Zimbabwe: Elderly Women Commend First Lady

22 January 2020

ELDERLY women in Goromonzi yesterday went down memory lane and explained how society cares for the old and vulnerable to keep traditional values intact.

They highlighted the importance of restoring traditional values which help keep away vices like prostitution, drug abuse, violence and neglecting the elderly.

This comes as chiefs and headmen's wives are now playing leading roles in assessing the needs of the elderly in communities and ensuring they have access to food, basic hygiene and society's protection.

Previously, some of the elderly wallowed in poverty owing to the collapse of the extended family unit.

However, all hope is not lost as First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa rolled out a nationwide programme to ensure the elderly lead better lives full of love and respect.

She urged chiefs and headmen's wives to form committees to spread love to the elderly and the vulnerable in their communities.

The Angel of Hope Foundation patron visited 98-year-old Mbuya Veronica Nyamadzawo, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, among other elderly people in Chigora Village near Juru Growth Point in Goromonzi.

Gogo Nyamadzawo lives with her three children.

The First Lady, chiefs' wives and women from various churches, cooked and shared a meal with the family during which Amai Mnangagwa applauded Gogo Nyamadzawo's three children for taking good care of their mother.

She underscored the need for children to know and appreciate their roots, including taking care of their aged parents.

Gogo Nyamadzawo, who was resplendent in her Roman Catholic women's guild uniform, also sang hymns in her hut which was literally turned into a church, with the First Lady and other women backing her.

In a faint voice she narrated her life history and took time to teach young women and daughters-in-law cultural matters.

"I cannot tell you just how happy I am to have been visited by the First Lady. My children are doing the best they can to look after me, but knowing there are other people out there who care for our well-being gives me joy. I am happy for what you have done to me and please do the same everywhere," she said while thanking the First Lady as she said her goodbyes.

Amai Mnangagwa and her team proceeded to Mbuya Eveline Nyamhunga (79) who stays with Mbuya Shupikai Maruvi (86).

The two were in a polygamous union which had five wives, the other three and the husband died years ago.

The elderly women live with their children and grandchildren.

At this homestead, the First Lady weeded the fields alongside Mashonaland Provincial Affairs Minister Aplonia Munzverengwi, Senate President Mabel Chinomona and Goromonzi North legislator Ozias Bvute and other women.

They also helped clean the house, did laundry and cooked a meal for the family.

"Amai, keep up the good work and ensure we grow to love one another countrywide," Mbuya Nyamhunga said to the First Lady as she served her food.

Mbuya Munayija (89) spoke strongly against neglecting the elderly and said there was need to go back to the olden days when they were looked after.

"Elderly people need rest, but for them to rest, they need to live in a peaceful environment where they are properly looked after. Youths should honour and respect their parents and all the elderly countrywide. Children of today need to be taught a lot and we believe there is still much time if only we take the First Lady's programme seriously," she said.

Chief Otilia Chimukoko from Mudzi was full of praises for the First Lady's initiative.

"As a female chief, I applaud Amai for this initiative to look after our elderly. They deserve love and honour for bringing us up and are the fountains of the country's norms and values. I am going to sit down with other women in my jurisdiction especially headmen's wives so that we carry forward this noble exercise. We want to do this exercise every month," she said.

After performing the household chores, the First Lady addressed the gathering and again the elderly women took turns to teach the youngsters about cultural norms.

The First Lady said she was happy to interact with the elderly and revisited the olden days when people lived according to tradition.

"We should help the elderly through fetching water, firewood and ensuring that they live in hygienic conditions. We should have time to sit down with them so that they do not feel lonely by not having someone to talk to," she said.

She said there was need to go back to the old days when people ate healthy traditional food that was readily available in the communities.

"We hope chiefs will highlight this whenever you sit down with your people. Reserve special days for traditional programmes where you prepare meals from small grains and vegetables like pumpkin leaves, cassava leaves, black jack."

Through her Angel of Hope Foundation, the First Lady distributed an assortment of foodstuffs to the elderly people while expecting mothers walked away with baby kits.

Cde Bvute thanked the First Lady for coming up with the programme aimed at restoring cultural values and promised to continue with the exercise which he said brings smiles to the faces of the elderly people.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi who is also Goromonzi West MP and Cde Lilian Zemura (proportional representation) were also among the officials.

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