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    Thursday, March 21, 2024

    Zimbabwe: Gastronomy Tourism Promotes Inclusivity

    Gloria Muruva and Rumbidzai Mushonga

    Gastronomy tourism helps promote social empowerment and inclusivity within communities, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Barbara Rwodzi, has said.

    She said this while addressing guests on the second day of Amai's Cookout Competition held at University of Zimbabwe on Tuesday.

    Minister Rwodzi said gastronomy tourism provides an opportunity for locals to engage with visitors, exchange ideas and share their stories.

    "Through culinary experiences, community members become ambassadors of their culture, showcasing their unique perspectives and fostering cross-cultural understanding creating a harmonious society," she said.

    While local communities actively participate in the development and management of gastronomy tourism initiatives, they earn a sense of ownership and influence over their future for economic gains, said Minister Rwodzi.

    "Gastronomy tourism empowers communities by fostering cultural preservation and pride. The culinary traditions passed through generations are a vital part of a community's heritage.

    "It provides an avenue to showcase and preserve our values and norms, instilling a sense of pride and drawing communities closer to the roots," she said.

    Recognising and appreciating cultural heritage does not only empower individuals to take ownership of their traditions, but also fosters inter-generational knowledge transfer for the benefit future generations, said Minister Rwodzi.

    Speaking at the same event, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said Zimbabweans should embrace the traditional foods.

    "There was also active discouragement of growing our own food, which in actual fact was well suited in our environment," said Prof Murwira.

    "The main reason was hegemonic. This is common in defeated societies because when societies are defeated, they first of all say 'your food is not good', then they say 'your religion is bad'.

    "Unique things are found in unique places. The basic ecology tells us that different plants and animals do well in particular environments. Societies in different parts of the globe, tend to specialise in making food from unique environments where they live."

    Some of the contestants praised First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for the cookout competition.

    Ms Catherine Matika from Belvedere Teacher's College who clinched first position, said: "I am so excited and so happy to be in this competition. Thank you so much, Amai, for this opportunity. Being the first winner, I am so excited. Thank you for the support from my lecturers and the students as well."

    Ms Joyce Nyamayaro from the University of Zimbabwe, who was the first runner-up, said: "I am very grateful and feeling very honoured to be able to participate in this great team.

    "For me, it has been a genuine self-discovery, discovering something that I didn't even know about.

    "I am thankful for the vision of our mother (Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa). We actually look forward to the opportunity to continue to work with them."

    Mr Gabriel Maniande, a part -final student at the University of Zimbabwe who was the second runner-up, said: "I feel very much overwhelmed right now. I feel appreciated to be having such a position as a gentleman."

    Amai's cookout competition, started on Monday, with Minister Rwodzi saying Amai's cookout completion had placed Zimbabwe in good stead ahead of first-ever United Nations Tourism Africa gastronomy showcase set for July 26 to 28, in Victoria Falls. The event will showcase the vast and vibrant African cuisine.

    Dr Mnangagwa introduced Amai's cookout completion in 2019, but has let the Ministry of Tourism coordinate the implementation of the programme, together with provinces and other line Ministries.

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