Vice President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday attended First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s educative Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba programme at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and concurred with her that children must value education and concentrate on their studies to avoid being a burden to their families and society in future.
The Vice President, who fully supports Amai Mnangagwa’s programme to promote morals among youths, was welcomed by the mother of the nation to her stand where he remarked that the programme was critical for the country.
He attended the Gota session for boys alongside Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Fredrick Shava and other elderly men from the community while the First Lady attended the Nhanga session with the girls and other women.
Talking to the boys, the Vice President said it was wrong for children to rush into marriage before they were capable of sustaining themselves.
“If you marry at a tender age, you have no job, you have no house, you don’t even have a goat or a chicken, what are you going to do? Who will take care of your offspring? You become a burden to your family and the society at large. First make your life and be what you want to be. Once you are satisfied then you can now go through the process of marriage,” he said.
He said it was critical for children to always seek to be morally upright citizens and go to school to sharpen their minds.
“The first thing is to find a good character whom you can follow because learning is by seeing. They will tell you that this you can do, this you can’t do. As you grow up, you start now to go to school to sharpen your minds. This is the place you are going to meet with different people from different backgrounds. But you are going to school with an aim of being somebody in future, so your concentration should be on your books. The First Lady is giving you this chance to be counselled so that you can mould yourself. Don’t follow the bad character but follow the good character,” he said.
Children, the Vice President said, must never agree to be used by anyone to do bad things.
He said during his youthful days, some naughty boys would roll the leaves of the mutsvubvu fruit tree to smoke while herding cattle instead of learning to start a fire.
He urged the boys not to follow those who do bad things.
The First Lady is leading from the front in efforts to promote good manners among children.
This comes at a time when today’s youths are ruining their lives through drug and alcohol abuse. The country is also facing a surge in teen pregnancies, child prostitution and general disrespect among youths largely due to western influences.
Addressing the girls and women in the Nhanga, the First Lady said, “I have come so that we discuss and teach our children as they also highlight their challenges. Is our daughter preserving herself? Is she valuing her education? The country wants morally upright children who treasure their education. Our daughters are being impregnated at tender ages by boys who have nothing and they deny paternity.
“Parents are becoming hypertensive because of the behaviour of our children. Let us put our heads together madzimai and find a lasting solution so that we create a brighter future for our children. These children are putting on skimpy apparel and walking in the nude. Grandmothers, lets impart knowledge in our children,” she said.
Gogo Kholiswa Mpofu said the children must count themselves lucky to have been paid a visit by the First Lady.
“My children you are very lucky to have been visited by the First Lady who has come with teachings to mould you. We agree with Amai because mischief is high among youths and you have gone wayward. You have become disrespectful to your mothers and answer back rudely. You are seeing yourselves as mothers who know much more than us your elders. You no longer fear playing and sleeping with boys at a tender age, it is our wish that you become good mothers in the future.
“During our time we would run away from boys, but you, you actually rush to them and fall pregnant burdening your parents with children of various totems. Our grey hair shows we have seen a lot so please listen to what we teach you, it is for your own good. Our mother’s visit here shows her love for you because you have been given teachings which however, do not mean that you should run to get married. We are preparing you for the future,” she said.
The teachings come at a time when children were rushing to get married before maturing, resulting in a surge in divorce cases.
Gogo Siphile Sibanda said girls must never allow boys to fondle them.
“Refuse to be fondled because this is where it all begins. Preserve yourselves. We want you to reach marriage stage as virgins. Won’t you be pleased to see your mother being paid a beast as a token of appreciation for preserving your virginity?
“Be proud of your virginity so that you enter your marriage clean. You allow to be fondled like avocado pears on the market place. The first Lady said your dressing is now bad and that is true because you are embarrassing us as your mothers. You put on a mini skirt and sits open-legged while in the same room with men. We want to build a good Zimbabwe and a good country is built buy people,” she said.
Hammering on the same issue, Gogo Evah Bitu said most children had lost focus and were now party animals.
“You girls are now always at Vuzu parties where you drink recklessly and end up sleeping with boys and you do not know the person who would have impregnated you because you will be drunk. The law under which one can be arrested for beating up a child is difficult for us because we were whipped during our days and that is why we have manners,” she said.
In response, Amai Mnangagwa said children must ignore vuzu parties and concentrate on their education so they can enjoy a brighter future.
“We heard about vuzu parties and why do you go there vanangu? When intoxicated, these boys will sleep with you without protection. What about sexually transmitted diseases? Say no to peer pressure,” she said.
One of the girls Patience Sithole admitted that peer pressure was ruinous as she saw her performance in school declining because of yielding to the need to please friends.
“I am one of those who engaged in mischief with my friends. I was good in school but my grades started falling due to peer pressure until my teachers spoke to me and opened my eyes. I listened and chose the right path. I cut ties with the bad friends and pursued my education, now I am in form 6. None among my friends wrote O-level after they fell pregnant. My advice to the other girls countrywide, choose friends that challenge you in good ways. Peer pressure starts with envying someone’s hairstyle, a new blazer or uniform. Your parents will not be affording this and you look for a blesser who then ruins your life. Be content with what you are getting at home. What you can do as a child is to work hard in school and have a better life to buy all you need. Education is the most important thing in life so that you look after your parents,” she said.
The First Lady was charmed by the girl’s testimony and encouraged her to continue imparting the wisdom to her peers in school adding that It was her wish for schools to set up girls time sessions where the girls would be teaching each other.
Another girl blamed parents for the mischief in today’s youths saying they no longer have time for their children prioritising their phones.
“Parents spend time at work and come home tired and they will be on their phones and we shudder to know who teaches us. Sometimes parents push us to do things we would not have wanted to do,” she said.
Sekuru Peter Taruvinga, who was among the elders with boys said the First Lady’s programme could not have come at any better time as children of nowadays had become wayward.
He said some of the children did not take kindly to be counselled by strangers whom they told off or threatened with unspecified action.
He applauded Amai Mnangagwa for coming up with the programme saying it helped show the children what was obtained in the olden days compared to their lives nowadays which compromised on morality.
After the separate sessions, the boys and girls later came together to be addressed by the First Lady who said the Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba concept has been there since time immemorial and helped people grow up morally upright and focused.
“This is what we grew up doing and we managed to preserve our morals in a way that glorified where we came from. I hope children have learnt and they will treasure these teachings for their future. From what we heard from the children, we saw that parents no longer have time with their children. Both mothers and fathers are expending time on Whatsapp to a point where a dog can enter the house and eat the whole stewpot while they are on social media. The child will end up also spending time on social media and adopt foreign culture which is different from our African culture,” she said.
The mother of the nation invited a representative from the girls and boys to summarise what they had learnt bringing out the qualities of a model girl child and model male child they want.
Patience Sithole represented the girls while Muziwandile Dube presented on behalf of the boys.
The First Lady made the children ambassadors for her programme and presented them with certificates.
They were also given school bags, stationery and food hampers.
The elderly also received food hampers.
As part of their practical lessons, girls were taken through lessons in baking, cooking, sewing, beading and making plastic mats.
Boys too were taught household chores expected of them.
The girls later served the First Lady and the elderly the traditional food they prepared during the practical lessons.