Sanganai/Hlanganani Tourism and Travel Fair Africa provides a rare platform for visitors to experience Zimbabwe and tell the country’s real story, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has said.
Addressing delegates at a cocktail hosted for the fair’s buyers and media by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in Harare last night, Prof Moyo said over the past 14 years, the Zimbabwean situation has been headlined abroad by stories that did not depict the correct situation on the ground.
“Sanganai/Hlanganani is a true platform to tell the Zimbabwean story. It is a meeting place. It gives the opportunity to interact. And from an African point of view, if you are able to meet, then you are able to understand each other, you are able to break down barriers and you are able to go out there and tell the story. Whether you are from our country or not, you become the best person to tell the true story about our country.
“I am therefore certain that between now and the next Hlanganani, you will go out and tell the true Zimbabwean story. Why, how Zimbabwe despite the headlines you hear out there, is different from what you hear out there once you are here.
“For us, this event is important for one particular reason, one equally important reason, it gives us, it gives our country an opportunity to tell the true Zimbabwean story. For us this event is about telling the Zimbabwean story. But of course, to tell that story you need to know what it is and what it is not,’’ he said.
Prof Moyo said while Sanganai/Hlanganani might make a good headline story in the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services sector, it is a very important story in terms of telling the real Zimbabwean story.
“Secondly although many here, from the media both local and international, may be tempted to see the Zimbabwean story from headline news point of view, from the point of view of the news of the day about those two witches flying from Gokwe to Harare overnight doing wonders, about sentiments from politicians, so and so on. It is not that story which interests us in the headline in the information, media and broadcasting sector.
“But, in our view, it tells the Zimbabwean story. To us the Zimbabwean story is not about headline news. It’s a not about the news of the day. It is not about events and incidents that we have in our country.
“The Zimbabwean story is about the embodiment of our heritage. It is the total expression of our heritage from a social, economic, cultural and natural point of view. It’s about what God gave us, the people which makes us a wonder of the world, which makes us unique, which makes us different, which makes you come here to interact with us those of you who come to our country.
“The Zimbabwean story is of our heritage and the expression of this heritage which I am sure you have been exposed to since coming to our country. You find it in our food and I am not talking about sweet potatoes or sadza nenyama, I am talking about our historical food.
“One of the most fascinating human endeavours is food in history. It is about our art, it is about our music, it is about nature, our wildlife. It is about our culture, our values our tradition. This is what the Zimbabwean story is about. This is what you find that is unique about Zimbabwe when you come to our country. That is why we occupy a special place in the world. I am happy as a media person that there is a difference between a headline story and a story of heritage, which is about Zimbabwe.
Prof Moyo said Zimbabwe had benefited from negative publicity to the extent that every person in the world now wishes to visit the county.
“We have benefited a lot from headlines, I don’t know if there is any rational living person, serious person in the world who does not know that there is Zimbabwe. The events that have happened in the past 14 years have made us famous and I think everyone. Every visitor around the world is keen to come to Zimbabwe. To come to Zimbabwe as a result of these headlines, we heard on radio, television and online platforms and so on.
“But when they come to Zimbabwe, they are still looking for that headline story, they are looking for our heritage, for an opportunity to experience that heritage. Now if the true Zimbabwean story is about our heritage.
“That question for us especially for you in the local and international media, how can that story be told? There is no better way of telling the story than tourism. Tourism is the only platform to tell the full and true story of our heritage.
“If you want to experience, feel and understand people as a country, then welcome to tourism. That is why tourism is a very important strategic sector. It is the only available sector for us to express our heritage, celebrate our heritage with our visitor.
“To have fun to enjoy ourselves, just like what we are doing.
“And it is for this reason that tourism has been earmarked not only as a strategic sector but a priority sector in our Government policy over the next five years and we are very pleased that this sector is in the hand s of these capable men and women under the leadership of Minister (Walter) Mzembi who is the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry and organisation and parastatals under it, such as ZTA and ZCT,’’ he said.