Tendai Rupapa in MASHONALAND WEST
HUNDREDS of boys and girls from Kadoma and Chegutu yesterday punched the air with excitement after First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa appointed them “morality ambassadors” after attending her educative Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme where they were imparted with wisdom and urged to honour the country’s traditional norms and values.
Amai Mnangagwa urged them to share the knowledge with their peers in schools and communities and later invite her to see where they would have reached with the programme.
This came as chiefs said Zimbabwe was blessed to have a First Lady who is concerned about the social and moral conduct of its citizens, and has struck the right chord by initiating the educative Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme to control youths who have largely lost morals and abusing drugs due to westernisation.
The nationwide programme, the chiefs said, had given them a head-start and were finding ways and means to carry forward the teachings to foster peace in communities and nurture morally upright citizens.
Chief Rwizi, Mr Merekio Tsuro of Mhondoro Mubaira, could not hide his appreciation for First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s vision.
Speaking during the Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba programme in Kadoma yesterday, Chief Rwizi said as traditional leaders they had embraced Dr Mnangagwa’s programme meant to instil discipline and promote cultural values saying the children had gone wild.
“I am thankful for this programme that is being spearheaded by the First Lady countrywide. When we go back to our areas of jurisdiction, we are going to teach our communities the lessons we are getting from Amai. Our children are now very lost with some very young people now having children before the time is ripe. They are engaging in sexual activities when they are still in school. They are also consuming drugs and committing murder without fear which shows loss of traditional values. We want to carry the teachings we have received today to our communities so that our families understand the need to revert to the traditional way of life. Gota and Nhanga were very essential during our days as they helped us preserve our lives before westernisation affected us. Once again, we are thankful to the First Lady for the programme. Zimbabwe is indeed blessed to have her as the mother of the nation,” he said with admiration.
Chief Mujinga, Mr Mutenhe Madanairwa, said the First Lady’s programme of teaching young people manners was important.
“We are happy for this programme because our children are not behaving well in the communities we live in. They are abusing drugs and some of them are dying because of these drugs. They are no longer living well and are now disrespectful.
“This programme by the First Lady is good to us as chiefs because she is helping us to counsel the children. We are going to continue teaching our children and working with the headmen to achieve this. This is a good programme as it teaches people to go back to tradition and it helps lower mischief in today’s youth,” he said.
The children were taught to prepare nutritional traditional dishes which they largely shunned in favour of Western meals which however, exposed them to hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity, among a host of other health challenges.
Girls were taught by the First Lady and elderly women to cook nhopi, (a mixture of pumpkins, peanut butter and mealie-meal), okra, dried mushroom, pumpkins, pumpkin leaves, Munyemba, sorghum sadza and Mukanya which is boiled maize and pumpkins.
They were also shown how to grind grains on stone and pounding using a pestle and mortar.
Traditional herbs were also on display and the children were taught their uses.
Boys were taught how to slaughter a goat, carpentry and various household chores. The children were taken through various lessons by the First Lady and elderly women for girls while boys were taken through their lessons by chiefs, headmen and elderly men from the community. The mother of the nation urged the children to attach importance to her teachings.
“Whenever women meet, they learn a lot. Our children, we have come to talk to you while you also ask questions. I have been prompted to make this visit by the way we are living in families. Our daughters no longer value themselves. I want our daughters to understand that they are important to every woman because we have the same stature. How then are you protecting your bodies, vanangu? The bible says your body is the temple of Christ. As mothers we have come to counsel our daughters who are walking in the nude. When I am here I am not a First Lady, but a mother, a grandmother and an aunt. What you learn here will help you in future. If you comprehend what we will teach you here and value your education, it means you will excel and Angel of Hope Foundation will award you scholarships to pursue your studies abroad. Rushing to have sexual relations is not an achievement asikana. Let us discuss everything today because where there is a mother, you discuss everything,” she said.
Mrs Catherine Brando, a school teacher, expressed gratitude to the First Lady for her educative programme.
“As teachers Amai, we have where we end in teaching our children especially the girl-child. We are thankful that you have come today together with our elderly ana chipangamazano to teach our children,” she said.
