Covid19 and its associated lockdown measures will result in the merging and fusion of different cultural aspects thereby increasing diversity as different communities adopt similar practices to limit the spread of the disease.

These sentiments were expressed by participants during the ResiliArt Zimbabwe debate hosted by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe on Wednesday through the online Zoom Conferencing facility that focused on the impact of Covid19 on Zimbabwean cultural practices.

Participants observed that the disease and the various measures implemented by governments to curb its spread had already created new subcultures including online journalism, music concerts, exhibitions as well as the proliferation of digital engagement platforms.

Great Zimbabwe University lecturer Jasper Maphosa said it was important to realise that Culture is not static but it is dynamic and fluid as certain things that were not allowed a few decades are now allowed, thus there was a need to embrace some of the new emerging subcultures in Zimbabwe.

“COVID 19 has enriched cultural diversity while some practices are being pushed to the periphery. Post the COVID era we are going to live with new rules regarding family gatherings, the way we conduct traditional ceremonies like Nhimbe and burials. COVID is bringing in some universal ways of doing things which are coming to affect the long-held cultural traditions of certain societies”, he said.

Veteran Theatre producer Daves Guzha observed that some cultural practices in Zimbabwe were responsible for the low rate of local transmission of COVID19. He said social distancing has always been practised in Zimbabwe as most communities did not ascribe to the handshake, hugs and kisses when greeting each other.

“The handshake is very transactional. So, greetings were always from a distance. Maingokwazisana muchiomberana maoko Makadii Makadii. (You would great each other with clapping of hands while saying how are you). So COVID 19 is bringing back in a more or less full circle this type of greeting, which is the way we have always greeted each other”, he said.

Traditional healer and Counsellor Sibongile Sokhani highlighted that COVID 19 was threatening the moral fabric of Zimbabwean society as it is creating enemies between family members stuck together during lockdown without access to mediation due to lockdown measures.

“Imagine a situation where the family is stuck with a breadwinner who cannot go to fend for the family and the family has to face hunger and they start looking for scapegoats and blaming each other resulting in hatred and even physical fights, she said.

The ResiliArt Zimbabwe debates are run by NACZ under the auspices UNESCO and seek to find sustainable ways of enhancing creativity in the CCI sector in times of crises.