COVID-19 Impacting Local Culture – Bemoans Traditional Leader

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By Staff Reporter

A TRADITIONAL leader has bemoaned how COVID-19 is negatively affecting local cultures especially on the issue of social gatherings, a hallmark of communal life.

Lupane traditional leader, Vusumuzi Khumalo, better known as Chief Mabhikwa said in a recent virtual interaction with social workers from across Zimbabwe, that social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 had proved to be a cause for concern among rural communities.

However, he was quick to urge communities to avoid taking risks that could expose them to coronavirus and to comply with government directives in observing social distancing and other regulations like wearing face masks in public places.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our cultural practices. The situation becomes a challenge when it comes to social gatherings which are the hallmark of our communal life,” Chief Mabhikwa said.

“Social distancing is a serious cause for concern. As a community, we have serious shortfalls where it can be possible to maintain social distancing. In the case of funerals, the situation is quite fragile to everyone. However, the general observe social distancing, and maintain the highest standards of hygiene something which is difficult in our culture.”

The government, as part of its lockdown rules, is allowing only 50 people to gather for a funeral wake.

Chief Mabhikwa said to save lives, it was a necessity for communities to adhere to government dictates on how to curb COVID-19 ahead of cultural norms.

“We are guided by a Statutory Instrument, in actual fact, no-one is above the law of the country. As chiefs, we are preaching awareness, educating communities in line with the guidelines from the Ministry of Health,” he said, adding the pandemic had proved to be a challenge for everyone regardless of geographical location.

The chief also raised concerns that some unregistered churches in Lupane were not adhering to lockdown regulations, which has seen places of worship and gatherings being banned.

“It is difficult for some churches to comply but registered churches are fully complying with the directives. We are in unusual times and cases are unpredictable,” he said.