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Image: The bridge constructed by the Vaka Community (Elders describe how they began the project).
Image: The bridge constructed by the Vaka Community (Elders describe how they began the project).

BLOG: “Don’t Tell Me About Office-Driven Projects”

LAST week the Village Scribe had the privilege of visiting one of the rural communities of Mangwe, south of Plumtree.

The visit was a response to a formal invite by one of the most respected elders of the Plumtree community tate Masisa.

Besides being a civic leader of repute who takes community development with amazing passion, Masisa is one of the key members of Lubahhe, a community think-tank which provides insight on language, culture and general issues of public concern in the area.

Lubahhe consists of less than ten members and unlike other community movements and associations the grouping just comprise of a convener and not a full committee.

And Masisa says: “We don’t want members to canvass for positions. All of us in the association get an opportunity to convene meetings depending on the matter to be discussed.”

Well, the core of this narrative is not about Masisa or Lubahhe but the community of Vaka which the village scribe visited last week.

“Vaka”, I am pretty sure some of you – readers – are familiar with this totem. The Vaka family is a remnant of our very own legend Getjenge, after which our Plumtree town is nicknamed. The Village Scribe will tell you more about the legend of Getjenge in the next installment.

Let me take you to Vaka now! So after driving approximately 30 kilometers south-west of Plumtree town – and after getting lost in the gravel dust road for more than 3 times, my colleagues – Thomas Sithole, Schoolboy Gatsheni and I finally arrived at our destination but we were already wary that our expedition will flop.

So after a warm welcome by tate Masisa and two other community elders, we drove down the river where we were to be shown a community project – a bridge– which the community is constructing after years of suffering – particularly during the rain season.

“We love this community because we grew up here and this is the legacy which our fore fathers left; look at those trees, we used to play there when we were little boys,” Masisa said as we drove past some place which he said were his family ruins.  And in less than 5 minutes we got to the river.

Wow! Look at what these people have done here! The ground has already been dug and the soft sand piled on the side. A three-meter trench has been dug but u won’t see it has already been filled with big stones and concrete.

“You see, we started this project last month as a community after realising that during the rain season it’s difficult for cars and carts to cross the river.

“You see those buildings, (pointing to the south of the river), that’s a school and during the rain season the school literally closes because teachers and children can’t cross it,” Gilbert Ndlovu, the chairperson of the project told us.

“So how many people are involved in this project?” Sithole quizzes.

“It depends on each day. Sometimes we get more than 30 people while sometimes we get 10 people,” Bra B, one of the elders responds.

“It’s all about volunteerism. People come here on their own. We don’t push them because they are driven by the desire to see our community developing.”

I interject: “So how is the local authority supporting you in this project?”

“You know what, we don’t want the local authority (Mangwe Rural District Council) to interfere in our projects because office driven projects do not succeed, so we want nothing to do with office-driven projects.”

“We believe in community driven projects and that’s the reason why we have been able to mobilise material such as cement for this project on our own,” the old-man Masisa, who although seemingly the eldest, has been key in coordinating the project.

And so, after listening to many other stories of how communities in this part of the country have been able to come together on their own – in the absence of public officials – to successful coordinate community projects – we left the community of Vaka inspired hoping to return in the near future to marvel at the completed structure which the community elders said will be finalized within the next 6 weeks.

The Village Scribe will keep you posted on similar developments. – Written and edited by Divine Dube.





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