The creative sector in Zimbabwe is seeking a voice in national dialogue by harnessing the opportunities offered by social media’s innovative technologies to create novel discourse that can contribute to the country’s development. Culture Fund Trust of Zimbabwe and partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) plan to bring together a variety of Zimbabweans in their diversity to suggest how best dialogue can preempt and prevent conflict and paint a narrative that gives the nation future prosperity. “In Zimbabwe we have tended to be narrow minded in assuming that politicians are the only ones who can determine our future. That is a very narrow and misguided view because politicians are not necessarily the most creative people.

We need politicians to be assisted by other people who often have the sharpness of mind and freshness to bring innovation even in political processes,” says Culture Fund Trust executive director Farai Mpfunya. Culture Fund Trust and its partners will facilitate the creation of a Twitter account where people can contribute new innovative ideas and their own perceptions about what the country should be in future. The contributions will be pooled under the banner ‘My Zimbabwe Stories’. Mpfunya believes that if people live in the same geographical space and share the same history, pain and experiences they are going to end up with certain things that are similar among them but those similar things have to be pieced together to become a national developmental trajectory for the country to follow. “We are aware that there is diversity and we want to be different and respect difference but we also want to acknowledge that difference itself needs to convert at some point to constructively allow us as a nation to propel us into the future.

Every Zimbabwean contributing to what the country should be can construct one common vision for the future.” Perhaps the initiative by the Culture Fund Trust and the UNDP has been long overdue because the arts are the living personification of the culture of the people. As Mpfunya observes if you exclude in national dialogue the people who are working in the sphere of culture you may not necessarily find national developmental processes that are influenced by the people who live the culture. “Traditionally the area of creativity that encompasses the creative sector and the arts and culture sector has often not been given the space to suggest how people can talk to one another yet a lot of the communication is embedding in itself things that are of a cultural nature such as the language that we chose to talk to one another, the environment that we talk to one another, the tone of how we talk to one another and the energy that we choose to embed.”

The dialogue initiative is in its own an opportunity to create a model that can be used in different spheres like business, politics and the Non Government Organisations to encourage Zimbabweans to try and engage developmental issues in a new, interesting and unusual manner. In the last 10 years Zimbabweans have talked to one another in an unproductive way, notes Mpfunya. “Even though we have had external factors affecting our country we ourselves have not found the right kind of energy and mechanisms to bring out the necessary ingredients to come up with solutions to our problems that can generate prosperity. What we have ended up with is poverty and poverty is a negation of positive energy. What we need to do is to pick out things that can potentially bring positive energy that is needed to be translated into national development processes.” Development in itself is not a new phenomenon.

The UNDP as part of the United Nations body to which Zimbabwe belongs has been striving to make humanity live better and that defines development. What Culture Fund Trust and its partners are only doing is to find new ways and new models of enhancing what others have started. “We are not reinventing the wheel. We are using technology specifically aware that at the end of the day what we are looking at is human development and human prosperity. In Zimbabwe we are aware of the recent history that we have not been talking to one another constructively.’’ Recently Culture Fund Trust and other stakeholders met at a project titled the Great Zimbabwe Scenario that brought people from all sectors of society to see how they could project how Zimbabwe would look like in 10 years. “Why do we need to do that? We decided as Zimbabweans we may want to see what we may become in future in 10 years in order to decide how we talk to one another today. We were looking at what happens before you get into a sophisticated early warning system for conflict.

When you want to get to that level before you get sophisticated technology that is available you may want to think of how you can constructively encourage people in your own country to communicate. And when you want to see how you can do that you therefore want to say, if it is about people and if you are in development, how can we bring in creativity in the way that we have dialogued or communicated with one another. So we are very interested in how other mechanism outside technology can be used as gate keepers or custodians or as a vehicle that just becomes a watchdog to how things that transform our society are being crafted and implemented and how society takes them up.”

Shepherd Mutamba. The writer is a journalist based in Harare specializing in arts and culture news.

Story originally carried on Zimbo Jam

The Culture Fund envisions a thriving Zimbabwe that is confident in its innovation and creativity that is nurtured through a culture of open dialogue and creation of knowledge accessible to all its citizens. The Culture Fund plays a leading role in gearing the country towards becoming a creative society benefiting from a creative economy. It supports the cultural sphere through results-based programming.


  1. diamondhead says:

    This is interesting. Looking forward to it. How do I get involved?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s