RURAL Zimbabweans have always borne the brunt of social, economic and political problems. They have always been at the receiving end when it comes to both development and under-development.
The well-defined social groups
In rural areas, unlike in cities and towns, people live as clans or just as people, whose social life is woven to the extent that unrelated people live together.
In my area, in Murewa, you find people sharing one surname living in the same area or maybe those with the same totem.
The Gushungos, from Njenje village, the Mukotamis, the Chikonamombes of Mhondoro, the Mhofus of Seke, the list is endless.
This way of living dates back to the pre-colonial era, where people of the same clan would live in the same area under a common chief they would all be identified with.
Poverty and underdevelopment
It is not a secret that rural areas in Zimbabwe, although there may be exceptions, are synonymous with poverty and underdevelopment.
There are areas where people still don’t have access to clean water. There are areas where some people are still using the bush toilet systems.
Rural areas remain underdeveloped also in terms of communication systems.
The roads are still an eyesore, with services like policing, hospitals, good shops and ICT still being found in far away places.
During my school days, a teacher would look for the slightest opportunity to be away from the impoverished community.
Learning resources are very scarce, compounded by the meagre fees being paid by a handful of parents who can afford.
It is prudent to note that during the rise of early nationalism, urban people were quick to notice anomalies and mobilise each other quickly. It took years before the struggle reached the rural areas.
Political leaders versus the ignorance
The most vulnerable people, when it comes to politics, are the rural people. Their vulnerability stems from lack of adequate information on politics, economics and global trends.
Rural people usually rely on radio and television for information — for those with a better lifestyle. For those without, they rely on other people like community leaders and teachers.
With this in mind, they are susceptible to believing anything without didactic reasoning over it or blatantly brushing aside issues of much significance.
In my area, people think the role of the Member of Parliament is to build roads, bridges and improve infrastructure, when actually, he or she is their representative in the House of Assembly.
Instead of Members of Parliament being servants, they become bosses in rural areas.
A councillor represents people in the local authority, but you see them being treated as if they do not have roles.
The roles of the above representatives, at various levels of governance, are a source of confusion, when actually they are clear.
By the nature of their settlement and social structure, the rural populace is at the mercy of systems that manipulate them.
Who doesn’t know that the village head and his people rhetoric is true.
They are also an easy target of political violence due to low population density, where they can’t fight an intruder together. With a little knowledge, it’s easy to hoodwink them into believing wrong facts.
Issues to do with democracy, governance and transparency are not properly taught to them.
Rural school children
As I was growing in the rural areas, the only jobs I knew were being a teacher and a police officer. The other professions were unheard of.
This dawned upon me that we are losing out on very good engineers, doctors or inventors due to lack of career guidance and exposure. The ambitions are the horizon, the dreams are horizon, hence, these school children suffer a lot.
Besides being in a prohibitive learning environment, rural children lack access to learning materials unlike their counterparts in the urban areas.
There is no motivation for learning due to lack of motivators within. Compare it to an urbanite, who rubs shoulders with the “who is who” in the country. Already, that child’s ambitions are higher than the one in rural areas.
School children still walk long distances to schools, and when they get there, they are tired and weary.
They have to learn at school despite the tiredness, do general work and go back home to help with hoursehold chores.
Can the same child perform better than the one in urban areas? When we talk of rural schools, we do not mean mission schools in rural areas, but those in schools like Nyama in Hurungwe, Pakati, Shamu in Murewa, Batanai in Mwenezi, Gwehava in Gokwe, Madzivaenzou in Kadoma and so on.
Despite the majority of Zimbabweans still living in rural areas, our rural areas require a lot of development and the growth points system was a brilliant idea, which should have been pursued vigorously.
Corporates should go deep into the rural areas and assist brilliant pupils struggling with scholarships to go to good schools or even out of the country.