Empty seats as revellers shun festival
One of the founding members of Domboshaba Cultural Trust and a popular cultural activist Tjakabaka Matenge gave the current board a public dressing down at the 17th annual Domboshaba Festival.
Held under the theme: ‘Preserving Ikalanga Culture for The Present and Future Generations’, the festival registered what could be a record low turn-out.
Matenge, who was invited to be the guest speaker at the 11th hour, did not hold back and did little to hide his displeasure with the way things are being run at one of the country’s oldest cultural events.
Speaking at the poorly attended show, he revealed he received his invitation on the 27th of September, just four days before the two-day event.
“Although I was delighted to be invited, I took the invitation with a bit of reservation as it came very late,” he said, adding that his late invite highlights exactly what is wrong with the Domboshaba Cultural Trust.
“It has been impossible to hold meetings. We failed to elect a new board because the Annual General Meeting was scheduled for August, a month before this event. We failed to elect a new committee and decided that the old committee continue,” he complained.
The almost-emotional Matenge said he does not believe in a committee that serves two terms, stressing that it was important for fresh faces to come in with new ideas.
“The younger the better,” he added, before ruefully admitting that the once popular cultural event has lost its spark.
Matenge is adamant that as one of the oldest events in the country, Domboshaba should be at the forefront and a reference for benchmarking.
“But cultural festivals which started just eight years ago are doing far much better than us! Why have we become complacent in the last couple of years. We gave birth to this initiative and we should be nurturing it,” he said.
The veteran further urged the current board, which took over in 2011, to hold an AGM where a new committee will be ushered in.
He said Domboshaba should never lose focus of its core mandate, which is to celebrate, rekindle and preserve the Ikalanga culture and history.
Matenge reminded the few who attended that despite early obstacles, like segregation by foreign forces, Bakalanga have a long and rich history they should be proud of.
“Recent studies indicate that well before the colonial era, around 500-1000 (AC) Bakalanga had already crossed the Zambezi river,” he said.
Matenge added that the Ikalanga tribe originates from the areas of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. “They’d later occupy most of South Western Zimbabwe and north-east Botswana.
“This is the history we should be teaching our children. Although we have had challenges, there’s always something that draws us together,” said Matenge.
The activist further berated organisers for ignoring other indigenous languages.
Describing language and culture as two sides of the same coin, Matenge said, “It is important that all other indigenous languages are nurtured, and this can only happen if they are being taught in schools to prevent them from extinction.”