Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa has said culture is an important element to boost the tourism sector in the country.
Nankhumwa, who represented President Peter Mutharika as guest of honour at the sixth edition of the Umthetho Cultural Festival in Mzimba on Saturday, said culture is a by-product of tourism.
He said: “When tourists come to the country, apart from seeing wildlife, they would want to see cultural values such as traditional dances and pottery. You cannot talk about successful tourism without inclusion of culture. Culture remains an integral part in as far as tourism of any country is concerned.”
Nankhumwa commended the Ngoni for holding the event which, he said, is a positive step towards promoting cultural values in the country.
“Government has been saying a clan or tribe without cultural values is like a tree without roots. So, seeing the Ngonis celebrating Umthetho is a plus and a great contribution to the development of culture in the country,” he said.
Umthetho is an annual cultural event for the Jere Ngoni to promote, preserve and interpret Ngoni traditions and cultural heritage such as dance, food and clothing.
This year, organisers Mzimba Heritage Association used the event, under the theme Our Culture and Climate Change, as a platform to fight harmful practices that degrade the environment.
The event started on Thursday with the M’mbelwa Chiefs Council meeting to deliberate on the theme and come up with measures to address issues of deforestation which Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa V said “is the major challenge for the district” due to charcoal production.
The event climaxed on Saturday with an attendance by local and international dignitaries.
Some notable dignitaries included Prince Zwide Khumalo from Zimbabwe, Inkosi ya Makhosi Zulu Gama from Tanzania, high commissioners from South Africa and Mozambique, politicians, government officials and chiefs from various districts.
Mzimba Heritage Association chairperson Boston Soko reiterated the importance of Hora Mountain Heritage Centre, which hosts the event, as having potential to promote tourism in the country, given its history as an epicentre for early Ngoni settlements.
He said: “Hora is a beautiful mountain which we feel would help boost tourism in the country. The mountain is 1 718 metres above sea level, just three metres less than Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. And from the base, it is two kilometres to the top where it has the size of a football pitch.”
Soko said the mountain gives nice views of Mzimba Boma, Kasitu Valley, Ezondweni area, Viphya Plateau, Lake Malawi and Manda Hill in Zambia.