Thanks to COVID we can’t hug cheek to cheek
As we leave the SLF folks of Mozambique
Keep our distance 6 feet away
As we walk to Zimbabwe
Beautiful landscapes we will enjoy
Unique, interesting; they sure won’t annoy
Gonarez hou National Park on the right
Balancing Rock! What a sight
About 14 million people in Zimbabwe
Sixteen languages are official
The capital city and the largest is Harare
Followed by Bulawayo
The name hails from an ancient city
Great Zimbabwe built in the 11th century
Human settlement here at least 100,000 years ago
Arrowheads, cave paintings - Archaeologists said so
Zimbabwe is unusual in Africa in that there are a number of ancient ruined cities built in a unique dry-stone style. Among the most famous of these is the Tower in Great Enclosure, Great Zimbabwe
In the 1880’s, guess who came to town
None other than Cecil Rhodes, man of great renown
An ardent believer in British imperialism - popular belief at that time
Also a politician and British magnate who could mine
Initiated the British South Africa Mining Company (BSAC)
Rhodesia it was later named (1895) in his honour, you see
But names changed over time
To Southern Rhodesia (1898), not a crime
The UK annexed Southern Rhodesia in 1923
Rhodesians of all races served in the UK military
Contributing more per capita in both World Wars I and II
Than any other country, including UK. Who knew?
More name changes did arrive
Rhodesia was the name in 1965
History is filled with wars and complexities
Zimbabwe is no different; lots of duplicities
Zimbabwe declared Independence in 1964
UK called this an act of rebellion and ignored
Guerrilla war subsequently ensued between ZAPU & ZANU
Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)
Supported by communist powers, you see
Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU)
Both were committed to forming one party
To Zimbabwe Rhodesia, in 1979
Federal election held In February, 1980. Fine
Robert Mugabe ZANU had a landslide victory & he became President
And, of course, Nkomo became Vice President
ZANU and ZAPU merged becoming ZANU
Merger not only unique but fostered the transition, too
1980, the United Kingdom granted Zimbabwe independence
Putting the government to the test
Prior to the merger, you might have guessed
There were considerable massacres and political unrest
Lots of legislation transpired
Not all of it desired
Fast Track Land Reform meant
mandatory land acquisition
Take from white minorities.
Give to black majorities -
Such was the distribution
Complicated by droughts and external financial support decreases
Poverty, water shortages and diseases
Nevertheless, - 58,000 independent black farmers have revived the gutted cash crop
The economy collapsed in 2003
11 million people fled the country
75% of those remaining
On $1.00 US a day were living
By 2008, problems reached crisis proportion
Plus living standards and public health
Cholera outbreak further undermined wealth
Humanitarian situation improved by 2009
Still quite precarious; definitely not fine
An open drain in Harare in 2004. By 2008 drains such as this were carrying sewage from burst sewage pipes and faeces & feces washed out of the neighbouring areas as the urban sanitation system collapsed. This contributed to the rapid spread of the cholera outbreak.
Nkomo died of cancer in 2013
Mugabe re-elected in 2013
Many believed Mugabe rigged the election
Mugabe’s team went house to house to give direction
You will vote for Mugabe
Or/and we’ll rape of all the women in your family
And they did so right in front of everyone’s face
In 2016 nationwide protests to place
The economic collapse was a major set back
Corruption, food insecurity, poor sanitation created mishaps
The finance minister said, “Right now we literally have nothing”
All anticipated that population and economic growth would be doubling
But no! That didn’t happen at all
Mugabe’s government responsible
For loss of lives by millions and dollars by billions
The World Food Program notes that starvation
Was spreading across the nation
For these problems who did Mugabe blame
Homosexuals! - Now ain’t that insane?
