The essence of culture and heritage: identity

“There is need to share with young citizens and educate them about heritage and culture as symbols of national identity and common wealth for all ethnic groups …”

by Tsungai Mhungu

People seem to forget who they are, the basis of their identity and where they come from. Change is bound to take place but continuity of culture is essential, it is heritage.

You will see that as a particular culture becomes unique, it becomes important and a marker of identity of that one group while other cultures are swept away by change owing to exchange of ideas and new preferences in terms of lifestyles in a global village.

However, no matter how prevalent change is, the word culture or heritage can never be swept away. What only lacks is the practical part, hence heritage awareness and education becomes critical

Promoting heritage awareness is equally important as safeguarding our identity. Raising Heritage and Cultural awareness has become vital especially in a fast globalizing world that we now live in and which threaten the survival of these two aspects of our social fabric as a country and as Africa as a whole.

We all know what it means when we talk about a global village, where some cultures are becoming less important and fading away as people are adopting foreign cultures and disregarding their heritage.

This could be because of uneven distribution of heritage awareness and other heritage programs across Zimbabwe owing to criteria, variability in resource availability and accessibility to different areas of the country.

This, however, is a challenge that can be curbed with dedicated effort and resources including professionally trained heritage personnel.

It is common and generally known and, may be, accepted that remote areas are less prioritized and far much disadvantaged in terms of accessibility of critical Heritage and cultural information.

It should be of concern that the urban counterparts of the remote areas have an upper hand than the later because of easy access to and availability of information, technology and heritage centers which allows them to learn more about heritage than their remote colleagues.

Usually culture and heritage are looked at from a touristic point of view (their value to outsiders) and not from conservative point of view where priority is given to posterity (so that future generations also enjoy the heritage) than their economic merits or striking a balance between the two.

This is a language only known to professionals but should be shared to all stakeholders of our cultures and heritage so that it becomes vivid to them the value of what we are trying to protect.

The provisions of the 1972 and 2003 UNESCO conventions are tools that need to be embraced and put into practice because of their recognition of the significance of heritage and the dangers that are posed by both natural and cultural events.

awhyf 2016.png
The Inaugural African World Heritage Youth Forum in Roben Island, Cape Town-2016 is an example of efforts to support the effective conservation and protection of natural and cultural heritage of outstanding universal value in Africa.

I understand that Zimbabwe is a member state of the UNESCO and ratified the conventions that seek to protect culture and heritage.

This therefore suggests that heritage awareness and education is remedial to our concerns as heritage professionals.

As a country we should also learn from activities like the Bosnian heritage awareness program with the Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders (CHWB) to show the importance of heritage for a better future.

Our concern as Heritage Professionals is further exacerbated by the recently introduced curriculum which includes Heritage studies.

With the same appreciation and respect for this initiative by the ministry of education to promote heritage and culture in Zimbabwean schools, especially faced with the fast globalizing world where heritage and cultural principles are fast being washed away and disappearing, there is, however, the need for the professionally trained heritage teachers to undertake this initiative.

The status quo in this field is inopportune taking into cognizance that heritage studies teaching stuff is borrowed from other disciplines such as History.

This under mines the very same goal that the ministry is trying to archive and also undermines heritage facts that are being compromised by the opinionated dissemination of data to students.

Our goal is to promote culture and heritage.

Culture and heritage are most important in defining a country’s identity.

It is therefore critical at this stage to engage professional heritage and cultural practitioners to equip teachers with authentic and professional information so that students are prepared not only to sit for culture and heritage studies exams with confidence but also to raise conscientiousness in students and youths in general towards culture and heritage.

There is need to share with young citizens and educate them about heritage and culture as symbols of national identity, common wealth for all ethnic groups and liberation heritage.

Such endorses national unity, Heritage laws of Zimbabwe, global laws and conventions as well as the national heritage and cultural custodian, the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) and other organizations that play pivotal roles in culture and Heritage.

The bottom line is that preserving our national heritage safe guards our identity as a country.

Featured Image: Amagugu International Heritage Centre.

 

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