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Zim fails to tap into its creative potential

Zim fails to tap into its creative potential

 

GROWING up in the dusty streets of Mkoba, John Mahove always had a passion for art, but had no idea how to go about it.

BY LEARNMORE NYONI

As a pupil at Chaplin High School in Gweru, the school ranked mathematics and sciences highly over the arts. He had to be serious in the subjects ranked as the most important, if he was to win the favour of his teachers and parents.

His teachers did not make it any easier for him, as they always encouraged him to pursue “respectable and rewarding” careers such as becoming a pilot, doctor or something science-related.

Although well-meaning, such educationists rigidly mould all their students into these “respectable” career paths regardless of their passions, interests, personal creative and intuitive capabilities.

As such, Mahove chose to do the revered sciences combination of mathematics, physics and chemistry at Advanced Level and scored 11 points in 2001.

He then considered a career in medicine, but the University of Zimbabwe selection team had a surprise for him: they selected him for Metallurgical engineering, something he had never dreamt of doing!

After graduating with a metallurgical engineering degree in 2006, he pursued a career in engineering.

Due to limited job prospects locally, Mahove joined the great trek to South Africa and settled in Cape Town, where he ended up selling the few artworks he had carried along to support his hunt for metallurgical jobs.

It was this realisation that art was now supporting metallurgy, and not the other way round, that it dawned upon Mahove that he had to follow his passion. He forfeited metallurgy and engaged in art full-time.

Today, Mahove lives comfortably in Zimbabwe working fulltime as an artist. He has opened his studio in Gweru, where he spends his day either sketching or painting portraits largely of wild animals, a trade that has seen him become one of the most sought-after artists in Zimbabwe.

Although the price each artwork fetches depends on its size and details, some of his artworks earn well over $1 000 each.

Mahove says the joy that he finds after finishing an artwork is indescribable and no amount of money can buy it.

He regrets that the education system stole away six years of his life he spent doing A Level and at university and financial resources lost and time and money he could have spent developing his artistic talent and masterpieces.

Mahove’s life experiences are reflective of the shortcomings of our education system in two areas.

Firstly, the pushing of students into fields of study that they are neither interested nor passionate about costing the people concerned and the nation at large by failing to tap into their creative potential in time.

This pushing of students towards sciences, accountancy and other such careers that are considered noble by educators suffocates the creative and intuitive minds of the not so scientifically gifted students.

Secondly, the selection processes of our tertiary institutions more often than not, remotely selects students into various fields of study without interviewing them to ascertain their interests and passions so that they can guide them accordingly into their appropriate careers paths.

Mahove is one of the many Zimbabwean students that the education system wrongly moulded into becoming what they are not and never allowed them a chance to discover where their true passions lie.

Sadly, not many are as bold as Mahove to forfeit a science career for one in the arts.

While schools are essential in developing lifelong skills in research, critical thinking and encouraging the thought process they, however, promote conformity and standardisation.

Those that fail to live up to the expectations of examinations are eternally condemned as dull, a tag that may stifle creativity in other careers such as the arts.

It is this structured environment that many pundits argue stifles creativity and innovation while pushing students to “study harder” in areas that they are neither passionate about nor even competent in.

The education system demands the “right answers” and in the process students creatively express themselves less and concentrate on getting the “right” answers in class.

Education systems rank the scores in tests so highly as a sign of intelligence and academic worthiness while creative minds in arts and sports are left in the periphery.

The call for Stem, while very commendable in pushing for the adoption of science and engineering disciplines for economic development, such initiatives may become white elephants if the concepts of innovation and creativity are not integrated into the learning processes.

The advent of the digital technology has, however, been a blessing in disguise, as it has given a lot of young creative minds a platform to express themselves without censorship, in the process promoting the growth of new ideas, concepts and technologies.

Although the current education system will, however, continue to be credited for opening up various avenues for students to choose carers for themselves, it needs to recognise and appreciate creativity and innovation even against the dictates of the “tried and tested” methods of new knowledge, technologies and ideas are to be created.

