The Sunday Mail
COMMUNITY heroes are individuals who offer their courage, strength and self-sacrifice in the service of a neighbourhood, benefiting people who may never know them by name, but who will reap the rewards of their work.
If local communities were to introduce Community Hero Awards, whose purpose would be to recognise and celebrate key individuals and groups that would have demonstrated the highest degree of dedication to their communities, the Kuwadzana Extension community in Harare would, without doubt, bestow that honour on Anesu Gabaza.
Gabaza is a local resident who has dug deep into his pockets and installed solar tower lights following a spate of muggings and murders on local residents.
The installation of five solar tower lights has transformed the lives of the grateful locals. Since the first residents occupied houses in this suburb some 23 years ago, street lights were never installed, resulting in residents being robbed and mugged in the suburb’s unlit streets.
Robbers often target those residents that would have been coming home from work. Following the installation of the lights, local residents say the muggings and break-ins that were so rampant have since stopped.
Not only has the crime rate been reduced, locals can now conduct their businesses late into the night without fear of being robbed.
Simon Dhliwayo, a brick maker, is one of the locals who is immensely benefitting from Gabaza’s benevolence.
“Before the installation of this tower light, I used to close my business as early as 5pm. Since this place is now well-lit, we are conducting our business until 10pm,” Dhliwayo, who operates his business near Bulawayo Road, said.
Moreblessings Matanga, a vendor, says her sales have improved following the installation of the tower lights.
“I have extended my business hours to as late as 9pm. Since the installation of the lights, not a single person was robbed in this area. I am truly grateful for what this young man has done,” Matanga said.
The same words of gratitude were said by Mrs Auxillia Muranda, a tuck-shop owner.
“This particular area used to be a dark spot and we often heard cries of people who were being robbed. Thanks to this tower light, I have extended my business hours up to 10pm. The installation of the light has made life easier for all of us,” Mrs Muranda said.
The most striking thing about Gabaza, who is a director of an established technology company, Yaowei Technology, is his humility. Despite that he has the means to move to an upmarket suburb, “Judge”, as Gabaza is fondly known by locals, has elected to stay put in Kuwadzana Extension.
“This suburb is my home and my life. I grew up here, went to the nearby Dzivaresekwa High 2 and I know almost all of the locals of my age. We are brothers and sisters.”
Each year, Gabaza’s birthday celebrations become a community event as locals converge at an open space to wine and dine. Last year, hundreds of people converged at an open space near Pamuzinda as they celebrated with one of their own.
Food and drink, which Gabaza provided, flowed freely.
Budding artistes also record their music for free at a recording studio owned by Gabaza. A Christian, Gabaza says he draws his inspiration from the Bible.
“Jesus is the perfect example of how we should live our lives. The Bible tells us to give and to love one another. In donating the lights, I was merely practicing what I believe in,” Gabaza said.
Working with a Chinese partner, Gabaza said he is in the process of setting up a US$15 million solar panel manufacturing plant.
“I was in China and I was amazed by what I saw. Since we are experiencing electricity challenges, solar energy is the way to go. In this regard, we are in the process of setting up a solar panel manufacturing plant that will create employment for locals,” Gabaza said.
There is no doubt that Gabaza is a truly inspiring individual who is giving so much to the local community, a hero of our time.