IT was tears of joy and emotional pain at St Augustine’s High School last Saturday as the Girls of Substance Movement from various high schools in Manicaland jubilantly received high profile cabinet ministers’ hugs and cuddles.
These were earned in support of the girls’ touching vows and promises to fight drug and substance abuse, student prostitution and other forms of untoward behaviour.
The girls presented no-holds-barred speeches appealing for support for the movement which they intend to use as an advocacy vehicle to push the agenda of behavioural transformation in schools, colleges and universities in Zimbabwe.
The girls painfully chronicled their vulnerability and ordeals at the hands of a predatory male onslaught, especially in colleges and universities.
One of the girls, Tariro Kadzura, said universities had become a war-zone of sexual abuse and bravely appealed for the intervention of the First Lady and the cabinet ministers present.
“We look up to you to support the Girls of Substance Movement which is the custodian of our hope. We cannot survive this tragedy of organised sexual abuse tantamount to institutional rape, alone,” she said. “Please help us because as it is, we are, most of us, certainly studying for the grave.”
The girls were unequivocal in their lamentations some of them admitting they too needed to guard against wilful wayward behaviour which they frankly acknowledged was compounded by lack of character-insulating moral values or Ubunthu/Hunhu.
The girls literally and visibly cried and appealed for prompt intervention from the First Lady’s Angel of Hope Foundation saying their hope was in the elderly women of substance led by Amai Mnangagwa and her team of women of substance.
They saluted Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who was standing in for Amai Mnangagwa, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba for active participation in the war of liberation that freed them.
The mother-daughter relationship the girls of substance were appealing for in their emotive speeches was soon symbolised by a brief emotional candle lighting ceremony led by Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Cde Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also the Zanu PF national chairman lighted the candles which the girls received to symbolise their faithful receipt of the substance in them and promised to keep the fire burning.
Then the passionate hugs, the smiles and the tears of joy! What a poignant climax to a day characterized by unbelievable mother and daughter engagement!
The Girls of Substance Movement is a programme spearheaded by the Cross Roads Africa, a trust organisation founded by this writer to address the tragedy of loss of Ubunthu/Hunhu in schools, colleges and universities.
It is a movement organised to curb student prostitution, abuse of substances and narcotic drugs and other forms of celebrations of moral decay in these institutions.
Mtisi appealed to the First Lady and the Women of Substance present to invest their motherly ears, eyes, hearts, warm love and care in the girls so openly willing to turn a leaf of behavioural transformation.
“The war of moral rearmament is a complex and difficult war. We cannot fight it alone. That is why in our approach of involving the students themselves as part of the solution delicately involves the church for intimate pastoral guidance.
“The girls also need your guiding hands…to hold them and show them the light and the way along the difficult, rough and frightening way.
“Please, please, please I beg you. Support this cause with everything and anything you can! If we are not careful, the known vulnerability, the catastrophic peer pressure, the drugs, the beer, the student prostitution and other forms of behavioural insanity will create mad sex maniacs . . . thoughtless nymphomaniacs, intelligent thieves, intelligent criminals and unpatriotic citizens for the country,” he said.
The event ran under the theme: “WOMEN MATTER! FROM GIRLS OF SUBSTANCE TO WOMEN OF SUBSTANCE”
The launch of the Angel of Hope Foundation and Girls of Substance Movement was done in the backdrop of celebrating the memories of the late Cde Tendai Pfepferere, who was brutally and coldly killed by Rhodesian enemy forces on the mission soil on August 5, 1979.
The late war hero gave his life to save the lives of students at St Augustine’s.
The occasion was also organised in memory of Father Keble Prosser, a brave and God-fearing CR Anglican priest who loved Africans and suffered with them all his life at St Augustine’s Mission, but most importantly supported the war of liberation with his own life.
Both heroes are interred at the mission cemetery side by side as if to confirm the truth that the Zimbabwean war of liberation was not about and against colour, but against a system that was used by those that regarded themselves superior to another.
Fr Prosser requested that his remains be brought back to Zimbabwe to be buried at Tsambe, the place that he loved dearly and lived almost all his life…buried opposite Cde Tendai Pfepferere whom he interred on August 5, 1979 as if to say, ‘Here we are now! We were in it together!’
Following the official launch of the Girls of Substance Movement, a memorial college shall be built on a piece of land kindly donated by the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland for that purpose. The movement shall be headquartered at St Augustine’s High School.