By Steve Ephraem
We arrive at Bangira Primary School, about 45km from Chipinge town. Here, we are welcomed by a Miss Marrylin Mudhaya who instructs us to drive a half kilometre further. The time she stops us, there is no sign of a settlement but dense forest. We wonder what she is thinking of us.
Smiling to our team, she says, “Taguma” a Ndau word for “We have arrived.” We disembark from our vehicle and follow behind her as she treks into undisturbed nature. In no time we see a stone designed entrance.
Beyond it we see many people who are arranged in groups. A big banner written “Paiyapo Arts Development and Heritage Centre, home of Ndau Festival of the Arts” welcomes us.
We are now at a Ndau cultural village. Marrylin hands over our team to Mr Phillip Kusasa, the founder and director of Ndau Festival of the Arts.
The heavily bearded Kusasa could be mistaken for a tough man but as we interact with him, one could see that he is an ever laughing fellow and easy to converse with. He wastes no time and starts guiding us to various sections of the Ndau cultural village.
At the kitchen, we met two elderly women who exhibit various kinds of food and beverages eaten by the Ndau people. We enter the inside the hut and see how the Ndau kitchen looks like. This becomes my first day to eat bread that is baked from fresh maize grain.
We move to the bedroom where Kusasa gives details of the similarities and differences of parents and children’s bedrooms. Each bedroom is designed in a feature which denotes the activities held by the family members; father, mother, the girl and the boy.
Our next stop is the green culture section where the Ndau people practice various cultural conservation methods. It is so interesting to note that Ndau culture is pregnant with conservation.
From the conservation section, we are guided to the men’s court called bandla.
Here the men are discussing various topics but we find them still deliberating on the erosion of African traditional customs. Mr Freddy Bandama, a retired educationist is leading the discussions. Village Head Mutape Bangira is also in attendance.
There are two big clay pots which are containing tradition beer and the men are helping themselves with the brew as they discuss. We enjoy the discussions as some of the members are now shouting on top of their voices, a sign of intoxication.
From there we go to the women’s museum where refined artist, Edwin Hlatswayo exhibits his creativity. There, most of the drawing on displays are themed on women challenges especially during natural disasters such Tropical Cyclone Idai which had just ravaged Chipinge and Chimanimani.
Finally, we move to the arena where we are treated with traditional dance. The elderly members of the group defy the odds with their Mutshongoyo and Mphongo dancing antics. Suddenly, it begins to rain but the dancers continue as though nothing is happening.
Soon, the rain stops. Our team leader gives a vote of thanks for the treat we had just received. The hosts give us some traditional food and beverages. This marks the end of trip at Paiyapo Heritage and Arts Development Centre.
Everyone in our team heads for our vehicle quite satisfied that Ndau culture is rich.