mrs Priscilla Charumbira – wife to the president of the Chiefs Council Chief Fortune Charumbira – and her daughters and daughters-in-law, who showed much interest in the cultural ways.
Ministers Monica Mutsvanga (Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services), Sithembiso Nyoni (Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development), Mary Mliswa-Chikoka (Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs) and Apolonia Munzverengi (Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs) added to the fun by conducting a traditional food cooking competition.
Minister Mutsvangwa prepared sadza rezviyo which she served with oxtail in dovi and tsunga while Minister Nyoni also cooked sadza rezviyo served with biltong in dovi and muboora.
Minister Mliswa served her sadza remugaiwa with madora in dovi and green vegetables while minister Munzverengi cooked sadza remhunga, derere and muboora une dovi.
They all walked away with certificates.
Various traditional dance groups as well as musicians like Baba Harare, Diana Samukange and Irene Mutangadura performed at the event.