Tendai Rupapa-Senior Reporter
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa last week treated her husband, President Mnangagwa to an African-themed 79th birthday dinner where mouth-watering traditional dishes were served as she presses ahead with her promotion of indigenous dishes which have high nutritional value and medicinal properties.
Guests at the party saw the mother of the nation practising what she preaches during her countrywide interactive programmes as she knelt before her husband with humility.
In her Nharirire yeMusha programme, couples are advised to love one another with women urged to respect their husbands and become their support pillars.
She has also been going around the country with her cookout traditional meal competition showcasing the importance of traditional foods varieties and their nutritional value to encourage their incorporation into modern lifestyles.
The theme of the dinner was “Sharing authenticity: Uniqueness and Wholeness of Traditional Food.”
Most of the recipes used, the First Lady said, were acquired during her countrywide traditional meal cookout competitions where she took notes on how the provinces prepared their traditional dishes.
For welcome drinks, guests were given freshly squeezed juices from local fruits that included watermelon and usika juice.
Nibbles on the tables comprised madumbe fritters and a variety of roasted seeds and nuts.
The main course starches included millet sadza, gorosi sadza, traditional rice with peanut butter and sorghum sadza.
Guests were also served roadrunner stew, goat head, beef bones mixed with tsunga, mazondo and different types of dried vegetables among other dishes.
Most of the food was from the First Family’s farm.
So rich were the traditional dishes that they included desert like Amai’s Zviyo Chocolate cake, cupcakes and magwinya.
Amai Mnangagwa gave her husband a bouquet of flowers and presented a speech which touched on family unity and the need for children countrywide to shun harmful practices which affected their life.
“Happy birthday to the man I fell in love with many years ago. I shall love you more and more as each year passes by. Happy birthday to you my best friend we have an amazing life together.
“I remember everything in my life started with you and that everything in my life ends on your name. Your birthday marks yet another cause for celebration for me, our family, you and the entire nation.
“We thank the Lord Almighty for his mercies and adding yet another year to your life. May god bless you with money and energy to bear my expenses,” she said to applause.
“As you turn 79 years today you are too energetic with a brisk walk of a young man. This is despite that your life has not been a bed of roses since your teenage years when you joined the liberation struggle at a tender age.
“During the liberation struggle the Lord was your faithful guide, your protector who has helped you overcome the multiplicity of challenges. I am very grateful to the Almighty for adding another year to your life as I reflect on your past experiences I take pride and comfort in all you have achieved.
“I rest in the comfort of our marriage vows which declare that what is yours is mine and what is mine is yours,” she said.
Amai Mnangagwa described the President as a good father and a role model, imploring the younger generation to take a leaf from his life.
“You are a good father, counsellor and role model not only to us your immediate family, but to the entire nation at large. I will never regret having you as my husband. You are exceptional to me, my inspiration and pillar of strength.
“We have all learnt from your experiences that hard work, humility, patience and persistence pay. Though we are living in very difficult times where the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed millions of lives and over 4 000 Zimbabweans we are forever grateful for the gift of life God has given you.
“Indeed it is God’s doing that has taken you this far. Our youths form the bedrock of the nation, the present and future of Zimbabwe. They therefore need our support and encouragement.
“We have a responsibility to discourage them from destroying their future by discouraging drugs and other harmful activities. It should be the desire of every youth to grow up to be old grandfathers and grandmothers,” she said.
To achieve this, the First Lady said youths must embrace the spirit of hunhu/Ubuntu as well as eating traditional food which is healthy.
“You must listen to the mentorship you get from elders, respect them and desist from early marriages, drug abuse. The man whose birthday we are celebrating today is a principled visionary leader and as youth you must take a leaf from his life,” said the First Lady.
She further encouraged women to be support pillars of their husbands and create friendly home environments.
She said, “Your husbands have greater potential and huge responsibilities which require strong support from us.”
The mother of the nation implored the church to play a leading role in guiding the youth and moulding them into morally upright citizens.
“The church should play its part in teaching our children good morals that will help all of them to enjoy good and better lives. The Bible in Proverbs 22 verse 6 says train up your child in the way he should and when he is old he will not depart from it,” she said.
In his speech, the President went down memory lane and praised the First Lady for organising and hosting the party.
He said that the traditional dishes were not only for the birthday, but was their everyday life at home.
The President said he is treated by his wife of 38 years to traditional cuisine at home.
“I met my wife Auxillia 38 years ago and up to date, we are together. At our home you won’t find cutlery at the table, we eat using our hands. My mother who gave birth to me is the one who taught my wife to stick to traditional cuisine,” he said.
He also paid tribute to her life-changing philanthropic works around the country.
Social commentator, Mrs Rebecca Chisamba drew laughter with her antics and praised the First Lady for practising what she preaches and said respect was a critical element in building homes.
“What has been done by our mother has struck me. Her teachings that we must do things the African way is real. I saw her kneeling before her husband and thank you for teaching us well Amai.
“At times we will be asking what this is all about, why is it done? Kneeling before your spouse is a sign of respect, showing love and humbling oneself. To give total love. When I saw her with flowers, some thought she would bring whisky. Flowers have a deep message.
“They help express our emotions and things we cannot express. There are some things we cannot do individually because we cant, but flowers complete the message. When his excellency received his followers, he indeed received his message because if the flowers are yours you hear the message. Kneeling is a show of love. Even whites kneel when proposing to their spouses,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Mrs Priscilla Charumbira, wife to Chief’s council president Chief Fortune Charumbira, said the First Lady was putting her words into action saying that she mean what she says by actively doing it herself.
She said as Chiefs wives, they were learning a lot from the First Lady for their benefit of their communities and the nation at large.