By Tendai Rupapa in Gweru
First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa yesterday called for the preservation and generational transmission of cultural values which define evolutionary identity and instil moral values.
She said teaching of folk stories to children was one of the fundamental ways of transmitting these cultural values.
Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady recently launched #NganonaAmai initiative in Harare, where she invited schoolchildren for storytelling.
At the launch, she promised to take the programme to all the country’s 10 provinces and yesterday “Mbuya” Mnangangwa, as she is now affectionately known by the children, met with her grandchildren in the Midlands Province.
Hundreds of children drawn from various schools in the province thronged the Gweru State residence where they interacted with the First Lady.
“It is with great pleasure that I am meeting with you children here in Gweru at this event of storytelling under the support of my foundation — Angel of Hope,” she said.
“Ngano dzinobatsira kuti muve creative pamunenge muchinyora kuchikoro, uye dzinovhura pfungwa. (Your grandmother today has called you here for storytelling. I want to see if you know these folk stories and see if you can recite them because they also help you in school. They help you to be creative when writing essays and also they open your minds),” she said.
“Children, you are at the centre of my heart and you are the future leaders of our country. It is my desire that you grow up well and be empowered socially and economically so that you can have a prosperous future.”
The First Lady said in the past, storytelling helped in shaping one’s behaviour, thereby instilling discipline, adding that each folk tale had its meaning and lessons.
She said folk stories had many benefits that also helped reinforce the children’s basic listening, grammar and vocabulary skills.
“It is very important that you grow up with good morals, respect to the elderly and get to know our culture and the way of life that used to give us discipline, obedience and value to our culture,” said the First Lady.
“Izvi zvaibatsira kuti vana musanyanye kurasika mozopedzisira makurasa hunhu, makuita zvinhu zvinonyadzisa. (This helped in shaping the children’s behaviour, thereby avoiding mischievous behaviour).
“Today we are gathered here for you to participate in the session of ngano so that we all deduce the deeper meaning from it.”
The First Lady, who was seated on a reed mat throughout the programme, took time to listen to ngano from the children and also taught them the traditional way of living.
She brought various traditional utensils and instruments such as clay pots, cooking sticks, winnowing baskets, bows and arrows and drums, among other things, and she demonstrated to the children how people used to live long back, adding that some were still practising the old traditions.
“We also have our traditional practices that we used to do which were good at household level in the context of food processing like mortar and pestle,” said the First Lady.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Cde Larry Mavima thanked the First Lady for her attempts to revive cultural values.
“As Midlands, your presence in our province Amai inspires us to do more to preserve our culture,” he said.
“Thank you for helping to rekindle the cultural fire, thank you for your support towards reviving our culture.
“This is very important because in the old history we did not have the tradition of writing things down, history was shared through storytelling.
When the First Lady started this programme ‘ngano nevana’ we were happy that our tradition was now being revived.”
It was indeed a fun-filled occasion and children went away with, among other things, food hampers and school material from the First Lady.