Tendai Rupapa in Mashonaland Central
BOYS and girls of various age groups in Mashonaland Central Province have come out in full support of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Dzidziso yaAmai munhanga/mugota/ixhiba yevachiri kuyaruka programme saying it will help them grow into morally upright and dignified citizens.
The First Lady recently rolled out the programme to restore morality in youths who have hogged the limelight for drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and early marriages among other ills.
The programme taps from the country’s traditional way of life which had inbuilt mechanisms to address challenges affecting youths.
Sadly, this has been affected by many factors that include urbanisation.
Shelly Biati (16) said the First Lady had struck the right chord as most young people were facing many challenges owing to modernisation.
“I want to thank the First Lady for the educative programme she introduced to us young people. Today we were taught so many things. What I grasped is that as girls we must preserve ourselves to have dignity even in the villages in which we stay. We should not “play” with boys at all until the time is right. When a boy is after me, I must liken him to a lion and run away because he may affect my studies and I might fall pregnant,” she said.
“When I entertain boys and engage in sexual activities, this will affect my studies and if I fall pregnant, I will leave my education midway and will be left with nowhere to go as my parents might also disown me because I would have shamed and disappointed them in the village. I want to thank the First Lady and ana gogo for the teachings. When my grandmother used to teach me I would say she was of an older generation who did not understand today’s life. I thought if I fell pregnant I would just run away to South Africa and start a new life there. I now appreciate that such teachings impart in us life skills and enable us to lead healthy and prosperous lives. I have also learnt many household chores like pounding which I could not do before. Even when my grandmother used to teach me about those things I would frown upon her since there were hammer mills.”
Shelly said she would go back to her community and share with others what she learned on the benefits of good behaviour.
Equally ecstatic was Miriam Tsongori, an Upper Sixth learner who said the First Lady’s programme was beneficial adding that she was going to be a good ambassador.
“I am thankful for the programme that has been brought by the First Lady emphasising the need for us to treasure ourselves and value our studies. We should not fall in love with boys before the time is ripe because this affects our studies. I am happy for her words to preserve our virginity because this pleases where we are going (future in-laws) and where we come from (parents). I thank her for teaching us traditional values and taking energy giving traditional foods,” she said.
Cases of juvenile delinquency are on the increase countrywide with media awash with reports of youths falling into drug abuse, sexual immorality and not respecting elders.
Speaking on the sidelines of the teachings, Winfrey Nhemachena (15), said First Lady’s teachings laid the foundation for a brighter future.
“I have learnt that according to Korekore tradition, a married woman or a girl must not hold hands with a man who is not their husband. We were also taught about our Shona cultural values. We used to rush and embrace boys thinking this was the norm in the new generation. My friends used to move around with the boys saying it was the in-thing, but today I have learnt something very different and important,” she said.
Winfrey said she had never been educated on menstrual hygiene such that she always had arguments with her brothers who questioned her about throwing used sanitary wear around the yard. She promised to change following the First Lady’s teachings.
On the boys’ side, Kudakwashe Chakanyuka of Chifamba High School described the First Lady’s programme as educative.
“I heard that if you are a boy and have never passed through a dare you will be considered a young boy. This is where we are taught how to greet elders. When arriving there you do not just sit, but first greet elders who will then offer you a seat. We were told not to rush into love relationships to ensure we do not ruin our lives and those of girls. If you impregnate someone, you affect her and the unborn child. If elders are talking you must pay heed. Because of urbanisation we are living apart with our elders and we thank the First Lady for remembering us the youths,” he said.
Sydney Ganyani (20), a student at St Philips High School, said yesterday’s programme made him understand how Western culture had affected Zimbabweans including the way they eat and dress.
“I thank the First Lady for remembering us. We have been profaned by western cultures. Food that was consumed in days of old made them live longer. Even our dressing of loose hanging trousers are frowned upon by our culture,” he said.
Chief Clemence Nembire praised the First Lady for the good works she is doing countrywide.
“You are doing a good job by moving forward with the work on cultural norms. We will never retreat as chiefs, we will never leave you and we will continue moving together. This job you are doing is important and we will push it forward. We thank you endlessly for what you are doing,” he said.
