Zimbabwe/ 8.4 Amateur arts, cultural associations and civil initiatives  

8.4.2 Cultural houses and community cultural clubs

The idea of culture houses in Zimbabwe started in the 1980s with the aim of preserving and showcasing local cultures and promoting tourist trade. The Zimbabwe National Library and Documentation Services Act of 1985 includes in one of its clauses that culture houses should be built for the spread of cultural information and its preservation for future generations.

The first culture house in Zimbabwe was established in 1984 and opened in 1985 at Murewa as a model facility for arts and culture promotion and development as well as, as a responsive initiative to the Cultural policy of Zimbabwe.

Until 2006 the Murewa Culture House was directly under the auspices and management of the ministry of Education Sports and Culture.  The responsibility for the operation of the Centre was then transferred to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe. Under the ministry, the House provided community service to the local constituency, housed works of arts by local artists and hosted workshops like The Pachipamwe Art Workshop. Most recently (2011) it hosted a national arts and culture indaba which was part of the national cultural policy review process.

The Centre houses, among many other facilities, a library, museum and an art gallery.  The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe`s took over the MCC in 2006, which saw it taking serious strides towards being transformed into a competitive outfit with a business flair. Its vision is to commercialize the operation of the centre through income generating programmes and outreach programmes.

In particular, local attractions such as the Murewa caves with rock paintings, which are more than 1000 years old, and the authentic nature of its environs in general as well as its proximity to Harare make it an ideal setting to celebrate African Zimbabwean Culture.
The centre also attracts local audiences through the promotion of exhibitions by local artists, local drama and music groups as well as offering programmes to local schools. The multi-purpose hall is hired by groups and individuals for weddings, workshops, church ceremonies and private parties.

Murewa Culture Centre plays home to the documentation of the Jerusarema Mbende Dance and the annual Jerusarema Mbende Festival. Different inventories and records of this dance are kept at the Centre. Mbende Jerusarema Dance was proclaimed a masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage.  It is performed by the community of Murewa and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP) in the North Eastern Districts of Zimbabwe.  The ancient fertility dance was called Dembe/Mbende, a shona word for “Mole” which signified fertility and hence the dance became very popular with the locals.

Source: http://www.natartszim.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&Itemid=193

Chapter published: 30-08-2012