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Gokwe yazviita zvekare (Gokwe has done it again): Villagers explore reason behind meme

Partinella Ngozo

Gokwe has been portrayed as an area that lags behind in terms of technology, education, and development. In some instances, social media is awash with issues around witchcraft in Gokwe.

But what makes Gokwe portrayed in such situations? Community Voices Zimbabwe conducted a community dialogue at Gokwe Centre, at Mapfungautsi, and also in Chief Njelele’s area to gather the reasons behind all the memes that circulate on social media.

“Gokwe has always been under any oath of negativity since time immemorial. There is a place in Gokwe called Gandavaroyi where people believe this is where all the witches across the country are thrown so that they can be on their own. Secondly, this is the only place where radio stations were not accessible, and only got active in recent years. Also, Gokwe has been labeled as a place where there are no educated people. The difference between Masvingo, and Gokwe is huge, if a person says he originates from Masvingo it is known that he travels through a tarred road, and is educated, but when it comes to Gokwe, if someone loses goods to thieves, people from Gokwe are blamed, if a maid, or garden boy do something silly, he or she is said to have originated from Gokwe, because this is a place where there people who are behind in terms of knowledge

“But this lagging behind has resulted in too much exposure to some things to the extent that a garden will fall in love with the house owner. The exposure has become too much. This is what transpired in Gokwe, people took things in a different way than expected. This has caused the people of Gokwe to act in a manner that is not acceptable,” said Roy Matsa.

“What happens is that other people, for example those in Masvingo or Bikita search for people to rear their livestock here in Gokwe. Those from towns who are searching for housemaids do so in Gokwe. So that is why we are being portrayed as people who are behind. Someone in Mutare called me saying she was looking for a person who has a family to go and work in her fields, again they are searching here in Gokwe, so that is why we are behind.

“…adding to that sometimes people say it is all due to the way we dress. If we get in town people will say we are from Gokwe just by looking at our dressing. Everywhere we go, even if we get to Harare, they will just say we are from Gokwe. This is how they look down upon us. If we arrive in Mbare, everyone will just say these ones are from Gokwe, and they start shouting that Gokwe has arrived. There is no sign on us showing we are from Gokwe, but they can tell we are from Gokwe,” added Rossy Chari.

Gokwe is a laughingstock on social media with people from the area being described as illiterate. The discourse is difficult to ignore. Speaking during a community dialogue held by the Community Voices Zimbabwe in Gokwe under Chief Njelele’s area some villagers said despite all the negative connotations, Gokwe has become a developed area recently though long back it used to be behind largely with regards to education.

“That is true Gokwe has been described that way because long back education here on our side was scarce. This was long back, but now parents are now making sure that their children are being educated. Sometimes it is the picture that the media portray to the world because in other cases people here will be having fun doing magic, and other tricks, but in the media, it is portrayed differently. But looking in terms of people being educated and even development in Gokwe we are now at an advanced stage. So that mentality of portraying Gokwe as lagging behind is now invalid because even in high offices Gokwe people are now part of that. Probably it is only that the issues of witchcraft keep emanating, but in our area, we have never heard about that. We just hear that sometimes it happens from another area, but the media will just say it is Gokwe, and all of us become part of the narrative,” said Makanaka Hurutsa.

Speaking during one of the dialogues Deputy Mayor Charity Mungwani said she was pleased with the development projects that have been initiated in Gokwe, to uplift the area, and be in line with President Emerson Mnangagwa’s vision of Zimbabwe being an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

You have to appreciate that the council has been doing well to implement projects that benefit everyone in Gokwe. You used to walk long distances going to fetch water, but now through the council, there are boreholes constructed in each ward which is now easier for the majority of you to access water. Hospitals have now been built, and are now operating, probably the only challenge will be medication, a challenge that is affecting most clinics in the country. In terms of roads we now have better roads in Gokwe than in previous years,” she said.

However, a youth-based in Gokwe stated that there is still a need for development to reach the outskirts of Gokwe so that no one is left behind.

“The rate of development though it is noticeable there is a lot that needs to be done here in Gokwe. There are places that are not even accessible by vehicles because the road situation is unbearable. Furthermore, the people who reside in those places if they see you carrying groceries they think you have something out of this world. When they see you holding a phone they are amused, and wonder whether you will be carrying a portable television. So there is still a need for more development in Gokwe,” said Vaidah Nyaruwata.

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