Tinashe Muchuri Correspondent
Norton is a town that was created to provide neighbouring farms and mines with a supply of labour.
Situated 40km west of Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare, Norton is known for being next to both Darwendale Dam and Lake Chivero, which are both sources of domestic and industrial water for Harare.
Besides being the source of water it also harbours artistic talents in the Katekwe icon, Oliver Mtukudzi, Mbira DzeNharira, poet Linda Gabriel, authors Keresia Chateuka, Togara Muzanenhamo, Alec Kaposa, the director of Norton Children’s Book Festival, the late renowned poet and short story writer Julius Chingono among others.
I recall that on the last day of October 2018, at Katanga Shopping Centre a new festival was presented to the people of Norton. This festival for children about children reminded me of the National Book Week, which used to be run by the Zimbabwe Book Development Council (ZBDC).
For a week after April 2 each year, events bordering on children’s stories were held around the country to celebrate and ferry the children’s book around the country. The initiative seems to be donor driven and stopped with the dry spell of donor funds.
Festivals are held across the world and every festival has a theme that triggers action from stakeholders. Children are a future. A community without children is a dead one, for there will be no one to carry the culture of its people to the next level. Festivals, therefore, expose the future to the practices of a community through showcasing of experienced and emerging talent.
Such was this new festival that emerged from Norton to advance the survival of the children’s book and the business around the children’s book expo. Young children from Norton Education Centre touched me with their recitation of love:
Love one another
She is your sister.
Love one another
He is your brother.
The recitation evoked knowledge of our indigenous knowledge systems as it dovetails with the adage that goes: “Makudo anomarana pakudya asi musi wenjodzi ndiwo mamwe” (Baboons may fight over food, but unite against an enemy in times of struggle).
Baboons are not a rare occurrence in our lives and culture. They have a mystic attachment to our day-to-day living. We grew up being told that if one is travelling and meet baboons on the way, expressing happiness, it is a sign that the journey is blessed as nothing sinister will befall the traveller; but the reverse will happen if the baboons appear to exhibit quarrelsome traits.
If baboons feast on a farmer’s crop, it is said to be a sign of wrongdoing on the part of the one whose field has been invaded by the baboons. The farmer should confess the wrongdoing to the elders of the community for peace to be made with the ancestors.
This instalment is not about the mystic attachment the baboons have on our lives, but it is about how united they become every time they are faced by a challenge. If you want to witness their unity, dare to attack one of them. Attack a single baboon, and you attack the entire troop. They may seem disjointed when they are feeding or cruel, even to their children as they beat them for feeding first before elders, but once you scratch one of them you face the wrath of the troop.
Baboons are always depicted as fools before Hare, the trickster, their nephew. Baboon being the uncle, he and his family are always tricked by Hare and people laugh at the him. But as our ancestors observed through this proverb, baboons are not as stupid as they appear in the Baboon and Hare stories.
Baboons have a level of understanding that whatever affects one of them affects them all. Whatever places baboons in conflict with their enemy affects them all. Whoever is making enemies with one of them is their enemy. They have an unwritten constitution that we as human beings may need to learn, and if perfected some of our problems could be things of the past.
It is good to unite in the fight against cholera and other natural outbreaks, but it is best to unite against things that bring humanity in danger; natural or manmade.
As I was being driven out of Norton I replayed in my head the voices of children from Norton Education Centre recite, “Love one another”, and as we went past the Nharira Hills my heart stirred as I heard a granite stone being crushed by a machine to make quarry stones.
The sacredness of Nharira Hills is being affected and soon the beauty and tranquil epitomised by the outcrops will soon be things of the past. Soon the ceremonies that used to be held at Nharira Hills to invoke ancestral presence in the face of challenges, will be history. Rainmaking ceremonies of the past that used to grace Nharira Hills will be forgotten.
As I write these passages, I hear children reciting love and encouraging us to love one another, our culture and our children, who are our future.
Is this beauty going to end with the interment of our bones? What are we going to leave for future generations? Why do we continue fighting even when we are supposed to unite and defend our territory? Why? Why?
Norton Children’s Book Festival and Business Expo served its purpose to inspire this article and I believe it shall continue to be an inspiration to our children to continue lobbying for the preservation of the Zimbabwean story and culture without fear or favour.
Source : The Herald