MEN and women from all walks of life yesterday came together and exchanged notes on the ideal mother and father that Zimbabwe wants, as part of ongoing efforts to build a morally-upright nation.
This comes at a time when the country is saddled with rising cases of juvenile delinquency where young boys and girls are abusing drugs and falling into sex-work, among many other issues that can be solved through good parentage.
The men and women have met separately twice, but yesterday marked the first time the two groups were meeting together discussing what they came up with during the Nharirire yeMusha naAmai programme being spearheaded by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa.
The no-holds barred highly interactive session was held in strict observance of Covid-19 protocols of masking up, sanitising and washing hands.
The Nharirire yemusha programme which targets parents and guardians is a sequel to the Gota/Nhanga/Ixiba initiative through which children voiced concern to the mother of the nation that some of the challenges they faced were in response to the way they were being raised by their parents.
During yesterday’s deliberations, there was no high table as the First Lady sat among guests saying as a mother, she also had a lot to learn so that she can also effectively watch over her family.
Contributions that were made during the discussions highlighted the importance of the programme.
Mrs Susan Chuma said parents partly should be blamed for the misbehaviour in today’s children.
“As parents we are spoiling our children. A child does not work and is still in school, but as mothers we thank her for coming home with expensive gifts. We do not even care to ask where she is getting all these things. What are we teaching our children?” she asked with pain written all over her face.
Another participant, Mrs Stella Nyandove, spoke candidly against extramarital affairs.
“As women, we are being accused of denying our spouses conjugal rights as we age, but these men are going after small houses who use juju on them and they fail to function properly in their marriages. I cannot broadcast this to children that this is what your father has done.
“Some women are still in their matrimonial homes only in respect of their marriage vows. We have faith that this programme brought by Amai will teach men some lessons that cheating is not good,” she said.
The First Lady said she introduced the Nharirire programme to complement the gota/nhanga/ixiba programme which sought to raise morally upright children.
“Children raised issues which rested on our shoulders as their parents. God blessed us with children whom we are pushing to face the world without proper teachings on how to live and work together with others. As a father, what role do you play in your home?
“As a mother what are you in your home or our country which was bequeathed to us by God? Why do we let our children move about with unfastened trousers? Why is our daughter competing with her father in drinking beer? Vana mai nana baba, you have done well to come here so that we put our heads together because alone, the task is too big for me. You have wiped my tears because the challenges children, mothers and fathers face kutambudzikawo kwemoyo wangu,” she said to applause.
“Today we have come to mould a father and a mother we want in our country. We want women to be happy with the men we are going to produce here and vice versa. Since we started this programme separately, today we decided to meet and exchange notes on what we came up with in the hope of building these two characters. In the home, what is a child? We discovered that if we build ourselves first, we can then have a daughter and son we want in our country,” she said emphatically.
Mrs Briggette Matenganzara, a teacher at Girls High School, gave an overview of the qualities of an ideal mother women came up with when they met separately.
“What is expected of a mother? She is a helper who assists her husband in seeking and preserving her family’s wealth, who is loving and teaches her children good values.”
“She must be a smart woman who dresses decently and practices hygiene to protect the health of the family.
“A good mother must be well-behaved. Someone who is respectable, advisable and has time to listen to issues that mould her and the family. A good woman must be forgiving and does not cheat. She is a submissive wife who learns what her husband wants, does not decline with conjugal rights and mitigates in times of need. A good wife is not lustful and is content with what she has, organised and helps the husband in looking after their children,” read Mrs Mutenganzara from the list that came from women.
Men came up with the qualities of an ideal man that the country wants.
Speaking on behalf of men, Mr Michael Mushwinyi said an ideal man must have ideas and must ensure that his family is secure, safe, sheltered and well fed.
“He must lead his family as a visionary and exercise a sense of mutual cooperation, should spend all resources on his family and should not break other people’s marriages. Your wife is adequate, avoid dating other men’s wives. An ideal man should not manipulate women because of his position or demand love favours.
“He should not have extramarital affairs. A real man must not have a small house because that is where he will squander money meant for school fees for his children and their upkeep leading to domestic violence. Let it start here today that we must do away with small houses,” he said.
The men also said a good husband should work towards building an economic base for himself and future generations, should not be abusive in all terms, should work in consultation with his wife and should register his marriage.
A real man, they said, should register a will whose beneficiaries are supposed to be his wife and children.
“He should source and grab all opportunities that would benefit his family, respect himself and his wife’s opinions and be God-fearing, celebrates achievements of his family, have a truthful and sincere character. A good husband apologises when wrong, should build a deeper connection with his wife,” the men said.
So full of life and drama was yesterday’s programme that participants had time for laughter as they went through their discussions.
Mr Ephraim Gukuta, a widower, spelt out the need for men to love their spouses.
“I am a widower, but I know that if a man wants a really good life, love your wife. God assigned every husband to love their wives. If I am to remarry, I will even go an extra mile and bath my wife as a way of expressing my love. Execute your duties as a husband and not seek to blame your spouse.
‘Even you women, when you are given love do not take advantage and think he has no one else to give the love to. Other women are capable of overtaking you. It is by grace to find someone who loves you. Women must be submissive and let us love one another that’s God’s will,” said Mr Gukuta.
Touched by Mr Gukuta’s suggestions, Gogo Eleano Gondongwe said it was important for married people to enjoy each other’s company.
“If a man and his wife agree with each other, they can have time to teach their children good morals. But if you fight always, this becomes impossible,” she said.
One man rose from the floor and said he was taught the traditional way of life while growing up and it had paid off well, but nowadays children were being raised the wrong way.
“We grew up having meetings with elders and being taught cultural norms and values. However, this is not how we are raising our children these days, hence their lack of guidance,” he said.
Former Kasongo Band leader, Knowledge Kunenyati, popularly known as Baba Handishaye who is now a gospel musician, said men must be God-fearing.
“My testimony as a musician, there is no mischief I did not do including taking mbanje and womanising. I was promiscuous, but I thank the Lord for saving me. I, however, found favour and got to know God. Therefore, a real man should be God-fearing and raise his family the proper way,” he said while urging other men to fear God.
Mrs Beaula Dzonga praised the First Lady for coming up with a programme which promotes love and unity in the home.
“Thank you Amai for this programme which will make us love one another with our husbands in the home. Men do not know that we also want the chips they enjoy with their girlfriends out there while leaving us to eat cabbages. This programme has also taught our husbands,” she said.
Mr William Matenga, popularly known as Gweshegweshe after his role in the drama series Gringo, had very few words.
“Men and women, let us continue following our traditional norms and values so that our children grow up knowing these traditional norms,” he said.
Mr Tinashe Navhaya said the Nharirire yemusha programme truly helped build families.
“Men, you should love your wives whole-heartedly. Some marry dark women whom they later ditch for those who are light in complexion, resulting in their spouses being burnt by skin-lightening creams to save their marriages. Let us love our wives,” he said.
In his vote of thanks, acting Harare Mayor Stewart Mutizwa, praised the First Lady for coming up with the insightful programme.
“Being a woman involves kneeling down in prayer for your family. I want to thank God for giving Amai the wisdom and vision to come up with such a programme. Today we have built a man and a woman we want. It’s important to have husbands and wives who watch over their families as Nharirire yemisha. The programme is important to all us because it builds the nation. If we are to follow what we learnt here, it would mean less domestic violence cases in homes. This programme being spearheaded by the First Lady brings unity and love in the family, community and nation at large,” he said.
The programme will be taken to all the provinces.