 

The story appeared first on Newsday

https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/04/zim-fails-to-tap-into-its-creative-potential/

 

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Featured

Pride

In the dark corridors of power,

She savagely lurches.

On unsuspecting prey She stealthily waits.

 

In tip toe hiccup fashion

heavy stilettoes knock the hard tile

oblivious of Her obvious

green envious glare.

They lead to the narrow aisles

of wide plains of generous wood tops,

against the morning still.

 

Patiently, she coils.

Glass frames on nose tip

She has been through it all

Worry not, they wont fall

 

Venom boils in delay as

Bloody fangs show.

She is in control.

 

Brown envelopes in end month queues,

timid bows receive.

Blood thirst screams

scatter lives into sweat and blood.

Worry not,

She has seen it all.

Budget Travel: Tour of Domboshava

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As I planned to depart for Domboshava in mid-December, my mind picture lingered on when i last visited it in 1997, then as a 12 year old kid. The persistent thought was on how I had lost balance, slipped and hit my head on a rock surface while sliding on my feet down the steep, soapy and slippery slope of flowing water on an outlaying rock. This was a common game for rural Domboshava kids, sliding down the sloppy, soapy and watery rock surfaces either on their naked buttocks or (for the daring ones) on feet and I, an urban novice had joined in the frenzy of rural accustomed kids only to find myself with partial amnesia a few moments later. All tourists to Domboshava are urged never to try this either in Domboshava or at home. Driven by that melancholic nostalgia, I wanted to revisit the place to relive the pleasures that had been disrupted by this childhood accident.

The directions are pretty basic. One Drives eastward along Samora Machel Avenue and then turns left into Seventh Street, past the Presidential Residence, better known as State House in Zimbabwe and it’s a straight stretch right into Domboshava. I remembered, as I drove past State House, how just a few weeks back this now deserted, sacred and well-guarded place had been thronged or rather mobbed by over a million people who peacefully demonstrated against the then President Mugabe leading to his resignation.

The drive was so smooth, no potholes, no police roadblocks but the road was however surprisingly narrow. Overtaking is certainly a risky undertaking along this road. There was actually a road-sign prohibiting overtaking in the area just past Borrowdale and as I drove on, the leafy suburb gives way to Hatcliffe a more populous high density community. The transition was however sudden, from the lush and spacious Borrowdale properties into the congested Hatcliffe households.
It was just a 3 minute drive, at most, to cross the Hatcliffe suburb at about 60kms/hr owing to the not so friendly road. Thereafter I drove past a road grid that separated Hatcliffe from Domboshava communal lands. What quickly and worryingly struck my curious eye was how the once sparsely populated natural beauty; Domboshava had been turned into another high density suburb of Harare. So packed were the homesteads that one would be forgiven for confusing it to Mbare the oldest and most populous residential township of Harare.

Past the grid, and now within the Domboshava community, I drove on and the road was still ok by Zimbabwean standards. I drove further into Domboshava past one business centre known as Mverechena. The centre looked so ghetto Harare in every aspect of the word; I did not let that deter me from going on. I drove on and just about 3kms after Mverechena business centre, there it was; the National Museums & Monuments logo and the sign, it directed cars to turn right into the famous Domboshava Caves and Mountains. My earlier enquiries had advised me that it would cost me $3 per person to climb Domboshava Mountain and view the caves. This is not what I wanted, so I drove on and got to the next business centre called, “Showgrounds” although I did not see any physical structure or even an opening to justify the name of the centre. Still congested, mountains were partially swallowed by the populous man-made structures, stealing the scenic views of Domboshava of old; still I drive on past Showgrounds. Now the road gets really rugged for three to five kilometres.

My odometer shows me I have travelled 38kms so far. I tell myself that I won’t drive beyond 50kms. Past the potholed stretch, the road meanders down the slope into a valley; settlements become so sparsed that the natural beauty of Domboshava beckons, greeting me with a fresh, crisp, cool and relaxing air breeze. I look to my right and see a beautiful mountain range and at that moment I decide not to drive on. I drive off the road on to the side road, a safe distance away from the passing vehicles and grab my backpack and lock my cars doors and embark on mountain climbing.

