People keep telling me that the factories in Bulawayo are closing, and do you know why – it’s because we did not build those factories. I am not saying it’s a good thing they closed, but I am saying this is an opportunity for us to build with our own hands. If I – a local person – builds a factory I am unlikely to shut shop and go one day. But the question remains why are we not building – the first thing is that we need to believe in ourselves, and know that before the Lord we are complete. It’s a question of identity – you and I need to know that we are images of the living God, this is our source of strength. Only with that understanding will we do anything, if we see ourselves as God sees us, then we will move. It’s knowing whose you are – your identity is in Christ, you belong to the Lord, and before the Lord you are equal to anyone else.
I started in 2008, building with what I have – going to Botswana and buying and selling things, and now I own a filling station. Then I thought of what at the time I called a green Gwaai project – I wanted to turn the area around me green. I dug a well and put a tomato greenhouse, I’ve been doing this for 2 years now. I expanded last year and laid some piping from the borehole, I now have a drip system for my tomatoes – so in winter I harvest vegetables – cabbages, tomatoes etc. though I still grow maize.
All this work I am doing is an investment, we must invest in the coming generations, invest in our children so they can survive without begging, this donor syndrome has hurt our children, our children are capable, and this erodes their sense of self. I am trying to help them build projects that do not require a donation from elsewhere, I am really fighting this dependency, and it’s difficult because there is only one of me. A lot of them are now seeing what I am saying though, that I am not looking to be asking, and therefore people are now digging their own wells, and the gospel I have been preaching that we are enough, with God we are enough, we do not need anyone else is starting to bear fruit. We have to start with what we have.
I am mobilising groups over there in Tsholotsho to build this, it’s a new thing, and it’s not always easy. I have offered a local women’s group access to my well – I love working with the women, they are more responsible I am sorry to say. I am helping them raise money by enabling them to fatten their cattle which helps them raise more money than just selling the cattle as they are. Our method is that they can only take profit out, they cannot sell the cow and take all the money because there would be problems – people will start depleting the family herd and eating into their capital. If anyone wants to leave the project we do not give them money, we help them buy another cow, so they leave with as many cows as they started with – and the only money they can take out is the profit they earned. This way we keep peace in the homes, we can’t have fathers depleting the family herd for money – all we want is simply a way to raise capital.
At 52 I am one of the youngest former freedom fighters – I joined the war at 15, and even during the liberation war this is what we used to teach – that we must build with our own hands. I tell people I am not a war vet, I am a freedom fighter, the term war vet has become associated with a mercenary attitude I do not like. When we went to war we were called abalweli be nkululeko (freedom fighters), people sometimes have the wrong idea that we went to war to fight white people – we went to fight an unjust system that was making it impossible for us to develop ourselves. And I am still fighting the injustice of under-development today. But now I am doing it with different tools.