The Sunday Mail
BEING the youngest of the brood was an inexorably ignominious curse for the Bishop.
It meant he had to be at everyone’s beck and call, even for the most menial and tedious of tasks such as minding the eternally truant and restless village goats, especially during the cropping season.
Bishop Lazi can confidently say no task is as exhausting and mentally taxing as trying to keep those little tormenting creatures in check.
Tired of chasing and following the problem animals around, some folks came up with what they thought was an ingenious plan — tethering them to the thickets or trees from which they would graze.
It never worked.
No sooner would the goats be tethered than they would entangle themselves into an intricate knot and start irritatingly bleating to no end. Nxa!
Either way, you couldn’t win.
It was just an extreme sport, as everything in the village is.
For the Bishop, however, there was an equally extreme sport during the cropping season: Leading yoked cattle by the rope halter while ploughing the fields, which was usually a task reserved for the youngest family member.
You see, back in the day, on Bishop Lazarus’ grandfather’s farm, these were no ordinary cattle as they were kept in paddocks and, therefore, were not exactly as tame as one would have liked.
Suffice to say, it was spine-chillingly intimidating leading these monstrous beasts.
It was quite diametrically different from the “sexy” job of being the one manoeuvring the plough, especially at the end of the field when one had to dexterously leverage on the tensioned chain linking the yoke to the plough to hoist this metallic implement and simultaneously position it for the final plunge to begin making another furrow.
It was an exhilarating stunt that everyone desperately wanted to be a part of.
But, when these cruising monsters became tired, it was time to call it quits, and trying to push them a tad too much, as was often the case in trying to cover as much ground as possible, always ended disastrously.
Countless times, a dazed Bishop Lazi found himself on his back as the revolting beasts bolted, with the abandoned plough flailing behind.
Most often than not, the oxen unyoked themselves by breaking the wooden hames (zvikeyi), which shows how huge these animals were.
To ensure that work seamlessly continued without being bogged down by inordinate delays, there was always a need for a continuous supply of ready-made wooden hames.
Again, the task fell on Bishop Lazarus.
However, although making them — which meant hewing and carving them out of wood — was tedious, exacting and very demanding, the artistic process was inherently enjoyable.
The job demanded precision because the wooden hames had to snugly fit in gaping holes in the yoke in which they were slotted.
This is among the countless range of skills the Bishop picked up in the village, where one necessarily had to be self-reliant.
You learn many things in the village.
You learn the art of brick-making, scything grass and thatching rooftops.
You learn how to be a blacksmith.
But, most importantly, you learn insightful practical life skills that make you mentally agile and a problem-solver.
Proverbs 22:29 reminds us: “Do you see a man skilful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” (Proverbs 10:4)
Bishop Lazi was reflecting on these nostalgic episodes when he was trying to make sense of how the much-talked-about late Ginimbi managed to transform himself from an uneducated skinny little 17-year-old village boy to one of the richest young men around at 36, even as his educated peers continue to aimlessly pace up and down the streets looking for hard-to-come-by jobs.
Was it his village background that gave him the drive and agility to swim among Zimbabwe’s corporate sharks and climb to the top of the food chain?
Conversely, did our education system curse our people with big brains and small sense that they cannot materially change their circumstances for the better?
In November 1999, after an exhaustive inquiry, educationist Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga instructively recommended the overhaul of the local education system, which he claimed was academically good but irrelevant for locals.
He could not have been more accurate.
Well, what is the use of producing a graduate who intimately knows the anatomy of a grasshopper — God knows for what purpose — but cannot tend a vegetable garden? Kikikiki.
Frustrated by the type of creatures that were being churned out by local institutions, Cde Robert Mugabe quipped in October 2013: “Nhasi uno vana vanosvika Form Four vagoenda Form Six, vagoenda kuuniversity vasingazivi kana kuruka, kuveza mupini. Practical subjects had lost attention in our curriculum. Mwana anopedza secondary (school) asingazivi kuti kana garden rinoitwa sei?”
This is why he introduced that infamous Psycho-motor portfolio to try to cure the aberration. Kikikiki.
What made it worse is that our system continued to produce fat bookworms that were fed on a diet of rote learning, which emphasises memoralisation rather than problem-solving, practical application, innovation, thought leadership and experimentation.
It is, therefore, not surprising that we have supposed academics that flaunt lofty honorifics such as doctor, professor and engineer on social media who seem to specialise in trolling perceived critics.
Yet in China you have a fresh-faced recently graduated software engineer, Zhang Yiming, who has established a software developer — ByteDance — that has revolutionarised the world through TikTok, a video-sharing networking service that has taken the world by storm, Zimbabwe included.
The 36-year-old Yiming — same age with Ginimbi — is now estimated to be worth more than a jaw-dropping US$16 billion, which makes him one of China’s 10 richest people.
Over the decades, Beijing’s rising economic might has been built on the back of agile and aggressive young entrepreneurs.
Chinese engineer Liu Chuanzhi, for example, started up by bicycling up and down selling watches and sandals before establishing his company Lenovo in 1984, which is now worth more than US$32 billion and is competing with the world’s biggest electronic manufacturers.
In the same year, a young man Wang Shi who lived in Shenzhen started off buying and selling maize.
He progressively established Vanke, which has since evolved into one of the largest residential real estate developers in China worth a staggering US$36 billion.
China deliberately created its billionaires by priming them to take advantage of local opportunities, the same way President ED has deliberately handed economic opportunities to local companies.
There is no doubt that the Harare-Beitbridge road rehabilitation project has provided rich pickings for local firms, who are likely to develop the wherewithal and capacity to carry out more future projects.
The country has saved a fortune, which could ordinarily have enriched some foreigners.
The same could be said of the dam construction projects, where local engineers are becoming increasingly involved.
This is how future millionaires and billionaires are minted.
Government has already hinted through the National Development Strategy 1 that it will crowd in youths in the country’s developmental agenda, and we hope this will entail unveiling Prof Mthuli Ncube’s dream of a venture capital fund to provide “patient capital” for budding young entrepreneurs, whose creative energies need to be released.
The fact that our streets are always lined up by all manner of vendors show the indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit in our people, particularly the young.
That spirit, which lives in many other youths who have the same drive and agility such as Ginimbi’s, needs to be tapped and channelled.
Juju doesn’t create wealth — hard work does.
Such beliefs have been forged by age-old stereotypes that have been wired in blacks that they cannot possibly amount to anything without stealing, corruption or conjuring dark forces.
It needs to be unlearned and replaced by a renaissance in thought and beliefs.
It is time we make our big brains make big sense by conceiving the seemingly inconceivable. Bishop out!