The Herald (Harare)

14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Zim-India Arts, Craft Ties Hailed

THE National Gallery of Zimbabwe and the National Institute of Design in India should come up with a curriculum and capacity building initiatives in art and craft to ensure artworks meet international standards, a Government official has said.

Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development, Sithembiso Nyoni, said this in a speech read on her behalf by the ministry's permanent secretary, Mrs Evelyn Ndlovu, during an exhibition of samples and prototypes at the National Art Gallery on Saturday.

Minister Nyoni called on arts and craft centres in Zimbabwe and India to continue working together in empowering their people.

"The Government of Zimbabwe through my ministry is appreciative of this gesture by the Indian government through the Ministry of External Affairs and National Institute of Design. We, in Government see it as the first step in empowering our people.

"The ministry, however, would like to see the programme cascaded to all the provinces of the country so that it becomes national in nature," she said.

She also encouraged the two institutions to come up with initiatives especially on cultural exchange that can enable artists produce more appealing pieces for international markets.

"The National Handcraft Centre and Mbare Vocational Training Centres are good examples where such skills are needed and whatever products produced are of high quality that can meet international standards and will open doors for Zimbabwean arts and craft," said the minister.

Speaking at the same occasion, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Jeitendra Tripathi, rallied behind the support given to arts and craft sector by the two countries.

"On behalf of my country India, would like to comment the relationship between our countries. We managed to engage our people in a cultural exchange programme so that they can learn and teach each other new skills.

"Talented artists from Zimbabwe visited India for two weeks where they leant a lot and we hope the knowledge imparted will benefit everyone at grassroots level in both countries," said Mr Tripathi.

The National Gallery's director Mrs Doreen Sibanda also took the opportunity to thank the Government's support in their bid to achieve their goals.

"I thank our Government and the ministry for supporting us in our one year project that has today produced results. This has seen us being able to fulfill our mandate of empowering rural women in traditional craft," she said.

The programme took place under the aegis of the Africa India Forum Summit in terms of India's NID, assisted by the New Basket Workshop, while working with basket weavers in five countries in Africa, with Zimbabwe being the first.

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