Zimbabwe wildlife was also at risk
Poaching, deforestation caused the crisis
In 2008, 37million US$ was donated
By the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria
But what happened to the money, no one knows; corruption yeah
In 2017, the army led a “coup d’état”
Mugabe arrested and that was that
A new election took place
Emmerson Mnangagwa, now President, won that race
Progressive initiatives are being put in place
Hope by all is being embraced
The Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
Is growing at a rapid pace. As is Opera! Oh my oh me!
No, not the music! Opera is the ICT internet browser
For a minute I thought it was a cultural wowzer.
The gender-gap is much closer in education
Domestic violence, rape and child marriages still under investigation
The Zimbabwe Women’s Legal Association
Working to help women combat domestic & sexual violence
But human rights always pose challenges
To artists, journalists, and political activists
Speaking of the arts, let’s take a look
Filmmaker, playwright, author Tditsi Dangarembga,
Education secretary of the Movement for Democratic Change
Arrested in 2020. On BBC’s 100 Women list
Winner of the PEN international Award for Freedom of Expression in 2021
Freedom of the press is not in place yet
Maybe in the future, but not placing a bet
Many Zimbabwean authors have acclaimed
Nobel Prize winning author, Doris Lessing,
Maybe you’ve heard her name
Or, perhaps, read her novel The Grass is Singing?
I could list several more authors’ names
But perhaps you’d rather see a game
How about the Zimbabwe National Women’s Football team?
Participation in the Olympics and Commonwealth games - quite a dream
Zimbabwean teams have won 8 metals in the Olympic games
And 11 gold metals in Commonwealth games.
So what would you like to see?
Rugby? Soccer? Kayaking? Field hockey?
Swimming? Tennis? Horse racing? Cricket?
Let me know; I’ll get some tickets
Or, are you wishing for a bite to eat?
Sit down and rest your feet?
We could try some Mealie Meal -
Or Sadza and goat offal
Maybe not so yummy
For your tummy
So then, let’s go somewhere really neat
Victoria Falls just can’t be beat
A major tourist attraction
Will bring awe, peace and satisfaction
Look at the beauty, me oh my
Even a rainbow in the sky
Don’t let this stone carved bird cause alarm
It’s on the national flag, the coat of arms
Even on banknotes and coins too
Resembles the eagle found in the ruins
Like other African countries
Traditional beliefs often mixed with Christianity
Ancestral worship & spiritual intercession
Are central to ceremonial processions
Left is a Traditional Healer called N’anga
Holding a kudu (antelope) horn trumpet, ya
Is HIV/AIDS is a major health issue in Zimbabwe? Oh ya!
Has one of the largest recorded cases in Sub-Saharan Africa
Women, children, sex workers, and the LGBTQ+ population
Are the most vulnerable in the nation
Next off to Zambia we will trek
First, a sip of wine and what the heck
Let’s relax and enjoy the scenery
One of the most glorious sunsets we’ll ever see
SLF Supports Projects in Zimbabwe
I choose to challelnge the norms, values, and power imbalances that perpetuate violence against women and girls. - Precious Taru, Director Musasa Project
Chiedza Child Care Centre Harare, Spiwe Chakawa is the Director.
At first Chiedza CCC’s focus was to respond to the impact of HIV and AIDS through offering meals and early childhood education services to children who had been orphaned due to AIDS related illnesses. Over the years, with the advent of anti-retroviral drugs, the organization adjusted its programs to respond broadly to the impact of HIV and AIDS on children and families. The focus is on four areas: child protection, education, health and nutrition, and economic strengthening. Programs include early childhood education, general education support, and non-formal education, and inclusive education for children with disabilities (which is unusual here). Paediatric HIV, child protection, health, nutrition and economic strengthening are also part of the agenda.
Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe
FOST was born in 1997 to support orphaned children on farms in Zimbabwe, largely due to the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS. It now includes support for all vulnerable children, with a bias to those supported by their grandparents. Orphaned children have the best opportunity for development within a family group, without sibling separation, in an environment that is familiar.