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I ask a passer-by teenage boy the name of the place I was, he tells me the area is called Sasa in Domboshava Communal lands. He also tells me that the beautiful mountain range is called Ngomakurira Mountains; the name somehow rings a bell. Upon further enquiries the boy directs me to a closer mountain and advises that I will have a better view of the Ngomakurira Mountains, I do not question and embarked on my climb and I couldn’t agree more with the boy upon reaching the summit of the mountain.

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I spent next 3 hours of the day enjoying the peace, quiet and tranquil of Domboshava while enjoying the juicy Wild Loquats (an indigenous fruit with a tender brown skin covering the thick yellow tasty fluid found in abundance in Domboshava). That was my lunch. Took a sample of pictures with Ngomakurira in the background and later visited the area of my childhood accident. To my surprise it was dry, no water flowing for me to indulge in another skid. After enjoying the three hour stay in Domboshava with my adventure partner and wife Pamela, I drove back to Harare. So for just $20 fuel to and fro Domboshava, I comfortably enjoyed a December holiday gate-away on a Zimbabwean civil servant pay cheque.

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Speech Delivery: Spare A Thought For The Writer

Every speech writer’s wish is to have an eloquent, articulate and audacious person read their speech.  As a Speech Writer myself, I have always found joy, satisfaction and professional fulfillment when someone with vivid stage presence and oratory tact reads my speeches.  I quickly think of how my boss and former Kwekwe Polytechnic Principal Mr J.C Mbudzi, described in one media story as a person ‘with a towering personality’, would chew away words in speeches with breath-taking exuberance in a way that always massages my ego. I always found myself unconsciously smile with pride as I attentively followed their speeches.

Of note is the fact that speeches are usually read at festive and cheerful occasions where many would prefer nothing but fun.  Speeches usually steal away that fun, hence the need of preparing a good speech and equally important; having a good speech presenter. Fully aware of the audiences’ dislike for speeches more often than not, Speech Writers have a tendency of throwing in one or two mischievous quotes or add some deliberate tongue twisting verbosity just to spice up things a little. A good Speech Presenter/Reader can take advantage of these writers’ techniques to captivate the audience’s attention right to the end of the speech using an articulate and thunderous voice delivery, synonymous with good public speakers.

Conversely, timid speech readers usually have shaky and ambiguous voices that are so watered down that drive audiences to fidget, whisper or even take the opportunity to visit the rooms of convenience.

It is in this vein that I imagine how much George Charamba (Zimbabwe’s Former President’s Press Secretary) would have enjoyed as the former President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe so articulately read his speeches with that distinct Zimbo-British accent of his. What would catch my attention the most was the introduction to his speeches.

First, there would be those 15 seconds or so of silence, (an austere, awe inspiring and dignified wait that rose audience anticipation and curiosity); followed by a distant sound of shuffling papers and finally, the much awaited cracking voice beams. . .

  • “Cde E.D Mnangagwa & Amai (what struck me the most is the lackadaisical dragging of the word Amai)
  • Cde Phelekezela Mphoko & Amai (and the deliberate pause after every salutation, which I suspect was done for effect if not, then it could have been an consequence of age, but all the same it was effective in captivating the audience attention or if I’m to speak for myself, it kept me glued to the TV Screen).
  • Speaker of the House of Assembly
  • Our Service Chiefs here present (as the camera zooms in on the stern faced military men with medals dangling on the left side of their uniforms)
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Ladies & Gentlemen
  • Cdes & Friends” (and after the final salutation, then the thunderous voice ensues with that familiar polished English accent which I have no doubt is an envy of many)

“I feel very humbled to . . .”

This is the time that I wish i was the videographer and turn the camera towards George Charamba and capture the expected expression of joy on his face as the old man read out the speech with a natural eloquence and exuberance. And this feeling marks the climax in the satisfaction of every speech writer.

