Hive of activity as First Lady engages Mutoko community
Tendai Rupapa in MUTOKO
CHIEF MUTOKO’s homestead was a hive of activity yesterday, thanks to First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa who honoured an invitation to take her educative and interactive Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme to Mutoko as she leads the fight against drug abuse, teen pregnancies, child marriages and lawlessness among youths.
The Buja culture was shown in its rightful colours as the First Lady also followed the culture when she arrived at the chief’s court where Chief Mutoko and other chiefs were seated.
She sat on a mat together with other elderly women and through a representative, gave Chief Mutoko water from a clay pot using a gourd.
When the chief drank the water which he also shared with other chiefs, he sent back a token to the First Lady as a sign of welcoming the mother of the nation.
Amai Mnangagwa knelt and greeted the chiefs with her head tilted while the elderly women ululated, whereupon she was notified that she was free to proceed with her programme.
At the chief’s homestead, there is both modernity and a traditional set up.
There is a nicely built nhanga, gota, the chief’s court, sikamunhu (bedroom for parents), kitchen hut and hozi (granary hut) with various compartments to store different grains.
All the huts are thatched and built using pole and dagga and the floors are cleaned the traditional way using cow dung.
The sikamunhu hut is adorned with a sleeping mat made of bark strings, a pillow made of trees, a knobkerrie, axe, spear, bow and arrow.
These traditional weapons are used for quick reaction even in the event that commotion is heard in the kraal and the man of the house dashes out to investigate while armed.
There are several headmen under Chief Mutoko and all of them had a fireplace at the chief’s homestead where women and girls from their areas of jurisdiction prepared various traditional dishes.
Girls were taught to prepare the dishes by elderly women as their practical lessons.
They were also taught to grind peanut butter on stone and pounding sorghum.
Food prepared by the girls included rupiza, butya (grated fresh maize on leaves), kanjamu (a type of green vegetables), road runner, maheu, rice in peanut butter, goat meat, pumpkins, maize, groundnuts, manyungu, dried vegetables in peanut butter and matukutu buns.
Boys in the gota were also taught various chores expected of them by chiefs and elderly men from the community.
They were taught to slaughter a goat and prepared the meat for cooking, tightening a drum skin on fire and hunting, among other various activities.
The First Lady went around the fireplaces seeing the various dishes that were prepared and being told how they were prepared since most of them were unique.
She entered the granary where the girls showed her how they stored their crops after harvesting that include millet and sorghum.
The mother of the nation entered the kitchen hut which was adorned with traditional utensils.
She was shown how meat is dried in their Buja culture.
On the fireplace, there is a moulding that is constructed and meat is placed there to ensure fire dries the meat.
She was shown Muremberembe tree barks that are used as a torch to provide light in the kitchen or outside the huts.
After tour of the homestead, Amai Mnangagwa was joined in the Nhanga by chiefs’ wives, Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Aplonia Munzverengwi and other elderly women from the community.
During the discussions, people were preparing groundnuts for drying and shelling them.
Said the First Lady: “A child belongs to the community. Kana mwana azvarwa ave mwana wemunhu wese. What has brought me here is that boys and girls have lost morals. As parents we are embarrassed.
“I visited all parts of the country with chiefs’ wives assessing how we can talk to our children. The way today’s children are behaving in cities and rural communities is now the same, there is too much mischief.
“We have come here so that as grandmothers you teach these children in line with your culture. Vanangu, we want your morals and education to combine so that we come up with a son and daughter that we want in the family, society and the whole country. My children, I urge you to listen to the teachings we have brought here because we want to build you and give you a perfect image. Tinoda kuti mukoshese dzidzo yenyu moregera kumhanyira into sexual relationships.”
Gogo Dorothy Kamuche said children of nowadays had become too experimental and this often saw them falling pregnant.
“We were in a tough situation here Amai of looking after grandchildren with different totems because their mothers are promiscuous,” she said. “We thank you for your vision and coming up with this programme. Your programme is moulding our families, uniting the nation and helping correct the children.”
The First Lady asked the girls how they performed their daily chores.
Some said they first sweep the yard, light the fire and warm water for bathing while cleaning the dishes. After bathing, they prepare meals and go to school.
Those who are no longer in school said after completing the household tasks, they then help their parents in the fields.
