Tongogara Refugee Camp Field Day Ceremony

By Trust Bvaranga
Agriculture is regarded as the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy. This was shown at a Maize Field Day commemoration which was held in Tongogara Refugee Camp. I coincidentally witnessed the event. I heard a tender feminine voice of ululation from a distance. Then, I drifted closer and, as I drew close, I saw people dancing. At first I thought it was a roadshow. However, the signage showed me it was something to do with agriculture. Bunches of men and women were coming to witness the ceremony.

The Disk Jokers played some African songs. On the stage, a dancer moved dexterously and briskly. People started to throw money on the stage as a way of expressing their gratitude. It moved me; music is the soul of heart; where there is music there is life. The DJs played a mix of African music, catering to the hosts and the refugee community farmers.

In a split-second, the authorities stopped the music and a man gave a short speech. Farmers from the host community and refugee camp were as happy as jaybirds, awaiting their awards. The humanitarian organisations that masterminded the event presented awards that included wheelbarrows, knapsacks, fertilizers, empty bags, hoes, mattocks, and tee-shirts. The event was spearheaded by the United Nations Higher Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) and World Vision. UNHCR, World Vision, and some Agriculture Extension officers announced the results of their survey, observing that Lizzy and few other farmers had bumper harvests, bigger than those of other farmers.

Lizzy, from a host community, won the competition. This was a great achievement for a woman to win the highest award. She received a wheelbarrow, a knapsack and a bag of fertilizer. Other successful farmers received single items such as wheelbarrows, knapsacks and etcetera. Meanwhile, the kingpins of the event told the DJ to continue playing music. The congregants were in merriness as we listened to music and watched the dancers attentively.

Farming is salient in Zimbabwe, a fact that I witnessed when various non-governmental groups acted conjointly to ensure food nutritional availability in the camp and surrounding communities. We enjoyed eating the boiled green cobs. I really admire the profession of agriculture when it can deliver such value.

A sombre mood engulfed the farmers who had not performed well. They were melancholy and gazed enviously at winners. The trophy was taken by a woman, Lizzy, and men remained aloof. As I was taking pictures, I saw a wrinkled old grown-up woman sheding tears. It really touched me. She had not performed well. Others were sheding tears of joy.

Without further ado, the weather changed. The cumulonimbus clouds rose and sent warning of heavy rains. The bigwigs of the event ordered the drivers to ferry attendees to safer places. When we got to the hotel big drops of water began to hit the roofs, with a sound that horrified everyone. Actually, it did not rain but it poured. The rattling and cluttering of thunderstorms sent a death message. It was so intimidating, a slay queen dropped her IPhone while answering a call, fearing the lighting that often accompanies a thunderstorm. In the blink of an eye, intermittent rivers were flowing. Minutes later, the rain subsided and stopped. Eventually, the intermittent rivers dried up.

After we settled in again, the waiters gave us food. The luscious flavor of the food blew off my saliva. Every individual received a meal of his or her choice. For myself, I requested sadza. The food was mouthwatering. Every Tom and Jerry ate the food. As a journalist I have a lot to tell. The field day was quite fascinating.

25 April, 2023