By Bruce Chahwanda and Justin Mahlahla
President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the national dress is an expression of social and cultural identity hence the need to preserve traditional and cultural heritage to foster a sense of national identity.
The National Dress programme was spearheaded by First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa as dressing plays a symbolic role in identity formation.
In his address at the provincial national dress competitions held in Harare today, President Mnangagwa said the concept of creating a national dress had been embraced by traditional leaders, so no one will stand in its way and it will remain the country’s national fabric.
“I congratulate the women of Zimbabwe led by the First Lady to have achieved this great and historic achievement, which gives us a people a national identity forever.
“The national dress is an expression of our social and cultural identify as a people. Out valuable traditional and cultural heritage must be preserved and developed in order to foster a sense of national identity, prides and unity. It is necessary to reformulate cultural values and valuing processes, in order 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 essential for signifying and expressing subtle cultural value and social relationships. It details the intimate link that exists between people and their tradition and this lies at the core of our national identity,” he said.
“National costumes generally preserve traditional art and craft that are an important part of a country’s heritage. This makes them an important way of learning about our history.”
He said fashion shapes people’s appearances to show certain aspects and values.
“It also gives expression to our nation’s sense of beauty, its ability to come up with designs that embodies its craft, the colours and culture, thereby creating its own uniqueness as the national costume of a country,” said President Mnangagwa.
This is our national heirloom, to be handed down from one generation to the next, said the President, adding, “Please give the national dress space in your wardrobes.”
He said the national attire gives Zimbabweans an identity through which to foster unity even with those who have crossed various borders in pursuit of unity and wholeness as one people.
Vice President General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga said the national dress is meant to deepen culture and strengthening unity among citizens.
“The purpose of the national fabric the world over is to deepen people’s identity and higher their distinct personality,” he said.
Various fashion styles were showcased in the areas of Presidential wear, Chefs’ attire and sportswear designed from the country’s ten provinces.