Saturday, August 04, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: Mugabe Tells Universities to Embrace African Culture; Minister's Wife Confronts Opposition Leader, etc.

Embrace African culture, President tells universities

Masvingo Bureau

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday lamented the tendency by African universities to produce graduates who look down upon African cultures.

The President, who was speaking soon after being installed as the first Great Zimbabwe University Chancellor in Masvingo, challenged universities to produce graduates who are technically competent and well versed in the African culture, saying it was important for institutions of higher learning to provide the missing link between education and "our deep-rooted culture".

The President was installed GZU Chancellor by Vice Chancellor Professor Obert Maravanyika at a colourful ceremony.

President Mugabe said it was saddening to note that all expressions of African culture had been eliminated during centuries of colonialism and racial subjugation, leaving only those which were of entertainment or comical value.

He said university education in Africa tended to produce "cultural dwarfs".

"I am naturally concerned that while some of our present universities in Africa are producing technically competent graduates, many of them turn out to be cultural dwarfs who look down on their Africanness.

"There is clearly a missing link between education and our deep-rooted culture. The marginalisation of African culture in education has essentially been a result of the introduction of schooling by colonialists who had as a primary objective, the elimination of African culture in all expressions except those which were of entertainment or comical value."

The President said the late Pan-African icon and Ghana’s founding president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first conceptualised the idea that an African university was supposed to have its root in African traditions and culture.

Dr Nkrumah, said President Mugabe, dreamt of an ideal African university that he said could only be useful to Africans and to the world if it was grounded in African communities and cultures.

"To be useful and relevant, the African university must not pursue knowledge for its own sake, but also for the amelioration of conditions of life and work for the ordinary men and women. Such a university must be committed to active participation in the social transformation, economic modernisation and the development of the total human resources of the nation.

"Universities in Africa must engage with and reflect the identity of their people in Africa. For scholars in search of truth, Great Zimbabwe needs to fully engage the idea of an African university and what such an institution can offer not only to the people of Africa, but to the world," President Mugabe said.

It was also imperative for Zimbabweans in particular and Africa in general, he added, to develop confidence to realise the connections across disciplines, national and regional boundaries in order to contribute to the global store of knowledge and culture inherited from past generations.

Turning to GZU, the President said it was important that its curriculum be reflective of aspects of Zimbabwean and African culture and history that are embodied in the achievements associated with the Great Zimbabwe state to serve as a re-affirmation of past and present achievements and their link and continuity with the present as well as the future.

He said the place occupied by GZU was very central to the identity of Zimbabweans hence its location in the vicinity of the revered Great Zimbabwe Monuments which was not by coincidence but through a well-thought-out design.

The birth of GZU, the President said, was as a result of his desire, expressed at the 2004 Annual Chiefs’ Assembly at the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, that a State-funded university be built near the Great Zimbabwe Monuments to celebrate "our rich cultural heritage as well as symbolise our unity and vision for the bright future of Zimbabwe".

"It (GZU) is a historic area, close to the World Heritage Site which will inspire the students, the faculty and the support staff with the same wisdom, religious and moral values, courage and determination and the indigenous scientific culture that characterised and bound together those gallant ancestors, men and women of courage and valour, determination and wisdom, who walked these paths and left their indelible footprints on this very ground we stand today.

"Our identity is embodied in the heritage we share and in the legacy of our local fauna and flora in the unique and imposing architectural designs and engineering stone work of a civilisation that had its headquarters here and spread all over Zimbabwe and beyond our borders into neighbouring Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique," said President Mugabe.

It was also pleasing to note that a School of Archaeology was going to be established on the ground that was appropriately named after the inspirational site, a development President Mugabe said would serve as a beacon of hope to students and staff.

The President said GZU was supposed to re-assert Zimbabwe’s honourable identity that would give the nation a distinctive brand.

The university’s responsibilities would, among other things, encompass moral, intellectual and inspirational values served by adapting "our scholarship to the social structure and the cultural environment of Africa".

President Mugabe challenged local scholars to rediscover and re-interpret the distorted history of the Great Zimbabwe Monuments for the promotion of values that were fundamental to today’s society.

The President later donated 200 state-of-the-art computers to 20 schools in Masvingo Province that he said were not sourced with money from Europe but from black people.

"These are our own computers coming from black people we sourced for some donations and changed them into US dollars to buy the computers. There is no donation from Europe, aiwa kwete. It’s our own black people. Kuno ku Masvingo handisati ndasvika asi kanandasvika ndichataura ne ma businessmen ane mari kuti abatsire,’’ President Mugabe said.

