First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa is warmly welcomed by elderly women from the San community during the Nhanga/Gota/Ixiba session in Plumtree.

 LUBE DUBE, born and bred in the San community in Makhulela area, Thwayithwayi village under Bulilima district, 120km out of Plumtree town cannot thank God enough. 

 In the 15 years of his existence, he has never been to any big city and neither is he familiar with processed food and tall buildings.

The San in the area say they have been staying in the area since 1993 after they were taken from the “bushes” by a woman they identified only as Mrs Matondo.

Members of this community had no access to modern utilities and saw their first toilets when the First Lady built some for them in 2019.

She also built a modern house at village head Mrs Matjena Ncube’s homestead.

While children of his age elsewhere do their errands in big cities alone, to Lube it is a dream he never thought would come true.

But thanks to First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, he and other children from the same community have been promised a holiday trip to Victoria Falls which will afford them a chance to visit other places beyond his home.

“I had grown accustomed to my home environment alone. Now this is an opportunity for me to learn new things and have a taste of city life and good food. I just cannot wait to savour in the trip. This is the greatest news of my life. We want to thank the First Lady for this opportunity,” he said with happiness written all over his face.

His friend Sicelo Ngwenya could also not hide his joy saying the trip was a life changing one.

The trip to Victoria Falls, is part of the First Lady’s drive to integrate previously marginalised communities with the rest of the country.

When asked by the First Lady what more they wanted her to do for them, the children expressed themselves freely and asked for school materials like stationery and uniforms.

They said they were attending school with tattered clothes which made many to drop out after being laughed at.

Touched by this, the First Lady requested their sizes and type of uniforms for both boys and girls.

“I will personally sew them for you, I have done that before for other school kids who needed uniforms. I personally sew the uniforms for them,” she said.

She also pledged to give them stationery and other learning materials through her Angel of Hope Foundation in a development expected to help ensure they do not pull out of school and pursue their education to the highest level.

For many years, children in this community did not attend school, giving them limited options to escape poverty and fend for themselves.

Yesterday, the First Lady paid the community a visit with her Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme to ensure children grow into morally upright citizens with respect.

First Lady brings joy to San community
Girls ask questions during the nhanga/gota/ixhiba session with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and elderly women in Plumtree.

Children countrywide have generally become naughty and are abusing drugs and alcohol, among many other vices, prompting the First Lady’s intervention.

Covid-19 prevention measures of masking up, washing hands and maintaining social distance were followed during the programme which had various activities for boys and girls.

While girls were in the nhanga with the First Lady and elderly women from the community, boys too were being taught the dos and don’ts by the community elders.

Practical activities for girls included pounding, which they do in a hole called Tolopasi. They dig a hole in the ground for pounding and they pounded sorghum for sadza.

It was served with road runner chicken, madora and fresh vegetables from their nutrition garden.

The nutrition garden which was set up by the First Lady in 2019 is thriving.

Boys were taught how to hunt and slaughter a goat among other duties expected of a man.

“I have come to hear you teaching the children as I also learn how you do things here as elders,” the First Lady said.

She urged the girls to respect their bodies and not engage in sexual activities which exposed them to diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

“Do not rush to engage in sexual activities with boys when the time is not right. This brings many trials and tribulations. Sexual Intercourse is associated with many diseases. Do you know some of the diseases?” she asked.

One of the girls Fanisile Moyo said she knew about HIV and Aids, while the other girl Tjilani Tshuma pointed out sexual-transmitted diseases.

The First Lady further educated them on the diseases.

An ecstatic village head Mrs Ncube first thanked the First Lady for the visit saying; “You are doing a lot for this community Amai. May you be blessed so that the upcoming generations will benefit from your wise counsel.”

Agreeing with the First Lady, Mrs Ncube said it was essential for children to preserve their bodies and health.

“We want you to preserve your bodies and health. Sitting down with you like this teaching you together with the First Lady and other elders, is a sign of love. We want the best from you,” she said.

On personal hygiene, the mother of the nation said it was essential for girls to take a bath before doing anything around the home.

She also taught them on menstrual hygiene. And asked what they use during their menstrual cycles.

The girls said they used cloths and tree leaves because menstrual pads were beyond their reach.

The First Lady promised them hand sewing machines, materials and other necessary resources to make reusable pads.

She said she would send her Angel of Hope Foundation team to teach the girls how to sew.

Amai Mnangagwa values education and has actively supported many disadvantaged children in various schools countrywide including one in Zvimba district, Seke and Chiweshe among many others.

She told them about her Angel of Hope Foundation and how it works with partners in sourcing for resources for onward distribution to the needy.

An elated elderly woman Mrs Simangele Sibanda thanked the First Lady for her kind gesture and implored the children to focus on education.

“When given the school uniforms it’s actually a privilege not a licence that when smart you go after boys. Treasure your education and value what you are being taught here for a brighter future. The First Lady loves you,” she said.

First Lady brings joy to San community
A San elderly man teaches young boys how to use a bow and arrow in Plumtree. — Pictures: John Manzongo.

On the Victoria Falls trip, the First Lady said; “I want to take you for a holiday, who wants to go with me and where do you want to go?” she said.

This was after the children told her that they had never left their home area and did not know street lights.

She promised to take them to Victoria Falls and said she would start the planning now and would fulfil the promise during the next school holiday.

“I want them to see the outside world so that they learn and are inspired so that after school they choose their careers wisely,” she said.

After seperate gota/nhanga/ixhiba sessions, the boys and girls came together and had a combined session where the First Lady addressed them.

She said; “Young girls complained that boys were following them to the water wells asking for love and delay them to go back home while some elderly men were luring them to bed with snacks like jiggies. Kunemi vanangu vakomana madii kumbosiya hanzvadzi dzenyu dzimboita zvechikoro nemiwo moita zvemabook nekuti ndimi madhokotera edu emangwana,” she said.

She also warned older men who were taking advantage of young girls to put an end to that.

First Lady brings joy to San community
San boys and their elders follow proceedings during nhanga/gota/ixiba session with First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa in Plumtree.

The children, both boys and girls complained that there were some teachers who were refusing to teach them saying they did not want to teach children from the San Community.

Amai Mnangagwa said she was hurt and would take the matter to the relevant authorities for redress.

“I want all these children to learn so that they become our future leaders, so that they would be able to fend for themselves and also to look after us in future,” she said.

News of the impending trip torched wild celebrations in the children, who said they cannot wait to see what was in store for them.

All the children who participated and the elderly who taught them were given food hampers and toiletries by the First Lady.

SOURCE: The Herald

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