Read More on Continue reading “Speech Delivery: Spare A Thought For The Writer”

Mbudzi’s footprints in education will remain indelible

Mbudzi’s footprints in education will remain indelible

June 14, 2018

Learnmore Nyoni
A sombre atmosphere engulfed Kwekwe Polytechnic campus last Friday when sad news started to filter in that the former and longest serving principal of the college, Mr Joyce Cephas Mbudzi, had passed on.

The news of the death of Mr Mbudzi was so devastating that the lectures had to be temporarily suspended as both staff and students reflected on the harsh reality that one of the institution’s greatest icons was no more.

Mr Mbudzi retired from his post as principal in July 2017 after serving the college for almost 20 years.

The educationist who is survived by four children and five grandchildren, was given a huge send off when he retired as his farewell party was graced by almost all polytechnics and teachers’ colleges principals as well as several heads of industrial training centres.

Mr Mbudzi himself described the party as the largest gathering that the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education commanded outside formal programmes.

Born on June 26, 1950, in Masvingo under Chief Charumbira, Mr Mbudzi worked relentlessly to see the transformation of higher and tertiary education in Zimbabwe, especially at polytechnics.

Inspired by his not so rosy past, where some of his siblings had to quit school so that his poor family could concentrate on him in as far as school fees was concerned, Mr Mbudzi worked hard to ensure that all underprivileged children got a decent education.

Mr Mbudzi had to abandon his love for Mathematics and Sciences to pursue a teacher training course at Gweru Teachers’ College, which did not require any fees.

It explains probably why he was so close to his last born daughter, Rumbidzai, who then lived her father’s dream by training as a medical doctor.

Mr Mbudzi always said he was happy that his young girl achieved what he wished to achieve but circumstances would not allow him.

Rumbidzai and her siblings described Mr Mbudzi as a “Helicopter Dad” as he was always overprotective when it came to the welfare of his children.

Mrs Mbudzi’s younger sister, Willia, once accused Mr Mbudzi of being overprotective and too firm. She said she had to sneak out every time she wanted to meet the man who later became her husband, the former Director of Central Intelligence Organisation, Happyton Bonyongwe.

I first met the man Joyce Mbudzi in February of 2010, just a few days after joining Kwekwe Polytechnic’s National and Strategic Studies department as a lecturer when he summoned me to his office to assign me the role of ensuring that I come up with a plan to build the image of the institution.

His major aim was to see an aggressive marketing of the Bachelor of Technology degree in polytechnics, the first of which was started by him at Kwekwe Polytechnic.

I am proud that I was up to the task, from the day I assumed the new office in the department of information. I automatically became his de facto press officer, tasked with the responsibility of seeing that his vision to transform the institution got a wide national and international appeal.

I am contented that as Mr Mbudzi lies silently in his grave, he is a happy man after seeing the success in our publicity plan with the polytechnic degree programme attracting international appeal and recognition which resulted in him scooping so many awards both locally and internationally.

In my introductory meeting with him, I quickly realised three of his major qualities that I will never forget. He was a visionary; he was a brave goal getter who was very aggressive in achieving his vision. His leadership was results-oriented; he had a sweet tongue and sharp brains.

He was not apologetic for what he believed in. I remember attending an Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) meeting with polytechnic principals, vice chancellors of universities and other members from the Ministry of Higher Education where they grumbled after he delivered his presentation on the role played by polytechnics in developing the economy through import substitution.

He told the meeting that university degrees were useless, arguing that most university graduates were selling airtime on the streets while polytechnic graduates were coming up with tangible solutions for the development of the economy. His words did not go down well with his peers but he was was not deterred because he believed in what he was saying. He was unpopular with many people for saying it as it is.

In our first strategic planning meeting facilitated by motivational speaker Mr Milton Kamwendo at Ancient City Lodge in Masvingo, Mr Mbudzi told his management team that everything was achievable if one puts his mind to the task.

He said: “I brought you here, to the Great Zimbabwe monuments which has acquired world heritage site status but were built by ordinary men so that you see that extra-ordinary things are done by ordinary men.”

I was to see the motivational speaker Mr Kamwendo taking motivational notes from Mr Mbudzi as he addressed the delegates.

