UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) defines cultural industry (also known as the creative industry) as one that “combines the creation, production, and distribution of goods and services that are cultural in nature and usually protected by intellectual property rights (copyright).”
According to UNESCO, the mainstream categories of the cultural industry are: music, film, television, radio and publishing. Other categories may include: visual arts, performing arts, crafts, design, architecture and cultural tourism.
The basic aim of the cultural industry is employment creation and economical returns. If culture has economic returns, how can we develop a viable cultural industry?
Firstly, we cannot talk of a cultural industry without considering the country’s ability to support the arts and culture’s contribution to sustainable development. In the preceding article, we discussed how the government policies should support cultural tourism. The challenge is bestowed to the public-private sector to play its part.
The most important thing that tourism operators need to change is their attitude towards culture. They should come from the wrong perspective that culture, especially sub-culture, has much to do with primitive and black magic practices.
Culture has various categories which include religion, arts, music, language, customs, food and others. Even if some cultures might have questionable practices, we cannot umbrella everything as primitive and black.
For instance, when Ndau culture is given reference, most people are tempted to conclude that it’s all about black magic. Names of late traditional healers such as Chinengozi and Ndunge quickly come to mind whenever the word Ndau is said.
That kind of attitude is detrimental as far as the development of the cultural industry is concerned. Is it realistic that a culture doesn’t have rich and unique parts which can be marketed to tourists than always talking of black magic?
Another area where attitude change is vital is language. Artistes express themselves much better in their mother language. Isn’t it a wrong attitude to expect that all Zimbabwean culture groups express themselves in Ndebele, Shona, and English?
Zimbabwe has 16 official languages among them minority ones languages such as Xangani (Tsonga), Nambiya, Tonga, Tswao (San), Kalanga, Venda, Ndau and others.
Wouldn’t a Xokoto dance group from Chiredzi or a Mutshongoyo dance group from Chipinge express itself much better using Xangani and Ndau languages respectively?
Therefore, tourism operators are challenged to consider engaging cultural groups/artistes regularly. Suppose a hotel operator contracts a cultural group/artiste say, every weekend, how many groups would benefit countrywide? Wouldn’t this develop the cultural industry?
Secondly, cultural sites should be branded and given unique identity. This is where local government comes in. Rural and Town councils should be in the forefront of marketing local culture, heritage sites and museums.
Unfortunately, most of the councils and municipalities have a tired to no cultural policy at all. Other councils should pluck a leaf from Chiredzi Rural District Council (RDC).
Since 2013, Chiredzi RDC was the lead sponsor of a regional gala dubbed Great Limpopo Cultural Fair. It also donated 10ha of land to Centre for Cultural Development Initiative (former Gaza Trust) whose flagship the Great Limpopo Cultural Fair.
Thirdly, there is a serious problem which hinders the cultural industry development; piracy. Copyright has been weakened by piracy. Efforts to curb piracy by taking pirates head-on have proved unfruitful. Instead, pirates are increasing on the market by day.
In most cases, pirate electronic products like CDs and DVDs are selling for US$1 each and pirate printed A4 products selling US$1 for 30 copies. Original products range from six to fifteen times higher than pirated ones.
Fourthly, despite the scourge of piracy, cultural industries should be developed locally. Television content should be made from African folklore, especially tales. Children are watching foreign cartoons when local cultures are full of good narratives.
There is doubt that the content which is coming from outside is made up of narratives from those countries or regions. If we manage to give narratives from our own communities, how much will we contributing to the development of our cultural industry?
If all the above mentioned challenges which the creative industry is facing get addressed, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe might have a lucrative cultural industry which can contribute immensely to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.
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