Richmore Tera Features Writer
“I DON’T see any reason why we should send her to school. She is a girl and she can always get married, after all. So sending her to school is sheer waste of money!” Mr Zvidzai (not his real name)
shouted dismissively, nonchalantly smoking his pipe.
Mrs Zvidzai said nothing, for she dared not cross her husband’s path.
The head of the house had spoken, and his word was final.
This is the backward notion that some people, especially those in the rural areas, used to harbour, and still are harbouring against the girl child, despite concerted efforts by the Government and other organisations to encourage education for all.
It is believed that 21 percent of children in Zimbabwe, especially girls, lack access to education owing to cultural stereotypes which view them as commodities for marriage and therefore should be treated not as equals to the boy child.
They are forced into early marriages; hence their future prospects of making it in life are ruined.
Others fall victim to domestic, sexual, emotional and mental abuse which mar their future, leading into prostitution, alcohol and drug abuse, among others.
Recently, however, this myth was quashed after four girls from rural Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe put their area on the academic map following their educational feats.
The four — Ruvimbo Sharon, Mandivavarira, Grace and Rutendo — who are all below the age of 29 — traversed to different parts of the globe, to Australia and regionally in South Africa to study degrees in various disciplines.
Theirs is a typical case of the girl child breaking the proverbial glass ceiling that confines them from spreading their tentacles and reaching for the sky which is always the limit.
They are daughters of prominent legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa, who apart from being the Member of Parliament for Uzumba, defied all odds by teaching other men who believe that educating the girl child is a waste of time and money, a big lesson.
To prove how the girl deserves to be celebrated for being herself and that she also needs the support that she deserves in playing her part in issues to do with transforming not only her family but also her community and the nation at large, MP Mudarikwa last Saturday threw an all-night party for his four daughters for their hard work and commitment to education.
Beer flowed, beasts were slaughtered, music was played and dancers took to the podium in celebration of the achievements of these four girls who, according to one common Shona phrase, “ate the vocabulary — vakadya mabhii”.
Grace — the eldest — graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours (Information Systems and Technology), and a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and
Information Technology) from the University of KwaZulu Natal; Rutendo (Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws from Rhodes University); Mandivavarira (Bachelor of Laws, Masters of Laws in Human Rights Laws from the University of Cape Town) and Ruvimbo Sharon (Master of Arts from Sydney College of Divinity, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Monash University and Bachelor of Biomedical Science from Griffith University).
Mandivavarira said this proved that Zimbabwe had some of the best brains on the planet.
“Zimbabwe is an example in education. We have the best teachers and resources that enable us to have a good education.
“The teachers are dedicated and some of the countries the world over can actually learn a lot from the Zimbabwean system of education,” she said.
Mandivavarira who studied in South Africa was not all that easy.
“South Africa is a very complicated country but given its history of foreigners who are based there. But if you show that you are dedicated and professional they can start looking beyond that and look at you with different eyes. It doesn’t matter where you come from but what you can offer,” she said.
She said the gala to celebrate their achievements was an epitome of how the country’s girl child can go far with her education.
Her sister Ruvimbo also concurred with her when she said: “For me this an is encouragement for young girls to move on with their lives by pursuing education rather than rushing into marriage. Make something out of yourself. You don’t have to be always dependent on your husband. In an economy and society there is need for women to play their part and be part of transforming it for the better,” she said.
Ruvimbo said she achieved this owing to the support that she got from their family.
“It was more from the support that we got from our family, which is a Christian family. The church upbringing kept us grounded and focused as well as knowing our roots. Remembering that I was a rural girl from Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe kept me focused,” Ruvimbo, who was born on September 16, 1984, said.
Mandivavarira said the gala was a celebration of education.
“This was a celebration of education and the importance of it to the girl child. It should motivate other girls that no matter where you come from, you have to work hard for your betterment as well as that of your country.
“It is important to get an education because it opens the doors of opportunity for you in whatever you do in life. Growing up we went to the same school and we had a very humble upbringing. We were very different people but our grandmother taught us to appreciate each other even in our differences.
“We used to have extra lessons at home where our grandmother (Susan Mudarikwa) would always encourage us to study hard, although she was illiterate,” she said.
Mandivavarira urged parents to give their children the best support.
“Our dad is a very unique person, he managed to be a lot of things in our lives. He provided for our school and also bought me spectacles when I was Grade 1 when I became shortsighted,” she said.
The four sisters who will be going back to South Africa and Australia to pursue careers in their respective fields, have become the jewels of Murehwa, as was evidenced by the joy that their father expressed on the day of the celebrations.
The man, who is never short of words, was on cloud nine as some of the country’s musicians including Madzibaba Nicholas Zakaria, Takesure Muronzi, Douglas Chimbetu, among others, entertained Zimbabweans from all walks of life for a worthy cause.