I am very sure that many lecturers who had a chance to work with Mr Mbudzi developed academically as he always challenged them.

Towards the end of his career in education, I was tasked to do a documentary on his life and work. In one of the interviews, former tertiary education programmes director in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technological Development Mr John Dewah said what he will miss most about Mr Mbudzi was his ability to speak his mind regardless of how his audience would receive it.

His actual words were, “Our meetings will never be the same without him. He would say out his mind without fear.”

In another interview, Tafara, Mr Mbudzi’s first born son described his father as a caring and loving father who was always home to spend time with his family.

His footprints in the Ministry of Higher Education will remain indelible for having pushed against all odds, for the adoption of competency based training in Zimbabwe and also the introduction of degrees in polytechnics.

Mr Mbudzi was one bold risk taker; he took down anything in the way of his vision. I remember when he was appointed the acting director of quality assurance in the Ministry of Higher Education, in no time he single-handedly and boldly so, changed the whole polytechnic curriculum making practical coursework to constitute 60 percent and final exam 40 percent, a system still functional in polytechnics today.

Strangely, behind that bravado, aggressiveness and assertiveness of this academic lay a loving, kind and caring soul but only visibly to those that were close to him. Whether it was kindness or cowardice of him, many lecturers knew that they could only win Mr Mbudzi if they confronted him in his office but they had to do so respectfully.

Mr Mbudzi will be remembered for his integrity, commitment to duty, his drive for Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and love to see the upliftment of the underprivileged.

He was stern, assertive, articulate, self-motivated and sharp.

Rest in eternal peace Comrade, you fought a good fight “Dr TVET”, you will forever be remembered.

GML employees down tools

GML employees down tools

DISGRUNTLED workers at Kwekwe-based mining explosives firm, GML Explosives, formerly Dyno, Nobel Zimbabwe, downed their tools in protest over unpaid wages.

BY LEARNMORE NYONI

“We have not been getting consistent salaries for the past 10 years and when we did receive the salaries they were 70% of what we were supposed to get. We did not know for which month we were receiving the salaries,” Fanuel Gadziwa, GML workers committee chairperson, said.

Gadziwa accused his fellow employees and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) officials Emmanuel Chikohora and Snowman Nyati of siding with GML managing director Jairos Mushirivindi.

Zimbabwe Chemical and Plastic Allied Workers Union (ZCPAWU) president Nyati said: “I am no there. I don’t even know there is a strike. They didn’t tell me of any grievances, I mean the workers committee chairperson, they are doing things improperly. I cannot expect a salary when the company is not producing.”

ZFTU secretary for policy implementation and research and ZCPAWU national organising secretary Jacob Mupeti said Nyathi was not serving workers’ interests.

“Two company vehicles, a tractor and a forklift are at Nyathi’s house. He can’t claim to be serving the interests of the workers when he is on the side of the Croatian investors. He is working with Mushivirindi. He is also 72 years old and should have been retired years, back but he is still with the company because he is serving the interests of the owners.”

Allegations which Nyati denied.

Mushirivindi could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print as his mobile phones were continuously unreachable.

The matter took a political twist as the Zimbabwe Federation Trade Union (ZFTU) took over and chanted Zanu PF slogans before addressing the workers.

Founded in 1990 as a technology transfer joint venture between the Swedish and Zimbabwean governments through the Industrial Development Corporation, the company became locally-owned in September 2007 before being taken over by Croatian investors in 2014.

GML has monopoly over the production of civil explosives in Zimbabwe and it serves the metallurgical and civil construction industries. The company also imports and sells explosive accessories such as detonating cords, igniter cords and fuses.

Veteran educationist Mbudzi dies

Veteran educationist Mbudzi dies

VETERAN educationist and former principal of Kwekwe Polytechnic, Cephas Mbudzi, has died aged 66.

By Learnmore Nyoni

According to close family members, Mbudzi succumbed to diabetes and kidney complications at the weekend.

An educationist, farmer and family man, Mbudzi is survived by four children and five grandchildren.