The chief sent people into stitches when he told the gathering that when he offered his condolences to his nephew following the passing on of his father-in-law, he replied: “Inotambika.” Slang for it happens.
The chief shuddered to think whether that was acceptable language.
The chief counselled moral rectitude and warned elderly man against marrying young children whom he described as “quarter chickens and baby chickens”.
“We do not want such behaviour. We want dignified behaviour. Also young boys these days they are so disrespectful such that you hear them greeting elders saying “Sei sei mudhara” honestly this is uncalled for and we are happy that Amai you are rectifying this through your programme,” he said.
In the Nhanga where the girls were imparted with advice and taught various chores was the First Lady, Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Monica Mavhunga, Permanent Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Thumisang Tabela, chief’s wives and elderly women from the community.
The girls were taught household chores, menstrual hygiene and to treasure themselves among other teachings.
In the Gota was Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe, chiefs and elderly men from the community.
Boys were taught how to handle tasks expected of men like roofing a house, slaughtering a goat, cutting firewood and issues to do with family.
The First Lady said: “Girls I am happy you are here today to be taught by the elderly while you also ask questions so that you understand. Do you know that you are important and your bodies are the temple of Christ? Hapana chemahara pamuviri wako mwanasikana naizvozvo zvikoshese. So today from the teachings, I want you to appreciate why you are important,” she said.
One elderly woman who was part of the proceedings said: “Keep your virginity because this will please your parents who will be given a beast (Chimanda) in honour. Even where you will go you will be treated with respect. In the olden days we never allowed boys near us,” she said.
“If you do not preserve yourself, your mother will be given a torn cloth from her in-laws and will you not be ashamed for embarrassing your parents? Time will come do not rush to do things that are not of your age. Sex can bring many things like diseases and pregnancy.
The First Lady implored the children to remain dignified.
“Now that we are teaching you in the Nhanga, this is not a licence to rush into marriage. We teach you these things so that you treasure your bodies, dignity and education. The world tomorrow needs educated people and we want you to become doctors and pilots. Most parents today are hypertensive because of what some youths of today are doing. The life skills as discussed in the Nhanga and Gota shape your lives,” she said.
Minister Mavhunga weighed in saying young children must abstain from sexual activities.
“Abstinence is key. Preserve your virginity and do not mix sex with education because if you do so your future will be ruined,” said Minister Mavhunga.
Most of the girls confirmed they were in love with their education but were tired of elderly men who were seeking romantic affairs with them.
Amai Mnangagwa urged them to turn their backs against them and learn to say “No”.
She further urged them to guard against men who want horseplay saying this sometimes leads to rape.
Issues around dressing, personal and menstrual hygiene were topical during the discussion.
After theoretical lessons on household chores, the girls and boys were taken for practical lessons where girls cooked pumpkin leaves the traditional way using ashes, road runner chicken, mufushwa and sadza while the boys skinned a goat and cut firewood among other chores.
In her remarks which dwelt largely on dignity, cultural values, respect and healthy eating, the First Lady said she yearned to teach young people dignity because the future of the country lay in their hands.
“We are trying to revive our morals which were being forgotten because of Westernisation which had diluted our culture resulting in loss of morals and dignity. Both boys and girls are taking intoxicating substances. Social media is also leading people astray because hidden things are being exposed even to youngsters hence the need to revert to the nhanga and gota.
“Children are rushing to have sex, which causes diseases and affects the life of the Girl Child,” she said to applause.
Amai Mnangagwa implored parents to help in moulding youths that can be emulated by many saying education and Ubuntu go hand in hand.
The First Lady also warned that Covid-19 was far from over and implored people to pay heed to the preventative measures of masking up, sanitising and observing social distancing.
She urged people to embrace the vaccination programme which has been affected by some people who are misinforming the public.
Children who participated in yesterday’s programme were given food hampers and school bags, thanks to the First Lady.
Chiefs’ wives who helped in teaching the children were given food hampers, maize seed and pesticide used for grain storage.
Chiefs were given fertiliser and sugar bean seed.