St Anthony High, Chiwara High, Chilonga High, Mangondo High, Odzi High, Mazungunye High, Gwamakunguwo High, Chimwanza High, Malipati High, Machingambi High, Mushandike High, Alfred Nikita Mangena High, Dinhe High, Chinorumba High, Chimbwembwe High, Chin’ombe 1 High, Dumisani High, Chingogwe High, Nyikavanhu High and Mapakomhere High were the schools that received the computers.

The President said Government would continue with the rural electrification programme, starting mainly with secondary schools so that students could use computers before eventually turning to primary schools.

He reminded GZU authorities that his installation as Chancellor did not mean that he was the university’s sole benefactor and donor, saying he was, however, going to look for people who could assist the institution.

President Mugabe later officially laid the foundation stone at the site where the university’s main campus would be built.

Tsvangirai flees

Herald Reporter

Chaos at wholesaler as faction leader’s move backfires MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s propaganda attempt to negatively portray the price freeze ordered by Government backfired when he was made to flee after being confronted by Harare businesswoman and wife of Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Mrs Jocylene Chiwenga at Makro Wholesale in Harare on Wednesday.

With the international and local private media in tow, Tsvangirai stormed the shop where shoppers were ordered to make way for him and his coterie of reporters and photographers.

Stunned shoppers were told that the "President" was coming in, but Mrs Chiwenga would have none of it.

"I thought it was President Mugabe and I became curious because I wanted to see my President because there is only one President ruling Zimbabwe and that’s President Mugabe. But to my surprise, it was Morgan Tsvangirai," she told ZBC-News last night.

Mrs Chiwenga confronted Tsvangirai and told him in his face that he was responsible for the illegal sanctions hurting Zimbabwe and the Western machinations to use price increases to effect illegal regime change.

She said the opposition leader bolted out of the shop as shoppers gathered.

People who spoke to The Herald last night said it was ironical that Tsvangirai, who has previously said he is prepared to lead Zimbabweans in a revolt against the Government, ran away from an unarmed individual.

Tsvangirai’s reporters were focusing on empty shelves, ignoring those that had stocks.

Mrs Chiwenga bought groceries for her village and city homes at the same shop. The groceries were shown on television last night, including her till receipt.

In an attempt to twist what happened, some newspapers and online news websites claimed Mrs Chiwenga caused mayhem at the shop by attacking journalists and shoppers and insulting Tsvangirai.

Mrs Chiwenga said she would sue the media organisations and Tsvangirai himself as she had not attacked anyone. She wondered how she could have beaten up men including the well-fed Tsvangirai.

Staff at the shop said the opposition leader had come to assess the level of stocks following the price freeze ordered by Government in June to arrest runaway prices that had left the majority of people unable to afford basic commodities and spurring inflation.

Reports said Tsvangirai had visited some shops in the central business district.

The opposition leader has criticised the price freeze which, however, has been welcomed by consumers who were weighed down by extortionate price increases that had become the order of the day.

More bosses sentenced

Court Reporter

FOUR more shop managers in Harare were yesterday ordered to perform 105 hours of community service apiece, while their shops were fined $3 million for overcharging or failing to furnish invoices to pricing monitoring officials.

This brought the number of managers sentenced to community service since Wednesday to 10, following the sentencing of six others.

Gift Tafura of Mendic Cash and Carry in the city centre, Kudakwashe Nyaminzi of Tinofara Store in Epworth, and Stuart Matute of Penyai Enterprises in Glen View were convicted on their own pleas of guilty to overcharging by Harare magistrate Ms Olivia Mariga, while Silence Gangata of Abissinia Wholesalers and Retailers in the city was found guilty of failure to furnish invoices.

Tafura will be working at Stodart Police Station in Mbare, Nyaminzi at Gunyerere Primary School in Epworth, Matute at Budiriro 5 Primary School and Gangata at Strathaven Police Post.

They began serving their sentences yesterday at Government offices nearest to them, and would render their services between 8am and 4pm during working days and rest on weekends until completion of their sentences.

If they fail to perform the service to expectation, they would each be jailed for three months.

Meanwhile, six other managers — Shadreck Muchenje of Muchie Fashions along Jason Moyo Avenue, Albert Mutengwa of Food Chain Group Supermarket in Glen View, Asah Arferi of Golden Millers in Ruwa, Tendai Chinamhora of Exclusive Fashions in the city centre, Hiteshkumar Harmanbhar Patel of Target Stores and Zivayi Mboko of Nyamidzi Motor Spares — were yesterday fined $5 million each for similar offences and had their shops ordered to pay $3 million.

A sentence of three months’ imprisonment for each was set aside on condition they are not convicted of similar offences in the next three years.

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