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MAI MLAMBO: TOWARDS A DEMOCRATIC COMMUNITY

INDIVIDUAL EFFORT – COMMUNITY BENEFIT

Through the re-awakening that has been taking place among the Chinyika community, as well as in neighbouring communities today – extending from 5,000 people in 2006 to up to 300,000 in 2013 – individual effort is being channelled, and realized, in the context of communal benefit. Such practical realization is encouraged to the extent that it does not create selfish egoistic individuals. The unifying force between the individual and the community is the focus on fighting the resurgence of food insecurity and the continued battle against poverty to realize the capacity and strength that the people have in growing enough food and to alleviate poverty.

Such realization has also been enhanced by activities like groupings for meetings, sharing of information, presence of visitors, attention by facilitators and researchers. What has been gratifying to see is the assistance that the government extension officers are rendering with great zeal. Families have been coming to work together and pooling their resources without feeling isolated and "individualistic".

A TRADITIONALLY DEMOCRATIC PROCESS

In order to coordinate these developments the leadership originally drew from the villages' horizontal structures. Through a democratic process in the traditional manner, the chief, headman, counsellors, village development committees, extension services personnel were all involved, consulted and contributed to the selection of the project leadership. The leadership, headed by Mrs Mai Mlambo has clearly outlined its goals and strategy specifically to fight hunger through growing rapoko and in the long run eliminate poverty. They have clearly distanced themselves from the very sensitive partisan politics. They do not align the project farming activities with any political groupings. The committee's main purpose has remained that of building a community consciousness that creates enlightened peoples' actions to fight both mind and material poverty; to thereby decolonize the mind.

THE POLITICAL ROLE OF WOMEN REDEFINED

In the process of putting together the project leadership, the role of a woman has been re-defined. The challenge to take up responsibility has been greatly accepted by the women of the community. This has been evidenced by the number of women who turn out for the project meetings. Indeed, the attending of meetings, the field days involving demonstrations of ploughing, sowing and harvesting, have mostly been led by the Chinyika women.

The influence of the "mother" has been reflected through the number of active youth who are getting involved in the project activities. Mothers have also shown their cooking skills, which are exceptional when it comes to preparing traditional dishes of rapoko/millet "sadza", thick porridge, meat and vegetables. When preparing for large gatherings, the mothers call upon their youth whom they have trained to do the cooking chores, to assist with the heavy tasks of gathering firewood, drawing water and even food preparation itself.

Women's self-expression has manifested itself through drama and singing. The large gatherings provide an opportunity for women to sing and dramatize the social and economic challenges facing the community. Their drama illustrates the problems of irresponsible and lazy fathers and mothers who do not work hard in their fields, and fathers who spend most of their time drinking and neglecting families. They also highlight problems created by diseases like HIV/AIDS. Although men participate in these dramas it cannot be denied that it is usually a women's initiative. Mothers are out to educate both the young and old. Mothers have awoken to take up their traditional role – the home stands because of the mother – “Musha ndimai".

 
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