As African culture seems to be drowning more and more in the waves of Westernisation that have swept the world the question that begs to be answered is; can we hold on to our roots?? Every year, Zambia and the rest of Africa celebrate African Freedom Day which falls on 25 May. On this day, the resounding words are about honouring freedom fighters, but issues of cultural freedom from the west are usually not prominent.
It seems that people are content to let every cultural craze sweep them off their feet and they have let go of their roots. In Zambia, The National Arts Council is an organisation that emphasises on the need to preserve culture especially thorugh the use of the arts.
Chairperson of National Arts Council (NAC) Mulenga Kapwepwe says we, as Africans, must become concious of the cultural imperialism, subjuggation and invasion in all its forms ad manage it to our advantage.
"Africans realised the political and legal limitations that imprisoned and oppressed us as colonial subjects, the same can be done with culture," she expressed.
Ms. Kapwepwe explained that the importance of having a defined culture cannot be over-emphasised although most cultures today have borrowed something from somewhere creating a fusion that has strengthened their cultures.
She detailed that western culture has borrowed much from African culture, stating that some of the most famous painters such as Picasso were greatly influenced by African art. Carl Jung the Psychiatrist developed his now famous theories on African experiences and of course African rhythms filter through the music of the world.
Ms. Kapwepwe further expressed that the Zambian culture can also benefit from blending with other cultures, although it is always good to be conscious of what you are blending your culture with and how much compromise or blending is being done as culture must be preserved.
Zambia has made striking developments through NAC in as far as cultural preservation is concerned.
“The National Arts Council supports provincial and national festivals in theatre, music and multi-disciplinary art forms, either through monetary, technical or facilitating support,” explains Ms. Kapwepwe.
One such festival that NAC has sponsored is the Tonga music festival hosted in Chikuni by Chikuni Radio Station.
Ms Kapwepwe explained that NAC is doing its best to find ways of preserving the Zambian culture through the arts.
“NAC has been busy with a number of policy and legislative frameworks that will strengthen the arts, culture and heritage sector. This is sorely needed as the sector is fragmented and underfunded. A lot has to be done to invigorate the cultural sector development,” she explains.
She further challenged government to champion the promotion of culture up to a certain level, mostly by creating a favourable playing field, and providing funding for large scale projects and initiatives.