Gogo Anna Bhechani spoke about the growth of the girl child.
“When a girl has grown up, in most cases her body will be craving for boys. However, we say ‘vhulala kuvhura muromo’ speaking against being fondled by boys and ‘vhalala kuvhara makumbo’, not rushing to have sexual relations as advised by our mother.
“If you rush to have sexual intercourse at a tender age you will be creating challenges for yourself. You will be digging your grave because sex spawns many diseases,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa said the training she had given to the children was not a licence to delve into adult games and thanked the teachers for coming to the programme and encouraged them to continually teach the children in schools and communities.
Amai Mnangagwa also taught the girls personal and menstrual hygiene before giving them reusable sanitary pads.
Both boys and girls in the Nhanga and Gota, were taught by the elderly the traditional way of marriage where a girl would be officially handed over to the family of her husband and the kind of things she carried and what was expected of her.
The mother of the nation appointed the girls and boys ambassadors of the programme and
After the separate sessions, the mother of the nation later addressed both boys and girls where she decried the issue of alcohol and drug abuse.
“Our children are ruined by intoxicating substances and if you push them with a finger they drop down. These children are stealing and selling their parents’ livestock to get money for drugs, they are committing heinous crimes including rape and murder under the influence of drugs. I am thankful today for the teachings we have imparted in our children. Let us have time to teach our children as parents because some of them are crying that we have no time with them,” she said.
She taught boys and girls in schools to respect each other and treat each other as brother and sister.
Amai Mnangagwa appointed the girls and boys ambassadors of the programme and urged them to share their knowledge with their peers in schools and communities and later invite her to see where they would have reached with the programme.
She said they should also invite her together with the elderly men and women and see the children counselling each other.
The children were given school stationery by the First Lady.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, praised the First Lady for the programme.
“We thank you for coming up with this programme Amai because our children are affected by peer pressure due to westernisation. If you see Amai coming to teach you it’s a blessing vasikana.
“Those who were misbehaving are now asking themselves whether what they were doing was worth it. This is a chance of a lifetime you had of being taught by Amai, therefore grab it with both hands. Be a shining example wherever you are. Amai there was this gap with our daughters which you have bridged,” she said.
Deputy Minister of Local Government and Public Works, Marian Chombo, was also in the Nhanga with the girls.
Both boys and girls expressed gratitude for the teachings they had been imparted with, courtesy of Dr Mnangagwa.
Tinotenda Magara expressed gratitude to the First Lady for teaching them what they did not know.
“I am happy Amai has bridged the gap which was not being filled by our parents and guidance who no longer have time for us due to their pressing work schedules and the coming in of social media as they are spending more time on their mobile phones. I have taken the teachings to heart and will share the knowledge she has passed with my friends who could not attend today’s programme,” she said.
Similar sentiments were shared by Samuel Mutero who said he had been thrilled by the lesson on slaughtering goats.
“I had never seen a goat being slaughtered all my life. This lesson has been an eye-opener for me since I grew up in the city where we buy meat from butcheries. I have also loved the teachings against abusing drugs and alcohol. Most of our age mates are now slaves to beer and this might not have been the case had we been exposed to such lessons earlier. We want to thank Amai for her vision,” he said.
Mr Rangani Mutunami, who was in the Gota with the boys, showered the First Lady with praises for initiating the programme.
“The First Lady’s visit has pleased us because we have so many young children who are still to understand where we are coming from and going. A mother’s voice is good and is heard and listened to by many. What then shall we do as parents to speak with one voice with the young ones so that they understand their future. Going forward, we are going to occasionally take the young and teach them. We are now going to make clubs in schools where we will go about teaching the children with the aim of making them understand what they want and what the nation needs. What is it that boys want? Now that we have challenges with drugs, what then shall we do? Our children have lost morals. They are now disrespectful because of the drugs they are taking. Early marriages are also causing us to ensure children are taught our morals and norms. The aim is to take them back to tradition. I thank Amai, the First Lady for what she is doing in this country. We are blessed as a country to have her as the First Lady,” he said.