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Opinion / Columnist

Let's banish the urban-rural chasm

20 Mar 2021 at 07:17hrs | Views
Devolution now steadily but surely underway in our country, with provincial ministers of state also tasked with implementation of the new beginning, must sooner rather than later see rural areas where most Zimbabweans live, transcending their colonial Rhodesian pejorative periphery or Cinderella status.

As things stand today in a post-independence and post-modern Zimbabwe, it is no exaggeration to state here that the wide, and in some cases widening gap in the economic, social and technological lives of urban and rural dwellers in our country unfortunately does persuade a sad commentary on the liberation struggle in which precious lives of gallant sons and daughters of the soil were sacrificed to free the motherland from the racist clutches of British colonialism.

Which is why, in this commumicologist's humble opinion, devolution as repeatedly promoted in the columns of this paper should not merely remain live on the lips of those thrust into power by the masses to gain political mileage in order to remain in the citadels of power for their own sake while the masses in their various rural constituencies wallow in poverty to the extent that some, if not many in the political opposition start to wish and even support publicly or nicodemously illegal regime change for the return of Western imperialism to this mineral-rich nation.

For instance, why should some road networks which are supposed to play an important role in the economic lives of villagers continue to resemble bush tracks suitable only for oxen sledges used by villagers to move goods with ox-drawn carts unable to navigate some of the roads four decades after independence in 1980?

Secondly, sources of drinking water for some villagers as well as for their livestock remain distant or polluted and as a result not safe for human consumption – in which case boreholes must be sunk in areas of greater need for rural folk to access clean water for domestic use.

The continuing Covid-19 pandemic has exposed devastating effects of underdevelopment in education which has left a number of students in rural schools in virtual obscurity as their urban counterparts benefited from radio broadcast lessons and continue to excel in their education through online lessons.

A large number of Grade Seven pupils in rural areas reportedly failed their final exams last year due to inadequate preparations caused by a lack of modern educational facilities in their schools a rude wakening for the authorities to intervene with speed in order to equalise learning opportunities for all Zimbabweans to equip them with knowledge and skills as future leaders of our country.

Colonialists kept blacks downtrodden for fear of opposition to their rule and so a government of the people by the people who freed us all from racist colonial oppression has on its hands a gargantuan task of transforming educational facilities in rural areas to be at par with those existing in the white man's former citadels of power, the urban areas.

Illegal Western sanctions have been, and remain, an aggravation of the various challenges that our nation faces today. However, to use the satanic foreign economic embargo as an excuse by anyone in our country for not going the whole hog in efforts to improve the lives of all of our people would be like hiding behind our fingers – a lame excuse for failure.

The good thing, however, is that efforts by the incumbent Zanu-PF government of President Mnangagwa in seeking financial and other material assistance from friendly foreign nations needed to improve things in various parts of our country must not only be applauded verbally but supported by all patriots to give our beloved country a proud facelift in the global village.

The foreign assistance in point in this discourse should, in fact, act as a catalyst, and at most a challenge for Zimbabweans everywhere in the diaspora to make a beeline with the forex they earn in addition to requisite materials for a speedy revamp of various aspects of life, especially in rural areas where the umbilical cords of those workers and of political leaders we see swaying their swollen bellies in urban areas remain buried.

That the diasporans responded swifty to calls for help for people whose properties were destroyed by floods caused by Cyclone Idai in Manicaland in 2019, is ample proof that the Zimbabweans working abroad will also come in handy to improve things in their native country if approached.

In fact, political leaders thrust into power by voters in the countryside must pay back by helping to transform their constituencies there so that our people from urban areas and ironically from the villages are spared the ignominy of having to cross borders to neighbouring countries, as they do today, to buy food and other items but all of which can be produced locally if people put their hands and heads together.

Finally and excitingly, three community radio stations were recently issued with licences to serve the Beitbridge-Shashe; Chiredzi rural communities which covers Chikombedzi, Chiredzi, Rutenga, Mahenye and Malipati; and the third to Lyeja-Nyayi Development Trust to cover Hwange and Victoria Falls.

These stations are important as they will provide developmental and other relevant information from our own Government to our people, while insulating the populations served by the radio stations from whatever negative propaganda is purveyed against Zimbabwe by foreign radio stations.

Of equal significance, journalists recruited to man the stations should help in the excavation and revival of utilitarian Zimbabwean cultural norms trampled underfoot by erstwhile white, racist Rhodesian rulers and promote them widely through the broadcast media they run and in that way make our ubuntu/hunhu stand up proudly on its feet again.

This country's towns were turned by whites who set them up into "graveyards" of our African culture, according to Mr Phathisa Nyathi, a culture expert and writer. He said journalists recruited to man those three community radio stations, and others that may be introduced elsewhere, must disabuse themselves of any superiority complex over our African customs and traditions by regarding them as inferior, but must instead embrace and promote them for the revival of our true image as Africans.

Source - chronicle
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