FOST programs promote nutritional awareness and education, and through the sale of surplus vegetables such as sweet potatoes and tomatoes (which are produced in the gardens) FOST hopes to diminish food insecurity. They utilize Internal Savings and Lending approaches for the most vulnerable households in the community. This has enabled women to send over 1650 children to school, improve their household income and participate in the development of their communities.
Psychosocial Support camps (PSS) have been a success story with positive memories for both children and their caregivers. Digital Story Telling trains children to make films about their personal stories and show how these experiences have affected their lives. The films are used as a tool to create dialogue and awareness on issues that affect children in communities. FOST has supported over 5,000 out-of-school youths through the establishment of clubs that focus on reproductive health education, recreation, sports, entrepreneurship, vocational skills training.
FOST supports self-help groups, and runs advocacy forums on the rights of vulnerable children who are at risk of increased exposure to crime, abuse, including child labour and trafficking, neglect, exploitation, violence and discrimination.
FOST supports orphans and vulnerable children in farming communities, through block grants, ECD (Early Childhood Development) centres, direct payment of fees and distribution of uniforms; stationery; provision of sport material and equipment; play centre development; training of teachers in PSS (Psychosocial Support); training of para-professionals for ECD; PSS camps for children, and homework clubs. FOST supports OVC (Orphans & Vulnerable Children) in farming communities.
FOST has strong working relationships with Government line ministries. (In fact it pretty much IS a government ministry!) This makes it easy for collaboration, networking and mobilization of training resource persons, and enables evidence based advocacy around policies affecting OVC. All this with only 5 Full Time staff and 40 volunteers!
Hope Tariro Trust 26763 Robert Mugabe Masvingo. Fezille Ncube coordinator
HTT is a charity organization formed to improve the lives and prospects of vulnerable and orphaned children in Zimbabwe.
In 2019 they held Women's Conference with the theme "Women and Happiness." Different facilitators from different organisations ran workshops on health and hygiene related issues, child development, sex and sexuality, entrepreneurial skills of women as well as the well-being of people. Drama and songs were presented concerning health related issues by care facilitators.
Midlands AIDS Service Organisation Mkoba 12, Mambo Road, Box 880,Gweru,
Advocates for children and youth , with grannies as support. During the COVID pandemic they have been delivering supplementary porridge for children under five, who are most at risk of death from malnutrition. In happier times Midland runs a play school and after school homework programs, both of which are vital to the community.
Mavambo Trust Redemptorist Brother Benjamin T. Posvo is the director
In 2002, Sister Kathleen Barbee, of Maryknoll Sisters, established the Mavambo ("genesis") Trust in response to the needs of children living in poverty. Many of the children who receive care are orphans whose parents died from AIDS. Starting with just a few helpers, the centre now employees a few dozen workers, most of whom are local residents.
Since most of the children have been unable to attend school due to lack of birth certificates and/or lack of financial resources, Mavambo provides them with life skills and psycho-social support. Hundreds of children have been trained in palliative care, since so many of them provide that service in their families.
The center also works with child-led support groups for children living with HIV and AIDS, who continue to suffer discrimination. Literacy programs and medical assistance are offered as well. Nutrition and health education are also available; the goal is that the children will develop into self-reliant, healthy adults who are able to participate fully as Zimbabwean citizens.
Musasa Project Precious Taru is Director.
Precious says, Musasa was set up in 1988 to deal with issues of violence against women and girls. It provides relief to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV).
It offers psycho-social support from all its offices and shelters to women and girls and a 24-hour helpline for survivors of gender-based violence, accessible from anywhere in Zimbabwe. It ensures that women and girls who have encountered get access to medical treatment quickly. It provides temporary safe shelters to GBV survivors the purpose of the safekeeping of the survivor (and at times her children) from any further potential harm.
Musasa has resident lawyers and paralegals who offer legal advice and assist survivors in GBV related cases. They engage policymakers on issues of conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives which impact negatively on women and girls.