PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday made a brief stop tour of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa’s stand at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) where he urged children attending an educative Gota/Nhanga/Ixhiba session there to take seriously the teachings from elders to lead successful lives in future.
The President, who was accompanied by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi, arrived to a raucous welcome by the First Lady, the elderly and the children who ululated and clapped hands for him.
He was shown various traditional kitchen utensils on display and dishes that were being prepared by the girls as part of their practical lessons.
“We are teaching the schoolchildren here how they should preserve themselves for a brighter future,” the First Lady said before the President responded saying; “I saw the Vice-President teaching the children here yesterday. As children they need guidance from elders.”
Turning to the boys in the Gota/Ixhiba, the President asked “Are you grasping what you are being taught? Is it interesting?”
In response, one of the boys, Jerifanos Mtekwa, told the President; “We were taught that at this stage, we are still young and must leave girls and concentrate on our studies. We cannot chase after two rabbits at one go.”
Responded President Mnangagwa; “Myself, I come from very long back and I reached this age because I listened to wise counsel from the elders. You should do the same and if you listen to the elders, you will succeed in life and you will also reach this age. I am so glad that you are being afforded a chance to learn,” he said as he left the First Lady’s stand.
In her remarks to the girls while in the Nhanga with the elderly women, the First Lady said it was critical for children to grow up morally upright to avoid humiliating their parents.
“It is our wish for children to grow up morally upright so that they give us a good image as mothers. My children, this programme is about educating you on the dos and don’ts in life. The choice is yours, therefore, I urge you to choose your friends wisely, friends who will help you shape your future. Look for good friends. Be wary of boys who will lure you as friends when they are aiming for something. Virginity is a once-off phenomenon. Don’t be cheap because you are the destiny of your life. We have noticed that you girls are drinking and smoking intoxicating substances. Is this because of peer pressure nhai vanangu? You need to shape your future now, this is the time. Please listen to the teachings you are getting from elders. Do away with mischief,” she said.
After a separate Gota and Nhanga sessions, the children later regrouped to be addressed by the First Lady.
She urged them to respect elders and shun drugs,
“Our children are ruined by drugs, they are now naughty and disrespectful and that is why we have brought back the Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba programme which was there since long back to counsel the children. They are being consumed by drugs and where is the country going? That is why we have said grandfathers and grandmothers, let’s put our heads together to help our children in time. They are impregnating each other at a young age. You should have respect for each other as brother and sister. As parents we know the boy and girl we want in our family and our country. We want respectful children,” she said.
The First Lady called representatives from boys and girls to outline the model child they saw fit for the country.
Presenting the qualities of the model child Jerifanos said it was essential for children to honour parents and listen to their words of advice at all times.
“It is important to honour our parents, even in the Bible it is written. We may talk of success or passing at the university, we may talk of passing at school, but if you do not have the anointing of respecting your parents, your life will be doomed. We have to listen to our parents because at times parents teach us but we fail to grasp which is wrong. All these elders here present are where they are because they listened to the teachings of their elders,” he said.
Jerifanos said the word parent included neighbours and whoever was older be it in the community.
He encouraged other children to hold firm the wise counsel to reach far.
Amai Mnangagwa made the children ambassadors of the programme and presented them with certificates.
They were given food hampers, school bags and stationery while the girls had an additional present of reusable sanitary pads courtesy of the First Lady.
The elders who took the children through the teachings were also given food hampers.
Earlier, the First Lady had toured other stands including that of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry where as patron of the environment she spoke candidly against people who were building houses and other infrastructure on wetlands.
“I think there is a lot of work to do around wetlands. You see some people building and putting in place some houses and all sorts of things when we are talking about climate change. There is need for advocacy against building on wetlands where land barons are stealing people’s money. Coming to the planting of trees, we had millions of trees that were planted last year and this time I am saying maybe catch them young. We have to sit down and think of having children from the tender ages being taught on tree planting,” she said.
The mother of the nation also visited the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development stand where Ms Magdalene Chavunduka spoke about the need to stem domestic violence.
The First Lady has been leading from the front in fighting gender-based violence and has a hotline 575 in her office where victims can get help.
Said Ms Chavunduka: “There is need to say no to gender-based violence because we cannot achieve a society that is healthy, that is economically empowered when women are suffering at the hands of men and also when men are suffering at the hands of women and also when girls are suffering and being married off at very young ages.”
She said child marriages had negative heath implications on the victims while this also shut economic opportunities for the girl child.
She further thanked the First Lady for standing up for women and the girl child before pledging her ministry’s continued support towards her programmes.
The First Lady also toured Zanu-PF stand and other stands where women and youths were showcasing their products.
Amai Mnangagwa spelt out the need for womenfolk to unite, work hard and support each other for a brighter future.
“We are saying all the women in our country, lets promote each other. Let’s see what some of us are doing and you can take a leaf from there. So, we need to promote each other, love one another and unite. Together we will make it as women,” she said.
Among the stands toured by the First Lady was that of Mashobane, Bulembe Farms and Inspire Women, Men and Children.
She spoke to Mrs Racquel Mazithulela who gave an inspirational story of how women could succeed through unity and partnerships.
“We offer a three-day Basic Farming Skills Training both theory and practical from our knowledge and experience of farming. Our aim is to empower women and youth but all are welcome. Our main objective is to introduce farming as a career and business of choice mainly to women and youth,” she said.
Mrs Mazithulela paid glowing tribute to the First Lady for supporting women through her various empowerment initiatives.
“Amai we are learning a lot from you and we appreciate what you are doing for us as women. Honestly, it is an honour as a country to have a First Lady who has passion for us who wants to make sure that we are empowered,” she said.