|He has a passion for books, trees|
|Friday, 13 July 2012 10:11|
A look into what constitutes Zimbabwe’s number one literacy rating in Africa is like a journey into the human body.
As a system the body comprises structures in the form of vital and other organs and other body parts that play independent roles but which ultimately contribute to the life and sustenance of the whole body.
Similarly, the educational system has structures — pre-schools, primary schools, high schools and colleges and universities that boast hierarchical, functional importance in the same way as body structures do with governmental and private organisations and the public feeding into the survival and growth of the system with material and human resources.
A retired schoolteacher at Jerera Growth Point in Zaka, Masvingo Province, has probably singularly contributed to Zimbabwe’s high literacy standing in Africa more than anyone family, pushing six of his children through university.
Girls are shunned in communities, Mr Mateko observed and added: “Because five of the graduates are girls, I wanted to demonstrate to our community the importance of educating women.”
Three of the Mateko girls and an only brother studied at the University of Zimbabwe. The fourth girl went to Solusi University and the sixth is currently reading for a degree in religious studies at Great Zimbabwe University.
But she resolved this late in her life to enter university “because I do not want to be left behind by the other family members”.
Mr Mateko is also a unique person in his own right.
The fruit trees preserved at his homestead include some which probably have already vanished from the earth’s face elsewhere.
Environmentalists have repeatedly warned the public to refrain from destroying forests with wanton disregard for their preservation. Wild fruits are known to contain medicinal properties, so that their destruction leaves Zimbabweans more poorer since those trees are unlikely to become extinct.
It is also known that trees migrate or relocate from areas where they are endangered to safer zones, thereby depriving communities, and indeed, the whole country, of the role of trees in the fight against global warming.
It is possible that should the worst come to the worst environmentally in the future, Mr Mateko’s homestead might become a nursery for wild fruit trees that communities might wish to transport to their own homes for their restoration.
Perhaps concerted efforts should begin now to have the planting of wild fruit trees in homes across the country as an integral part of what has become a tree planting ritual each year in December.
When educating girls to give them a greater, societal role to play in a post-modern Zimbabwe and regreening the country are considered, the wider public might find it not only necessary but imperative to take a leaf out of Sungai Stratford Mateko’s book.