By Hopewell Chin’ono
When Cyclone Idai hit us I realized that there was very little information available for the outside world about the affected areas, information that could tell us about the hurdles and what might be naturally needed beyond the usual disaster requirements.
Our rural districts are not well documented online for outsiders to know about them beyond government services and individual private businesses.
So there is a project that I am starting to work on that I would like all of you to join me in your own rural districts by boldly putting them online.
I have been complaining a lot about what government has failed to do and what it should have been doing to a point where my head is now aching with frustration.
I have now decided to encourage all progressive citizens to talk whilst acting and not wait for government to do what we think it should be doing when we can do it ourselves.
I was going to start on this project working on it quietly and only talk about it when it is done, but then I thought that it is best that we work on the idea simultaneously in our many different districts across the country.
We can share ideas whilst doing this as we progress and see how others are doing and learning from their own experiences in the process.
We spend a lot of time on social media posting crap, if we can use a third of that time to do this stuff, Zimbabwe will become more visible to the rest of the world for the right reasons, as it should have been a long time ago.
So I have registered https://murewa.com because that is where I come from, you can also register your own district as the domain name as they are invariably available on the .com domain suffix.
Rural districts have websites but they have very little on them except the services they offer and the names of their bosses, rudimentary and uninspiring stuff.
We need district websites with an expansive field of information about them, this information can be about schools, hospitals and clinics, agriculture, history, commercial activities, markets, churches and many other such things.
We should also talk to our elders before they are gone about this district’s history and all the important aspects of life that should be documented and stored on these sites for future generations.
Ordinarily anyone wanting to know about a place would buy a book, but we have been losing business and tourist opportunities because we are not visible online beyond the government websites that have very little information on them.
I intend on starting with the generally available stuff and interviewing locals over a period of one year and also taking pictures of relevant historical places like Murewa Caves, and getting the elderly to talk on videos which I will post on the site.
On the institutional side, I have chosen to start with the district hospital and my local school hub, Chamapango Primary and Secondary Schools.
So we will have murewa.com/hospital and murewa.com/chamapangoschool, my home girls and boys from other areas in the district can document their patch with pictures, videos and content which we will add under their sub-district.
So folks from Uzumba in Murewa will be under murewa.com/uzumba and those from Mukarakate will have it down as murewa.com/mukarakate.
They will document their schools, churches, shops, history, talk about interesting people from their areas, Uzumba can have Jah Prayza and Professor Dixon Chibanda under interesting personalities from that area.
In the long term this portal will be useful for anyone wanting information on anything about this district from schools, businesses, agriculture and many other things that include places of interest.
You will be able to have a weekly update of what is available on the local agricultural markets and the prices of goods, so this will help local people too as they can market their produce at no cost.
Essentially this will be about everything in that district and it will also help those with an interest in that district to know what they can do to help develop it beyond the everyday rhetoric.
Today most Zimbabweans do not even know where to go when they need to find information about their own areas whilst away from Zimbabwe.
How do you buy land? What is the average price of an acre at Murewa? What processes are in place to ensure transparency? All these things should be on district websites.
So with the district hospital we will have murewa.com/hospital and document it including its history, how many beds it has, the people who manage it, the things that they need, their plan for the future, the hospital’s capacity etc.
We have a group from Murewa that wants to buy ambulances for the district hospital, we have doctors from Murewa in the diaspora who want to send equipment to the hospital, all this will be recorded and the record kept on the website.
Dr Rudo Mombe from Murewa and currently based in the U.S. has sent a container full of medical supplies for her local area, this would inspire other doctors and folks from Murewa if it were on a website.
We can do more but we need to have all this documented in order for future generations to also know the power of the citizen.
I know that a lot of people want to set up committees and sit in long boring meetings, this doesn’t need that if you are from Murewa, it only needs you to post your ideas and help in collating information.
If you are from Murewa please join our Whatsapp group using this link: https://chat.whatsapp.com/GVtAkCtUsS51VjxKWpPMLA
We also have a Telegram group that is not yet in use but will be used when the Whatsapp group is full.
Folks from Murewa who live in foreign countries and have children who have never been there can use this not only as a teaching resource fro their foreign born kids, but they can also get the kids to participate in the development of their home area.
They can use the website to help local schools that will go online with books and reading material, they can assist in collecting material that is deemed useless in the first world countries and yet is still useful in our part of the world.
We can help each other with information on scholarships and many other such initiatives, this is an opportunity to help develop and raise our communities together.
YOU TOO can tell us what you think we can do with this website, so if you are from Murewa let us get cracking, if you are not, get cracking too in your part of the country!
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa Leadership Institute.
Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.
The recently departed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.
It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France and in the UK at the Heart of England International Film Festival. You can watch the documentary trailer below.