I come from one of the most remote areas of Zimbabwe – a small town called Binga.It is located in Matebeleland North along the Southern Zambezi Escarpment.It is a hidden gem , an epitome of cultural heritage.A place where morals never go out of fashion, a place where hardwork and dedication are the order of the day.A place where great minds and great ideas are born but not recognised.
I remember when my parents took me to boarding school in Bulawayo which is the second capital city of Zimbabwe.I was so excited to experience new beginnings in a city with robots and tall buildings after spending my primary school years in a secluded area.I met new friends when I got there.Some from humble beginnings and some from prominent homes .Under such circumstances pressure to conform was insurmountable .I mean who wants to hear about a secluded place in the middle of nowhere?At first people would ask where I am from and I’d quickly answer with a smile 😀” I am from Binga”.The reactions I got after that were quiet shocking .Some responded saying “Where is that?”,Some just said “ooh😲 you mean that place where people live in trees with giant baboons!”.
After getting so many different reactions from people I lost confidence in talking about where I am from.l’d just mumble when people popped the question because I wasnt sure of what other reaction I was going to get.Before I left for Bulawayo I was content with that one tarred main road that we have back home.The very small library where we would borrow books from and never return them. The one and only small Agribank which civil servants would board buses for just to get their salaries.In contrast, Bulawayo had so many roads, banks and tall buildings.Of course I am not trying to compare the second largest city of Zimbabwe to a small town in the middle of nowhere.This is me trying to show you how much I felt out of touch with reality , almost like a “Jane- comes- to -town” kinda scenario. Due to Binga’s remoteness, we where always the last ones to catch up with new trends. It got me thinking, where should I really say am from?
Then I came back to myself and I realized that there was something that other fancy places do not have that Binga actually has.Where I am from there are beautiful hot springs which are one of the most untamed natural attractions in the country, hot water literally boils from the ground.It is the only place where a sand beach which stretches for about a kilometre naturally occurs.Where I am from there is a crocodile farm with over 40 000 crocodiles which provides quality meat and skins to local and overseas market .In Binga, fish is our gold.With over 17 fishing co-orperatives, it prides itself in providing fresh tasty fish that people from different destinations in Zimbabwe come to buy for daily consumption and resell .It is a place where basketry, beadwork and woodcarving are almost like inborn skills to the BaTonga people.
Yes! Binga is small ,you can almost know everyone and their business but that’s what makes it easy for us to stick together.I can safely say its remoteness is actually a blessing in disguise because over the years as technology has evolved and the world is constantly mutating- The culture and values of our people have remained unpolluted.For so long we have let perceptions define who we are and yet there is so much more that Binga has to offer.So many untold truths and yet so many myths.For so many years we have tried to fit in, trying to learn other people’s languages because ours is considered a minority language.When we meet in MaShonaland we act like we belong there.In Bulawayo we will bite our tongues trying to speak IsiNdebele so they don’t see we don’t belong with them.Assimilation is slowly becoming a form of art.
Let me tell you something .What makes Binga a home for me is not how many skyscrapers we don’t have but it’s about the great people and the beautiful culture that we actually do have.It remains a place where we celebrate life because of who we are and not what we have.By the grace of God it will become a major tourist attraction in the country when right investors come along, it will develop into one of the major towns but in the meantime let’s embrace our culture because that is our DNA.Binga has so many entrepreneurs, engineers and teachers that the world needs to witness but because of stereotypes, financial contraints and lack of mentorship- they never go far.
I am proud to say I am from Binga.I am not ashamed to speak ChiTonga because that’s a big part of me.If I dont talk about where I am from no one will speak for me.If I don’t confidently talk about the beautiful resources that Binga carries I’ll be robbing her of the glory that she deserves.Nommatter how educated or prominent I may become, home is where the heart is.To all the BaTonga people I want to end by saying;
“ATUSUMPULE BUTONGA BWESU “- let’s uplift our Tonga culture!