He retired from the public service in August last year, ending an illustrious 45-year career in the education sector.

He was so passionate about education that colleagues labelled him “Doctor TVET”, for his profound interest in Technical Vocational Education and Training, and was instrumental in the design and setting up of TVET degrees in polytechnics.

Mbudzi started his education career as a secondary school mathematics teacher at Chibi High School in 1972, before joining Gweru Teachers College as a curriculum studies lecturer 10 years later.

He was one of founding members of the Zimbabwe Intergrated Teacher Education Course (ZINTEC) programmes in 1981 at Masvingo Teachers College, where he was vice-principal.

He later worked as vice-principal of Chinhoyi Technical Teachers College and Mutare Polytechnic for six years, after which he joined Kwekwe Polytechnic, where he worked until his retirement.

Mbudzi sat on various regional educational boards such as the Sadc technical committee on certification and accreditation, Sadc regional framework and quality assurance, country representative on the Sadc technical Committee on TVET, Sadc open and distance learning technical committee and the national steering committee of the Zimbabwe Qualifications Framework, among others.

During his stint at Kwekwe Polytechnic, he won many local and international awards for propelling the institution to gain international
recognition.

Kwekwe Polytechnic acting principal Callisto Muzongondi described Mbudzi as an astute academic, whose footprints in the higher education sector were indelible.

“We surely have lost a very polished academic and firm believer in the TVET system. We join Mrs Mbudzi, the family and the nation at large in mourning this selfless leader who gave his all in the transformation and development of polytechnic education in Zimbabwe,” he said.

“We will never forget his work which remains etched in our minds and hearts forever. It is a great loss both to myself, the institution and the nation at large.”

Family friend and fellow academic, Mary Mapanga described Mbudzi as an academic par excellence and his death as a loss to the nation.

“He was a pillar of strength for his family and a reservoir of knowledge for his workmates and students. It’s a great loss for his family, friends and colleagues, to the education fraternity and the nation as a whole,” she said.

Govt urged not to forget local business

ZIMBABWE National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) is worried about the increased focus by government on foreign direct investment (FDI) while neglecting local businesses that endured the tumultuous economic era of yesteryear.

BY LEARNMORE NYONI

Speaking at the ZNCC Midlands annual dinner and business awards ceremony held at the Village Lodge in Gweru recently, ZNCC Midlands region vice-president Julian Mashavakure said government must not neglect local businesses.

“While there is excitement about the prospects of increased FDI inflows, employment creation and economic revival, our cry as business is that please don’t forget us,” he said.

“After all, we were in the trenches together. We did all we could as business to ensure that this economy moves forward during those dark days when the country was shun by investors. We soldiered on.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ diplomatic offensive has seen hordes of investors showing interest in various sectors of the economy scrambling to pen investment deals.

This has, however, come at a cost to local businesses which fear that the increased interest in foreign investors may see local businesses being shouldered out of competition by huge capital foreign investments.

While local entrepreneurs commend the government’s move to attract FDI to grow the economy it feels, however, that there was need to protect local businesses against foreign competition.

In the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries composite Business Confidence Index released last month, industry reported losing confidence in the current administration due to its failure to assist them.

The report said the government’s failure to assist manufacturers experiencing challenges in making payments to their foreign suppliers was worrisome.

Solomon Matsa, the managing director of Matsa Energy LPG and Solar and Memory Mugadza a pharmacist who has been running her own pharmacy Joy Pharmacy since 2011 scooped the Businessman and Businesswoman of the Year respectively at the awards.

Kwekwe Polytechnic acting principal engineer Callisto Muzongondi won the Tertiary Entrepreneurial Initiative award, while Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution won best the Public Enterprise award.

Govt pressed to fund investment feasibility studies

INDUSTRY ministry officials have been urged to undertake or fund investment feasibility studies to avoid conflict of interest and the falsification of project costs by investors.

BY LEARNMORE NYONI

Click the link below to read the full story Govt pressed to fund investment feasibility studies

https://www.newsday.co.zw/2018/04/govt-pressed-to-fund-investment-feasibility-studies/