Back to the rural village movement

Urbanisation and change in lifestyle have drawn many away from our rural roots. We rarely visit and sometimes only visit to attend funerals. And in certain instances, we have ascribed negative connotations to this cradle of many Zimbabweans.

MANY of us were born and bred in rural areas where approximately 68% of Zimbabweans reside. Some of us still maintain close ties with family and relatives in rural areas. While we might have prospered as individuals our rural settings, this rich fountain of our cultural heritage and who we are, have benefited little from us.

Urbanisation and change in lifestyle have drawn many away from our rural roots. We rarely visit and sometimes only visit to attend funerals. And in certain instances, we have ascribed negative connotations to this cradle of many Zimbabweans.

There are some among us whose heart strings have been pulled by the crippling social destitution in the rural areas. Others have built beautiful rural homesteads to affirm their roots and formative years. The public spirited among us have been moved to invest time and resources to better the rural places that gave them their foundation.

I recently had the privilege of travelling to Maboleni in Lower Gweru to witness the impactful and inspirational work that Bishop Ngwiza Mnkandla is doing. Bishop Mnkandla, who is mainly based in England, has been working against all odds to change the fortunes of the place where he breathed his first breath.

He built an impressive church, community centre and is working on a big project to renovate Maboleni Primary School. A big classroom is already up and state-of-the-art girls’ and boys’ ablution facilities are nearing completion. A casual tour of the school facilities communicated a desperate reality needing urgent attention. This perhaps is the sad state of many rural schools in the country: broken chairs and desks, and blackboards and chalks being the only technology in sight.

I studied at a rural school in Gwanda up to Grade 4 and the dilapidated surroundings at Maboleni were an embarrassing reminder of what my old school Shake Primary School looks like. I could not escape the guilt pangs. All l have done is donate a few books, desks and chairs.

I got the impression that the 30 or so colleagues from Faith Ministries, Borrowdale Community Church, were challenged by the heart-wrenching condition of the school and hugely moved by what Bishop Mnkandla is doing around the place that nurtured his formative years.

Approximately 80% of Zimbabwe’s rural population lives in poverty. Matabeleland North is the poorest province, with 87,5% of the community considered poor. The biggest problems that the rural areas face are food insecurity and lack of employment opportunities for the youth, who make up approximately 77% of the population.

Education tends to be the gateway out of poverty, sadly this sector is in pathetic shape. Education infrastructure is dilapidated and the quality of learning guarantees poor results in the majority of poorly funded rural schools.

All these problems are exacerbated by poor and aging infrastructure. Old and inefficient transport modes, inadequate water and sanitation, limited capacity to harvest and store water, and irrigate all compound the development challenges in rural areas.

Because the situation is dire, a little effort, resources and money are potentially impactful. Until the government makes rural arears attractive investment destinations those of us who owe what we have become to our rural upbringing can surely chip in and make a change like Bishop Mnkandla is doing. Consortiums from the same village can pool resources to rebuild infrastructure like schools and clinics. Renewable energy projects could power water storage, irrigation and water harvesting. Market gardening projects and reliable retail outlets could help to improve standards of living.

One important thing the government can do is to eliminate the nuisance of local politicians standing in the way of philanthropic and community-initiated developments. The politicians’ big egos and petty officialdom are threatened by people doing the work that the politicians are elected to champion. Most of these ribbon-cutting obsessed politicians demand credit for work they have not initiated or they will sabotage the projects.

The government strategy of revitalising rural areas through growth points has mostly succeeded in attracting bottlestores and nightclubs with all the attendant ills of these facilities. While government is figuring out the next policy, perhaps you and I should make our way back to the rural village to make a difference.

lNB. If you are already working on a project in your rural village, please share the good news with us, including pictures. We will share the details of your projects and hopefully encourage others to join the movement to develop our rural villages. Email me on [email protected]   #RuralVillageMovement

  • Trevor Ncube is the Chairman of Alpha Media Holdings and the host of In Conversation With Trevor

Related Topics