04 May

#Chihuta Phenomena Reveals Creativity and Collectivity of our Nation

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

I have been swept off my feet with amusement, mirth and surprise by the chihuta phenomena.  Zimbabweans embraced Chihuta in its total being and Chihuta2it has acquired all the symbolism and even a deeper life of its own. If zvihuta chaizvo izvo knew what is being said and done in their name some would roll down laughing, others will skip a meal and others will huddle to a corner to analyse, reflect and define a course of action. Zvihuta have just brought us together as a people, as a collective  rolling with laughter, still struggling to survive and huddled in corners to find solutions.

With the economic meltdown, Chihuta opened other doors to continue the conversation. The floodgates opened with the banning and unbanning of any domestication of zvihuta and their production for commercial purposes. This published decision naturally created an opportunity to discuss about the macro economic situation of the country, lack of business opportunities, jobs, stifling of small-scale business and innovations. Chihuta phenomenon gave the platform for discussing corruption and the ever elusive call out on the diamond money and employment creation. Chihuta therefore offered a platform for discourse on the same issue beyond the traditional political and partisan posturing and civil society language. It created new language.

Well, following the meme and images created overnight as it were, Chihuta became a brand synonymous with local products and innovation, competing with external big business. You could find the chihuta brand competing with twitter, “chihutter”, naturally a tasty ‘chihuta slice”, a clear message to those selling chickens, KFCs etc. A Chihuta burger poster, really saying we can be creative with how to package business rezvihuta. I was fascinated by the multiple ways in which each part of the bird is said to have a commercial value from dzondora, feathers and musoro wezvihuta and how its drum-steak is said to be tastier than other birds with sadza or rice. A clear sales and marketing pitch and angle embedded in the sublimal messages. Who knows, one can build on some of these creative ideas born out of the collective brainstorm of a nation.

Fascinating equally and challenging is how the Chihuta phenomena has given some convergence on various forms of communications and media, to pass some core messages. Creative arts and citizens journalism emerged to challenge and drown the usual dry personality centred power politics on the Zimbabwe social media on national issues. In-fact I followed more the Zvihuta commentary than workers’s day message, as these were also workers with key messages. I could relate with fellow Zimbabweans of all class and character through their own way of expression, a single word, a joke, a twisted version of existing tsumo and madimikira, a song, a picture and a cartoon. I loved most is the constructive positive warmth of chihuta phenomena. I love the Chihuta t-shirts I saw. I can do with a designer chihuta handbag!

Lastly, I just enjoyed the positive energy around zvihuta. A joyfulness, love and all. Anyone and everyone can relate with them. It is either because in real life it is that little bird that people used to see and chase,  it’s the bird now they are keeping muchirugu chavo, or it is because Chihuta is just so much associated with other birds like huku, njiva, chikwari, or horwe. It is a living creature which is part of our natural identity as people are part of nature. Chihuta is not owned and controlled by one person, and so the same with this chihuta phenomena.

Those who feel fatigue of this Chihuta phenomena will have to be patient and possibly be converted. This chihuta phenomena has now rapidly moved from social media to our daily spaces of social engagement, at the kombi rank, kumisika, at the workplace, signatures in love tweets, or simple tokens of appreciation and gifts between families. Check people’s phone books, and you will see Chihuta-wangu and a chihuta profile picture. Chihuta is here to stay. I love my country, Zimbabwe Chihuta changu!

02 May

Chihuta, the new Zimbabwe Currency?

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

ChihutaJust reflecting zvangu.

In the last few days, it became evident that the most collective creative moment for Zimbabweans is now, as Chihuta is trending as a tangible and intangible currency. Actually, the Zimbabwe government must name our new currency chihuta. It is exotic, meaningful, creative, indigenous, smooth to say, easy spell and warmly sound to the ear.  Imagine a child sent to collect a debt saying, “hanzi naamai ko Chihuta chiye”! It’s fortitous that at the moment we do not have our own currency.

It is a currency born out of the collective struggles of the people of Zimbabwe in the 21st century.  A struggle for economic survival and revitalisation. It is the re-birth of freedoms. Beyond looking west or east, north or south, we look internally and resource from within.

Many countries have special names for their money. There is birr in Ethiopia, Naira in Nigeria, Cedi in Ghana, shillings, kwachas etc. A Chihuta will be a true currency, real money for value.  Its meaning is born out of real people-driven (I hate the term though, because its evoked to provide semblance of voice and power to citizens), discourse that interlinks economic development,  appropriate natural resources utilisation without plunder, environmental awareness, and entrepreneurship all bundled in one nest/dendere.

Anyway, having chihuta as our national currency will ensure that our school curriculum will have deep content on nature study, with lessons about birds of Zimbabwe, their habitat, value and behaviour. The students will learn the difference between chihuta and chikwari or horwe. There will be discussion on whether the Zimbabwe bird is hungwe or chihuta, necessary confusion in learning.

