Chinese fall in love with Zimbabwe stone sculpture

The National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe said on Friday Zimbabwe’s stone sculpture on exhibition at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo has particularly proved popular among Chinese visitors.

Assistant curator Thomas Pasirai who recently went to Shanghai as an expert to help set up Zimbabwe’s exhibition in the African pavilion, told Xinhua in an interview that the Chinese were fascinated by Zimbabwe’s stone works.

“The Zimbabwean pavilion is fantastic and the Chinese are very excited about our pavilion to the extent that we have got some Chinese who are being photographed with some of the life-size stone works while others get excited to the extent of kissing the works,” Pasirai said.

He said Zimbabwe was in a unique position in that it was one of the few countries that produce stone sculpture different from other African countries.

“Other African countries do wood work and other materials but with us it is that stone sculpture which is particularly exciting the Chinese,” he said.

The National Art Gallery shipped about 80 pieces of stone carvings that are on display at the Shanghai Expo. These were sourced from various artists and different studios in the country, Pasirai said.

Other products being marketed include basketry, wooden drums and stools.

Organizations such as the National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority are also exhibiting.

“By the end of this month we will be having exhibitions like trophies and stuffed animals,” he said.

Pasirai said Zimbabwe’s pavilion was exceptionally designed according to the Great Zimbabwe, the amazing ancient ruins from which Zimbabwe derive its name. The ruins, in scripted in 1986 as the UNESCO World Heritage site, is among Zimbabwe’s great tourist attractions.

The other side of the pavilion shows the mighty Victoria Falls while the other shows pictures of flora and fauna and the different projects being undertaken in Zimbabwe to improve the lives of communities, Pasirai said.

He said Zimbabwe was highlighting these projects in keeping with the theme of the Expo, which is “Better City, Better Life” from where Zimbabwe has adapted its theme “Transforming our Communities for A better Life”.

“We are doing this to enable the Chinese to understand us more. We want them to understand that Zimbabwe is a beautiful nation where they can enjoy the flora and fauna.”

Zimbabwe is sharing exhibition space with other African countries in the African pavilion where it is neighbors with Zambia and Uganda.

There is also a selling bazaar where exhibitors from different African countries are selling their wares.

Pasirai commended China for the excellent way it had created the Expo, noting that China’s design culture was very advanced.

China’s promotion of the green environment and the general hygiene on the streets also caught Pasirai’s eye who hoped Zimbabweans will emulate some of the hygienic standards in the Asian country.

“The Chinese do have a culture of management of waste from an individual perspective and I hope our people will learn from them, “he said.

Zimbabwe will send about 60 small and medium enterprises to exhibit at the Expo which started in May and ends in October this year. The entrepreneurs will go in batches of 10 per month.

More than 200 countries and up to 80 million visitors are expected to descend on Shanghai for the six-month exposition, and Zimbabwe will get a chance on August 11- a national day set for it- to showcase its economic, tourism and business potential to the world.

Each participating country will have a day set aside for it to market itself to the outside world.

Apart from marketing various products, Zimbabwe has said it will take the Expo as an image building opportunity after years of negative publicity from the Western media.

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