However, Amai Mnangagwa urged them to clean the dishes after eating because if kept overnight, the dishes attract flies which will lead to diseases.
She also asked what they wanted to be when they grow up and the children said they wanted to become doctors, teachers, pilots, policewomen and lawyers.
In response, the First Lady implored the children to take their education seriously to realise their dreams.
Gogo Irene Rutsito decried that the children of nowadays had become stubborn.
“Our children have become stubborn,” she said. “If you assign them to fetch water, they will say you were waiting for me to fetch water for you after school. If you tell her to sweep the house, she runs away to meet boyfriends.
“The way they answer shows we are now equal and the child is now familiar with men. We believe that now that you have spoken to the children, they will change.”
The wife to Chief Seke, Mrs Naume Chimanikire, educated the girls on menstrual hygiene.
The elderly women immediately selected Gogo Kamuche who will be teaching the girls from the community every Friday at the chief’s homestead so that the First Lady’s programme is carried forward.
In her address to the community, the First Lady implored both boys and girls to have good morals and focus on their education.
“I have come here today saying to the elderly, this is our family and we look up to these children,” she said. “We want them to lead lives that give them a bright future. We want to be known as Zimbabweans who have a good reputation and good morals.
“We want our children to grow up morally upright. Here in Mutoko I have also learnt a lot. This shows that education has no end. I have learnt even the way you store crops here after harvesting.”
Amai Mnangagwa said the way children of nowadays were dressing and answering elders showed they were missing lessons they ought to be taken through.
“Girls are no longer dressing in a dignified manner and they no longer treasure their virginity. In the Nhanga today we taught the girls that women run homes and this demands for well-behaved women who are role models. As parents, if a neighbour teaches or counsels your child, do not take offence because a child belongs to the community.
“Looking at health, we are seeing that those who fall pregnant at a tender age are susceptible to many diseases and we must urge our children to abstain from sexual activities before the time is ripe. I have come as a mother so that we teach and counsel our children so that they understand our culture and return to the correct path,” she said to applause.
Headman Nyamukapa, Mr Edward Muzengeza, who was also in the Gota teaching boys said he was grateful for the programme which he said was helping train children who had become wayward.
“This programme is teaching our children and we are seeing change in this country,” he said. “These days our children are taking drugs and alcohol. Some of them have lost respect for elders, but we are seeing that they are embracing this programme and are now listening to advice.
“I am happy for this transformation and wish the First Lady to continue planning such good things for us as a nation.”
Headman Nyamukapa said while in the Gota, the children were free to ask questions.
“We taught them the need to respect parents and use their hands,” he said. “Good people copy good things and leave the bad. We warned them against child marriages because they may not be able to withstand the pressure that comes with marriage.”
The wife to Chief Mutoko, Mrs Elister Mbudzi, said she was happy the First Lady had honoured an invitation to bring her educative programme to Mutoko.
“We are glad as people of all age groups to welcome the First Lady who has brought something we had not seen in a lifetime,” she said. “Our children were misbehaving, having unwanted pregnancies, stealing and taking drugs. Some girls were frequenting bars where they met over 10 men in a single day.
“The First Lady unveiled a programme which makes our children live well in the homes. Unlike in the past, we now can assign our children duties. This programme has helped us greatly here in Mutoko.
“We invited the First Lady for her to see that we are carrying forward her programme and also see how we do it the Buja way. We are glad that she sat down with our children and counselled them. We want the programme to continue and every homestead to impart the children with the knowledge.
“We have a Gota and Nhanga at this homestead where we will be meeting these children and teaching them every Friday. We want our children to grow into responsible citizens.”
Mashonaland East Provincial Chiefs Assembly chairperson, Chief Nechombo, praised the First Lady for the work that she is doing countrywide, including promoting the respect for Zimbabwean culture.
“I am grateful for the wonderful works that are being done by Amai,” he said. “As chiefs we are thankful for these works because she is helping us correct and preserve our culture. As you can see here, there is a Nhanga and Gota which is essential in teaching morals to girls and boys.
“She is sharpening and correcting these children so that we end early child marriages. If we preserve our girls and boys, our nation will succeed. I thank her for the splendid work that she is doing in the country which fosters unity. Good morals help us unite as communities and the nation at large.”
Children who participated in the Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba Programme were given school stationery, while Chiefs and the elderly were given food hampers, toiletries and blankets.