HARARE’s oldest high-density suburb, Mbare, yesterday hosted First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s all-inclusive “Dzidziso yaAmai mu Nhanga/Gota/Ixiba yevachirikuyaruka” programme, which seeks to promote good morals and fight vices affecting today’s youths.
The urban community invited the First Lady after observing and in appreciation of the educative initiative she recently introduced.
Yesterday, Amai Mnangagwa teamed up with the elderly women from Mbare and Mrs Priscilla Charumbira, the wife to Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira, among other women as she leads from the front in seeking solutions to wayward behaviour prevalent in today’s youths.
Amai Mnangagwa’s intervention comes at a time when there are reports of youths performing lewd acts, which are frowned upon in Zimbabwean culture.
Recently, a 13-year-old Harare boy was in the news after he allegedly hired a sex worker from a dating website.
Most youths of today are treading on the immoral paths as a result of Western cultural influences they get from television and the internet, which makes them view the local culture as backward.
Their dressing has also raised questions, resulting in the First Lady advocating a return to the traditional way of life, which had in-built mechanisms to foster morality and mould responsible citizens.
Yesterday’s proceedings were held at Chirodzo Primary School where there is a “cultural village” equipped with traditional utensils and the First Lady taught the children about the uses of the utensils and traditional foods.
Amai Mnangagwa and the elderly women taught the girls how to slaughter a chicken, cooking, pounding and using a grinding stone.
The girls cooked sadza rezviyo, remhunga, madora, road runner chickens and dried vegetables before presenting the dishes to their ‘teachers’ who then corrected them.
In the Gota, the boys were taught by the acting Mayor Councillor Stewart Mutizwa and elderly men from the community.
They were taught how to slaughter a goat and other tasks performed at home by men.
Mr Mutizwa thanked the First Lady for the programme saying he expected some changes in the behaviour of youths.
Gogo Virginia Manyarara of Mbare expressed delight at the First Lady’s intervention, saying children in her area had lost morals.
“We thank you for coming to help mould our children, especially here in Mbare where they have lost morals,” said Gogo Manyarara.
“They do not even know how to greet elders and perform household chores.
“Please Amai, help us make these children morally upright. Some women in our communities also do not take kindly to their children being counselled by others something that should be looked at.
“This kind of behaviour by parents promotes immorality in children.”
The words were reinforced by Gogo Stella Gwatidzo who said both girls and boys were taking intoxicating substances especially in urban areas.
“Both boys and girls are taking intoxicating substances like mutoriro and musombodia,” she said.“Why are you doing that? Why not pursue your education nhai vazukuru, get married and make your parents happy? Why take drugs?”
Gogo Petronella Kwedzva said it was critical for girls to value their bodies.
“My grandchildren, I encourage you to value your bodies. Do not rush to do things that are not of your age and in the process make yourself cheap,” said Gogo Kwedzva.
“This sex you rush for is not love but a way of being made cheap.
“This is where you contract diseases and fall pregnant before your age is ripe and the boy will run away from you.
“As girls, treat yourselves as vessels of honour. Some are having boyfriends at the age of 13, what for?,” she asked.
Gogo Kwedzva asked the children if they knew a beast called “Mombe yechimanda” which she said was a cow offered to the parents of a woman who remained pure until marriage.
One of the girls asked what she could do in the event that some parents marry her off in exchange for money and the First Lady urged the girls to report to the police such incidents.
She said the country had laws which must be respected.
Mrs Charumbira said it was the First Lady’s wish for the country to revert to the Nhanga and Gota concept to mould morally upright youths.
“Are your manners and values in the right place as a girl? Are you valuing your education and your body? The First Lady is saying let’s go back to our tradition because she herself values her culture,” she said.
Another girl said most girls of her age had lost morals because of “blessers”.
She said as pupils, they came from different families with different financial muscles and the poor ended up seeking the so-called “blessers” to afford nice things.
Women’s bank chief executive Dr Mandas Marikanda offered inspiration to the girls by chronicling her life story.
“To become the chief executive of a bank, I had to concentrate on my studies,” said Dr Marikanda.
“I grew up eating mangai and polishing the floors with cow dung but soldiered on.
“We would take advice from our mothers and the elderly. We came through a lot but I treasured my education and see where I am today. Value your education.
“If you want to go far, the choice of friends is important. Choose friends who mould you.”
The First Lady asked the children if they accept counselling from their elders.
They were honest enough saying they sometimes do not heed advise and scolded those who were not their mothers.
The First Lady underscored the importance of listening to elders adding that giving words of advice was a sign of love.
Menstrual health issues were also part of the discussion.
Gogo Miriam Mandava spoke about traditional foods, how they are prepared and their health benefits.
Amai Mnangagwa urged the elderly women and men who were teaching the children to a form committee which would work with her office in spearheading the programme in communities.
In her remarks, the First Lady said she was gratified that the people of Mbare had invited her after seeing the Nhanga, Gota, Ixiba programme she recently rolled out.
“After you saw the Nhanga,Gota, Ixiba programme you invited me to come with this programme in urban areas,” said the First Lady.
“This is the reason that has brought me here today as I proceed with this educative programme for those growing up.
“I have also seen it befitting that children in urban areas should not be left out.
“In our culture we know that a child is not only brought up by his or her biological parents, but the whole community.
“Therefore, I have come because these are all our children. Let us assist each other in counselling and moulding children.
“As parents let’s not take offence when a neighbour offers to counsel our child because in the end it is our child who benefits.
“Today both girls and boys have learnt household chores. A child must help with tasks around the home and not leave everything to mothers.
“Grandfathers and grandmothers in the communities, you are the custodians of our culture and you should find time to teach your grandchildren in the communities so that they have knowledge of our way of life.
“Let these teachings not be for today only. I look forward to be invited by you as Harare province showing me change that would have come through these teachings.”
The children were given school bags, food hampers and toiletries, while the men and women who taught the children also received food hampers courtesy of the First Lady.
Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Marian Chombo and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Thokozile Chitepo, also attended the event alongside other dignitaries.