Among the problems which have resulted from the Irrigation Schemes is the
breakdown of tribal disciplines through the traditional leaders, the chiefs and
the headmen: people have had to be brought in to the Schemes from many parts of
the country and this has resulted in a conglomeration of people with no united
purpose, single culture, discipline or social custom, and there is not the same
respect for tradition and authority on irrigation schemes that one finds in the
dry land areas.
There is also a big population pressure and it is impressive
that the 26 000 acres of Ngorima and Ndima support a population of approximately
10 000, who are moving very fast into a cash economy. Government assists with
the establishment of councils and co-operatives, and through Agricultural
Extension the crops best suited to the area and which will bring in the best
returns are being established. Farmers have done very well with a variety of
crops including coffee, pineapples, bananas, grains, vegetables and spices: one
farmer has succeeded in educating his children and has sent one to university in
England out of his profits.
Ngorima is the only T.T.L. in the Melsetter area to have a Council, and
it is having a struggle to function well: the Councillors have been taken on
leadership courses and to see functioning Councils in other areas, and while
they themselves are enthusiastic and keen on improvement, they find that the
people are not yet ready to accept radical changes and have to be educated
slowly. Chief Ngorima, the fifth in line, who was recently elected a Senator in
the Rhodesian Senate, is progressive, but finds that he cannot move faster than
his councillors will allow: if he goes too far ahead of them he may lose their
The other chiefs will not have Councils in their areas: their attitude,
and that of their people, is that the modern Government is European, and they
prefer that Europeans should continue to govern them. There is resistance to
their being ruled by their fellow tribesmen as they do not trust one another �
with some reason, as there have been many instances of people in executive
offices using public money for private purposes.
The Chiefs had great influence, but since their powers were restricted
after the advent of the Europeans they have become withdrawn and inclined to
consider that their main function is that of guardian arid custodian of
traditional customs. This has made them ultra-conservative and not interested in
promoting change. Government authorities are battling to prove to them the need
for beneficial proaress. Many of their people have travelled and lived in towns
and entered into activities which are different from the tribal ones, and these
people are apt to look down on their chiefs as insufficiently progressive.
In all the T.T.Ls. great developments have taken place with Government
assistance particularly since the last war. Before that there was resistance to
such things as modern medicine: the tribesman preferred to go to his nganga
whose ways and methods he understood, and even today he is happy to consult with
tribal spirits, the mondoro or Vadzimu, at every opportunity, particularly to
seek supernatural methods of treatment when modern methods have failed.
The early resistance was gradually overcome when modern methods showed a
quicker, easier and less painful cure: the prevention and cure of malaria and
the quick results of aspirin were much appreciated and injections have made a
great impression. It has come to be recognised that European medicine is
superior in many ways to treatment by the nganga and herbalists through the
tribal spirits, but there are well-known witchdoctors around here who are still
consulted on occasion.
Before the war there was resistance to education and many local schools
were only a third full. When encouraged to send their children to school, the
kraal heads and the parents said that they and their parents had managed
without education and they did not see why their children needed any. Sending
them to school would mean a great upset as each child had certain duties to
perform: the girls had to fetch water and wood and the boys had to herd the
goats and cattle, and if they went to school there would be nobody to do this
work. Sometimes when Government officials went round they found only the parents
at home � the children had been sent up into the hills to hide.
The need for education was felt first in the urban areas which cannot,
however, be isolated from the rural areas as there is constant communication
between them. When buses became regular there was much travelling between town
and country, and people who had seen something of life outside the tribal areas
realised the need for more education and literacy and brought home their ideas
and were assisted by returning soldiers who had seen service in other countries.
Other contributory factors were newspapers in the vernacular and the influence
of the radio.
After the war educational facilities developed rapidly in Melsetter.
