Lancelot Muteyo, whose poetry is often found on this blog has sent news and photos from his recent training experiences. Lance is Training and Advocacy Director of the Pan African Peace Network as well as the founder of Trees of Peace Africa His first experience earlier this summer was training for cheifs for conflict resolution and the second was for the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship.
Masvingo is the oldest colonial settlement in Zimbabwe. It is a low lying area , South-East of Zimbabwe and largely populated by the Karanga tribe who are the most populous in Zimbabwe. Due to its geographical location the area is prone to rain floods and droughts. Most of rural Masvingo was affected by strong floods during the planting season early this year. Many people were left homeless, fields were destroyed, livestock perished and several people lost their lives. The whole nation including Government, civic organizations, churches, Non Governmental Organizations, private organizations, churches and individuals came forward to offer humanitarian aid. All these people’s port of call in the villages was mainly the chief and his council and partly the pastors. Hence, the chief’s council have been responsible for facilitating aid and this has been creating serious conflicts exacerbated by greedy, nepotism, tribalism, factionalism, politics, ignorance and corruption.
Chiefs in Zimbabwe are traditional leaders appointed by the President through the Chiefs Council under Customary Law in the district and chieftainship is hereditary. They work with kraal heads which are traditional leaders subordinate to the chief and headman which are traditional leaders subordinate to the kraal head. Their functions are important as they promote and uphold cultural values, traditions and history by facilitating development. They administer communal land and protect the environment and also resolve disputes. Chiefs work with everyone and are above everyone in the village but they occasionally have conflicts with pastors over beliefs of tradition versus Christianity. They are not political figures as they are not allowed to align with any political party though in reality it is debatable.
Chief Ndanga is the Chief in Pedzisai Village Ward 4 Zaka communal lands governing a very large area with 254 kraal heads and headmen. This area has hundreds of different churches. This three (3) day workshop was aimed at training 35 people from this group together with pastors in conflict transformation and disaster risk reduction mechanism. The training method used was experiential education in a vernacular language called Shona.
Sixty four (64) people attended the training. Thirty (30) were males and thirty four (34) females. We had 1 Chief; Honorable Chief Ndanga in charge of 254 villages, 6 Kraal Heads, 18 Village heads, 17 pastors and prophets and 28 community members who included leaders for different community programs.
Against this background the following were the workshop goals;
1. Learn Bible-based principles of conflict transformation
2. Learn skills for transforming conflicts
3. Gain insights to apply conflict transformation to conflicts in the village.
4. Learn basic sustainable Agricultural practices as a form of community preparedness to disasters.
Lance’s second recent experience was for the All Africa Baptist Youth Fellowship, the youth wing of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship which is under the Baptist World Alliance. Founded in 1982, it has managed to achieve many things especially in West Africa but little in Southern and East Africa and nothing for North Africa. Like any other Baptist institutions in Africa, the fellowship is been affected by conflicts emanating from the constitutional crisis, leadership crisis, nepotism and so on. This has and is creating factions especially between West Africa which dominates the fellowship and Southern Africa which is slowly coming up into leadership roles.
H trained a total of 101 participants; 46Nigerians, 5Namibians, 1 Angolan, I South Sudanese, 1 Togolese, 7 Zimbabweans, 4 Zambians, 26 South Africans, 2 Liberians, 3 Ghanaians,1 Congolese from Democratic Republic of Congo, 4 Cameroonians, 1 Jordanian. These participants were empowered to take the leading roles by transcribing, participating in different exercises like thumb wrestling, ways we are different and chairs of power. It was a powerful experience though Lance reported that he expected that, since he was going to a youth conference, he would meet youth in their teens and 20s, half of the people were between 30 to 40 years and only a quarter was under the age of 30 years.