There will be a good conversation and the controversy will continue on whether to domesticate or not domesticate zvihuta. A lot of discussion about indigenous knowledge and practice for protection of the flora and fauna. Naturally, there will be gender studies on the control, ownership and production of zvihuta.

As chihuta trends on social media and Zimbabweans warm up to this beautiful tasty bird, it is clear that for centuries we had under estimated Chihuta’s value. This simple and humble bird is the currency of the moment. Some people are already estimating lobola in zvihuta (I prefer chihuta as a token of love other than a transaction between families). Anyway, we know many people are already earning their livelihoods nezvihuta.

Why not take a leap of faith as a nation. Imagine waking up tomorrow to some news that our state coffers have 15 bhirioni zvihuta, live. They are from Marange or Chiadzwa and someone had “mistakenly” build a nest somewhere. We will be able to breathe again.

Do not ask me again. For me, our next currency should neither be a dollar, a bearer or anything else. I will happily walk to the bank and deposit zvihuta zvangu. Nobody will be permitted to slash away any or zero feathers from my hard-earned and fed chihuta.


02 May

Turning to Law Enforcement – Zimbabwe and Human Trafficking

By Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

In the last week, the main focus in Zimbabwe has been  the repatriation of 32 women who were trafficked to Kuwait. Now that with the human side of this heinous crime, human trafficking, i.e rescuing and caring the survivors of the violence is being addressed; its important to turn our minds to the crime committed.

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime under domestic and international law. It is a serious violation of human rights and requires the same seriousness in addressing the justice issues. It demands extraordinary leadership and capability of a range of law enforcement and other institutions to root out this crime and ensure justice.

Human trafficking is often extra-territorial in nature and usually such institutions as inter-pol and International Organisation on Migration (IOM), the United Nations Offices on Drugs and Crime and the Office of High Commission for human Rights are then involved. It also demands the whole society to have zero tolerance and to take necessary measures not to harbour criminals and to be cooperative with investigations. I have some questions about the increase in human trafficking in Zimbabwe.

  • who are the people involved, as individuals, business in the Zimbabwe situation?
  • where are the networks spread beyond the known and reported case of Kuwait?
  • what is our institutional capacity to investigate and prosecute?
  • do we have adequate witness protection measures in place?
  • what is the advice from the police on how citizens can assist in curbing this heinous crime?

To my fellow Zimbabweans, isn’t it better kupfuya zvihuta and earn a few bond-coins than to trade another human being?

But honestly, one of the underlying issues to be addressed is economic opportunities for women and young girls and a fight against corruption.

Am waiting for justice on the current case before the courts.


*Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is an international human rights lawyer, specialises on women and children’s rights. She currently serves as African Union Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriage.

01 May

Human Trafficking is Exploitative Labour, A Crime and Modern Form of Slavery

cropped-NG31.jpgBy Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

As the sun sets today, thirty-two (32) of our Zimbabwe sisters who arrived yesterday from Kuwait will or have been reuniting with their families. Away from the glare of the public, holding on to the joy of life saved, they will be recounting their experiences. Some stories will be in drips and drops, others will be a gushing of emotions, pain and tears. The pain and the experiences are still raw. Exhaustion and joy!

Some of the survivors are embraced by welcoming parents or guardians,  possibly cursing themselves for having urged and supported the trip. Others will face the tensions in their homes as the blame game is reignited and finger pointing ensues. Who did what, gave what information or did not listen to the other. Others have no immediate family to go to, a distant aunt, sister, ambuya nasekuru. Others have their children patiently waiting for mom to embrace.

Some may have literally run away from home and now they have to get somewhere kwekupotera, for they can not just arrive back home. Or they went against their parents or “social/economic guardians” wish, for legal age of majority does not confer total freedom for poor dependent young women and girls. Some have inquisitive boyfriends, partners or husbands or are happy or anxious to have their loved ones home. They are equally unsure of how they will handle the information if she discloses sexual abuse of any kind.

This is my call out to families, friends and loved ones receiving in your homes the women who were trafficked to Kuwait. This is not the time to dig into the details, to blame and shout, and sleep late into the night sorting out all the details. This is simply the day to welcome, to show love, empathy and understanding.

On this 2016 Labour day, its a day in which as a nation, as a people, as Africa and the world, we are acutely reminded of exploitative labour. Exploitation of domestic workers everywhere. Human trafficking from Zimbabwe to Kuwait is mostly for exploitative labour. We must have robust global laws to stamp out these criminal acts. Zimbabwe must step up its efforts to prevent human trafficking. We must all do what we can to have our hundreds of sisters still stranded in Kuwait to come back home.

Lets reintegrate with empathy and understanding.

01 May

Tips on Prevention of Human Trafficking

Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda

Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda


African Union (AU) Goodwill Ambassador for Early Child Marriages, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda has been in the forefront against abuse of young girls, including the Zimbabwean women, falsely lured to Kuwait to work as domestic servants. She tells Studio 7’s Marvelous Mhlanga-Nyahuye the issue is continent wide. Listen here


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