Amakhosi Cultural Centre led an entourage of 23 Chinese journalists and photographers to a number of important historical and cultural sites around Bulawayo in a bid to market the city as a cultural tourism destination.
REPORT BY OUR STAFF
The visitors were taken to Mhlahlandlela, King Mzilikazi’s last palace and to his grave in Matobo.
King Mzilikazi died in September 1868 and his grave is at a hill called Entumbane in Matobo district.
“The Chinese group was in Bulawayo to sample and promote the cultural tours of the western region of the country,” said Amakhosi director, Cont Mhlanga.
Amakhosi showcased Ndebele praise poetry which narrated King Mzilikazi’s exploits. The songs, dances, praise poetry, stick fighting, call and response chants, were choreographed by Thembi Ngwabi, a renowned musician.
“Ngwabi also designed and hand-made the traditional Ndebele bead skirts, costumes and bangles,” said Mhlanga.
The procession to the royal grave was led by elders Prince Leo Khumalo, who is the third generation grandson of the King and Prince Fohlo Khumalo.
“Amakhosi’s heritage performances aim to bring to the public awareness of their historical and cultural heritage and encourage its local and global promotion and enjoyment.
“The Mhlahlandlela heritage performance gave the visitors a hint of next year’s Umgubho Festival. We aim at informing a larger Chinese audience to travel to Bulawayo and witness the festival,” said Mhlanga.
He said Chinese visitors were “totally impressed” by the tour.
Amakhosi Cultural Centre this year registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as a cultural destination.
“Our aim is to create heritage performance narratives based on specific locations and historical events as a way of creating a new form of educational and holiday leisure entertainment,” said Mhlanga.
“The centre focuses on forgotten or uncelebrated heritage sites as a way of attracting attention and developing them as new tourism destinations in Matebeleland besides Cecil John Rhodes’ grave and Khami Ruins,” he said.