Mainly under the Missions many primary schools were established and Secondary
Schools opened at Mutambara, Rusitu, Biriwiri and Nyanyadzi. 90% of the
children of the district can now get five years of schooling at least: there is
a fallout from Grade V and only those with marked ability can go forward to the
secondary schools, but the number going to Upper Primary Schools is probably
higher than in other districts, in spite of the fact that in a few very remote
areas little need is yet felt for any education.
With their religion of ancestor worship, individuals even today get
into situations where they feel that there is nothing that they themselves can
do, and go to their spirits to seek advice, although in some instances much of
the ritualistic preparation to ensure the proper approach to the spirits has
fallen into disuse because so many who were qualified to carry it out died
without passing on their knowledge. Recently chiefs have been criticised for not
carrying out the proper processes for propitiating the spirits, and some of
their ancient customs are being revived. When Chief Tamanewenyu of Muwushu died
in January 1970 every cockerel in the Reserve was slaughtered on the orders of
his son, one of the VaKuru.
Various animals, birds and insects are associated with the spirits and
are taboo and may not be killed or eaten.
In tribal custom the extended
family is still very strong with specific rules for individuals to inherit their
responsibility of looking after and caring for relations who may be left without
visible means of support. In 1968 there was some food shortage, and European
organisations handed out food to those who they considered were in most need of
it, without consulting the chiefs. This led to a certain amount of criticism, as
it was felt that the Europeans were breaking the custom of extended family
relationships, and if somebody breaks the cycle then the relatives consider that
they are no longer responsible for the person who has been supported by
There are seven Purchase Area farms in the District and these, under
title, are being developed satisfactorily. Most of the Tribal Trust Lands have
flourishing business centres, and in all road improvement has led to general
The forestry Companies carried on tree planting and expansion. All have
fire towers, and between them they have well over 1 000 miles of internal roads
built and being maintained. The Forestry Commission, Charter and Tilbury have
their own sawmills, and on Gwendingwe the sawmill is run by a sister Company, A.
C. Moore (Pvt.) Ltd., to whom the Estate delivers the logs and the further
handling is an independent process. Heavy timber lorries transport timber from
Melsetter to Umtali in a steady stream.
Melsetter�s appearance has changed with the coming of the Companies as
tree-clad hill-sides cover vast areas, but the magnificent views may still be
seen. Afforestation is established, and it is envisaged that industries based on
wood may follow. One snag appears in the sawmills� incinerators, which belch
forth smoke all day and night and spoil the lovely clear air.
The Rhodesian Wattle Co. is small by world standards, and when the
world extract market became oversupplied they considered ways of diversifying
and invested in cattle which are run on all the Estates: on Charleswood wattle
was given up entirely in favour of cattle and large acreages of maize grown as
feed. Sugarcane is grown on some Chipinga estates, and raw sugar is manufactured
at Silverstream factory during four months of the year, with the production of
wattle extract limited to the other eight months. In 1969 the Rhodesian Wattle
Company was bought by Lonrho Ltd.
The Forestry Commission has a Research Station at Muguzo, where forest
trees from all parts of the world are raised for experimental planting in
different parts of the district. Sample plots have been marked and measured on
Commission land and on most private forests.
On Charter Estates planting rates were increased from 1 500 to 5 500
acres a year spread over eight sections, each of which is managed by a European
forester and 50-180 Africans, with a Forest Officer in charge. Of the 34000
acres so far planted the principal species are Patula with up to 20% of
Elliottii and Taeda pine, and nearly 2000 acres of eucalypts, and a further 3
000 acres will be planted when all the suitable land is in production. The
purchase of further land extended Charter boundaries, and a slow consolidation
has resulted in a single large holding today of 45000 acres in the upper Nyahode
catchment, with Welgelegen a separate 6500 acres, and the Chartered Company is
the largest private timber grower in the country.
