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to "Cultural values promoting the spread of HIV and AIDS"
June 29, 2005
This is a
response to an article writen by Spiwe Chikosi titled "Cultural
values promoting the spread of HIV and AIDS"
I am an indigenous
pastor and with a fair detail of the BaTonga cultures and tradition.
I work very closely with most stakeholders in the health fraternity
including the MOH itself. This comment is not just an emotional
reaction or defensive criticism, but I believe it may save to correct
many cultural misconceptions outsiders (of Binga) have concerning
the BaTonga, and prevent further cultural slander perpetrated by
poor research mechanisms employed by some visiting officers of some
Thank you, reporter for your interest in helping the BaTonga eschew
"perceived extinction" due to HIV and AIDS. However, your
- Carries a
lot of cultural and intellectual gaps. Your facts on the general
lifestyle of the BaTonga are too far from the true situation on
the ground. The mix-up on the effects of the Tonga cultural practices
on the people show little research intelligence. Your vague statements
like "… culturally closed group". Closed from which
or whose culture? There is no standard culture anywhere in the
world. It’s a matter of how much someone understands the culture
of a particular people. For example, in Zimbabwe Shona culture
is closed from a muTonga, Ndebele culture is closed from a Shona,
and the reverse is true. So what do you mean?
- Carries untrue
statements. Saying, "… people in Binga are not yet engaged
in the fight against HIV and AIDS.." is not only surprising,
it is unappreciative. It means MOH is not operating in Binga,
DAAC is doing nothing and several ASOs in the district are on
a picnic. Under DAAC we have the following implementers, MoH,
CADEC, SC(uk), Ntengwe, Adra, PSI, Lubancho etc. I think by now
everyone in Binga could either be dead or sick, because first
cases of HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe are now more than 15 yrs old.
- Seems to
pose a surprise as to why the BaTonga have a unique culture. All
ethnic groups have unique cultures.
- Has key ideas
all mixed up. In one sentence you state, "…these practices
HAVE KEPT them safe from HIV and AIDS". This means the practice
is effective in protecting. In another sentence the same practice
is, "…a vehicle for the spread of HIV and AIDS and abuse
of children, capable of wiping out the community". The so-called
vehicle for HIV and AIDS is true for the whole country and Africa
in general. It is not particular for Binga. I believe information
from a snap survey should be restricted to internal use, not to
put it out on website for public consumption, because it naturally
- Carries too
much hear-say. On witchcraft, check the media reports from 1980
and you will understand witchcraft patterns, concentrations and
prevalence in Zimbabwe. Case of a father being intimate with a
daughter is not cultural among the BaTonga. These are some isolated
bizarre stories you can hear of, anywhere in the world. Personally
I am hearing of this, in Binga, from this reporter. I am not refuting
much of your report contents. I resist your making of issues too
particular to BaTonga as if everyone elsewhere is innocent. The
allegations of mbanje for tobacco smoked in gourds (ncelwa), probably
did not come from the survey. It is one of the "common suspicions"
outsiders (to Binga) have.
come into Binga with this mind, and then fry it into a report back
in their offices. We are well aware of this as a community. We meet
these when we are out of Binga too often. Cigar smoking among the
BaTonga women is an extremely rare case."Incelwa", with
ambers burning the ground millet grain from above, water in the
gourd and tobacco burning under pressure below the grain, yes. Mbanje
is illegal and it is not cultural as you were RIGHTLY TOLD. However,
this "gourd smoking" has declined sharply since independence,
and so is the removal of 4 upper front teeth in women and a few
other facial marks for beauty reasons. The BaTonga, like anyone
else are undergoing social and behavioral transformation from primitive
levels that the Shona, Ndebele, Kalanga,Venda, White people etc,
were also at, one time.
Nothing is strange
about the BaTonga. It is untrue that Tonga women are not being married
outside the Tonga land. Much of this report seems to be based on
either misconception, misinformation, stereotype and mentality of
cultural superiority many "localized thinkers" have. The
statement on mbanje for sexual intentions is not only surprising,
it is a social insult. "…Spend the daytime drunk "— where
is the police? It is common sense from "O" level science
that alcohol and drugs are depressants. Why does it have to be particularized
for BaTonga in your report? I am not too sure when the reporter
joined the HIV and AIDS field of this country. The "sugar daddy-sweet
16" phenomenon did not start among the Tonga. Visit media reports
and ASO statistics, and see how many of these cases of AIDS-curing
intimacies have been reported found among the BaTonga. The whole
data from paragraph 3 through 5 of this report is a national problem.
Long distance from school or short distance in a sugar daddy’s car
poses the same problem for the victims.
Moringa tree does NOT treat AIDS. Currently there is no evidence
to that effect. It is nutritional, boosts one’s immune system and
help suppress the viral load in a sick person.
For more and
accurate information I refer you to:
and Nutritional Committee,
C/o Binga Dist. Hospital,
Box 7, Binga.
Tel: 015-317/9 or
Binga Trees Trust,
Tel/Fax: 015-321 or
a people whose lifestyle you do not understand can make one a very
funny reporter. External development work have largely been interpreted
"resisted by communities" because it is usually imposed
on the locals who rightly feel it does not answer their needs at
that moment, after researchers engaged by intending implementers
have produced misleading reports such as this one to the funding
community. The last bolded sentence might need rephrasing because
it does not reflect the truth about the BaTonga community. BWALUMBA
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