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By Elita Chikwati
The new national dress was endorsed by President Mnangagwa who sees it fostering a sense of patriotism, national identity, sovereignty and pride among Zimbabweans.
First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa officially launched the national fabric in Harare yesterday at the provincial level and the event was embraced by many people. The function was attended by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, ministers, legislators, senior Government officials, chiefs and designers, among others.
Last year, designers were tasked to come up with a national dress whose features are the Zimbabwe Bird, chiffons and elements from the flag that would be appropriate for all occasions and make people feel proudly Zimbabwean.
The dress was to be designed in a way that depicts the identity, usually associated with a geographic area or a period of time in history.
President Mnangagwa said the national dress was an expression of social and cultural identity of the people that should be passed from one generation to the other. National costumes preserved traditional art and crafts, which are an important part of a country, region or culture, heritage and also a way of learning history, living and evolving art form that could give one a glimpse into the culture of a country or group.
“Our valuable traditional and cultural heritage must be preserved and developed to foster a sense of national identity, pride and unity. It is necessary to reformulate cultural values and valuing processes to move with current trends by merging culture and its meaning found in material objects.
“The national dress will be recognised as one of the many valuable material culture objects essential for signifying and expressing subtle cultural value and social relationships. It details the intimate links that exist between people and their tradition and this lies at the core of our national identity,” he said.
The President expressed gratitude to the First Lady for the interest and energy she placed in coming up with the national fabric. “Thank you Amai because the dress carries the entire framework of values by which we as individuals or societies identify ourselves with and our status in the world. Having a national dress is therefore of great value to Zimbabwe as a nation,” he said.
He applauded designers for their innovations in creating a national dress which will serve as a source of inspiration to drive modern fashion and trends.
“The exhibitions display the different pieces carefully crafted for every Zimbabwean’s comfort and at maximum quality. Please give the national dress a place in your wardrobe and enjoy the treasured memories of your travels every time you put them on,” he said.
He said through the fabric, Zimbabweans would be easy to identify.
“There will be no need definitely for people to ask to which country we belong because our national attire gives us an identity.
“In this way we can foster unity with those who have crossed various borders as we all find meaning and wholeness in this national dress. I believe fashion is a form of universal language which allows for the construction and deconstruction of our identities,” he said.
He urged the nation to continue promoting the national dress to deepen the country’s cultural values in the minds of the children.
President Mnangagwa applauded chiefs for embracing the national dress.
“The coming of the chiefs shows that the concept of the national dress has been embraced by our traditional leaders who are owners of the land. No one will stand in its way,” he said.
VP Chiwenga said the national dress was another milestone of the Second Republic that strengthens unity and patriotism.
“The purpose of the national fabric world over is to deepen people’s identity and highlight their distinct diversity.
“The moment we identify ourselves collectively as Zimbabwe, with a culture and heritage reflected through a national dress symbol, it denotes a dedication to our country without having to say anything. Special mention should be extended to the First Lady and all stakeholders for the support. The innovation and creativity is highly commendable,” he said.
Chief Nechombo said the role of traditional leaders was to position, preserve and promote culture.
“We need to go back and rediscover our mighty precious values. The national dress has been our greatest desire and now we desire to move forward with the national fabric,” he said.