About $4 million has been invested, of which some $2,200,000 represents
plantations, and at maturity this figure will have risen to $8 to $10 million as
conventional sawmills keep pace with timber yields. The mill at Fairfield
processes three quarters, rising to one and a
quarter million cubic feet log input yearly derived principally from
thinnings; it yields mainly boxwood and the better processed building lumber
will follow in increasing proportion as the forests become older; and plans are
well advanced for sawmill stages advancing to two million cubes input by 1971,
and later to 7-8 million.
The General Manager of the autonomous Eastern Forest Estates directs forest
activity, and Charter has a staff of 18 Europeans, with the foresters supported
by a technical and administrative headquarter unit. 670 Africans are employed,
of whom 100, under three Europeans, run the sawmill. In 1965 the B.S.A. Co.
amalgamated with two mining financial companies and became Charter Consolidated,
and shortly afterwards Charter Forest Estates with other interests in Rhodesia
were sold to Anglo-American who are today responsible for control and
Tilbury Estate is a hive of activity and has a population of 12
European families and 560 African employees.
Gwendingwe Estate is divided into four sections each with its own
labour force, machines and headquarters: Headquarters section under the Manager
consists of administration, workshop, maintenance, repairs, houses and water
supplies; Brackenbury is self-sufficient under the Farm Manager and assistant;
Forestry has a Forest Manager and assistant; and the Orchard Manager runs his
section with his assistant. About 5 500 acres of pines, 1 000 acres of wattle,
and 200 acres of gums have been planted, and further planting is continuing.
In round figures 300 acres a year are felled and 400 planted, so that the
plantation will come into a sustained yield with the same number of trees being
felled and planted after 20 years, after which capital charges become
impossible; enormously heavy logs cost more to log; and with the trend towards
reconstituted board, finger-jointing and lamination, large diameters are not
desirable. With 17-year old trees logs are quite often 20� long with a 14� or
15� tip, and are difficult to handle especially in steep country.
Through the dry season two Europeans and about 50 Africans are on
standby fire duty, and the crews of the fire vehicles are on duty all the time:
they have their own compound and are always there, always familiar with the
routine, and always trained. To compensate for their long spell on duty they are
given two months� paid leave in the wet season, and seem very happy with the
Gwendingwe employs, with seasonal fluctuations, between 350 and 400,
and with their families the African population is between 600 and 800, and the
development of the compounds in the form of African villages is encouraged. Each
Section�s bossboy is the village headman and has the responsibility of seeing
that village life is organised on traditional lines and that the disciplines
which would guide their lives at home are observed.
The labourers tend to group into tribal or family groups, and go to work
with their own bossboy whose position is gradually enhanced as he grows older
and the younger men, who were children under him, come into his gang. This
system is working very well, and there is much visiting between the villages and
inter-village competition in sports and other activities.
The housing is round brick huts, cement-floored, and a family unit is
two living-huts and a kitchen-hut; a unit may also be occupied by four
bachelors, two sharing each of the living-huts, and cooking communally. Pay is
given in lieu of rations, but meat or fish is issued weekly. The trading store
is leased to outside interest. The Estate sells commercial African beer but has
not yet built a beerhall; no brewing is allowed, but the staff can buy as much
as they want: rather than all walking up to tbe centre, they usually send their
women along to bring back ten or twenty gallons to the village, where they then
have their own beerdrink.
The clinic is simply a casualty clearing station and ordinary clinic,
but has some facilities for inpatients with a female ward and some compound
units outside for men. The clinic has as a major aim a Family Planning campaign
and has plans for mothercraft and a wide range of child care and hygiene
training. It is supervised by Annabel Hayter who is a fully trained Sister, and
is run by an African nurse whose husband is a Public Health visitor based at
Gwendingwe and who also does public health work in Mutema Tribal Trust Land. A
tremendous number of patients come from Mutema, and as this is becoming a
problem a small fee may have to be charged.
There are about 90 pupils in the school, for which Gwendingwe Estate
supplies and maintains the buildings and pays for the equipment. The Government
pays the teachers and the school is supervised by Rusitu Mission. Education up
to Grade Five for the families of all employees is entirely free.