San people to hold maiden cultural festival

BULAWAYO - The San people, who are resident in Matabeleland North Province, will hold a maiden two-day cultural festival on October 16 and 17 in a bid to safeguard their cultural heritage.

Dubbed Ibhoro Bush Cultural Festival, the event will take place at Garia, about 60 kilometres north of Tsholotsho, under the theme: My Culture, My Heritage, My Pride.

Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust director Davy Ndlovu, one of the organisers of the forthcoming event, confirmed the festival adding that it has already been registered with the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.

“The Tjwoa culture is under threat due to contact with the Ndebele and Kalanga people. In 1928 following the establishment of the Wankie Game Reserve, now Hwange National Park, local Tjwoa communities were displaced and pushed to the periphery of the forests where their survival practices of hunting and gathering were not as lucrative.

“For the better part of the last century many Ndebele and Kalanga speakers have encroached into the San territory and created a language contact situation that has had far-reaching consequences for the Tjwoa speakers,” he said.

Ndlovu said the forthcoming festival was part of efforts meant to facilitate the restoration and growth of the Tjwao language and San cultural heritage through conducting ibhoro bush camps for San people to interact closely and learn from their elders the various aspects of San language and culture.

He added that they would document the Tjwao language in addition to setting up of a San Council that will be tasked with looking after the interests of Tjwoa communities.

“We are going to see an introduction of lecture series on San history a week before the festival. There will also be a cultural road show from Bulawayo to Tsholotsho that will comprise a procession of culturally-decorated cars and traditionally-dressed San models who will be holding banners with promotional messages,” he said.

Organisers have lined up several activities that will take place during the festival that include early morning bush excursions, trails, setting of traps, food gathering, storytelling and visiting of sacred sites.

According to Ndlovu, several cultural groups from Harare, Chiredzi, Bulawayo and other towns have been invited as part of showcasing diverse cultural aspects.

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