By Kudzai Chikiwa
Imagine your 13-year-old daughter being crowned Bulawayo’s queen for sleeping with a minimum of 10 boys in a single night.
How would it feel to have your 17-year-old son bragging about having a bunch of $5 notes as reward for being a sex master?
These shocking revelations of youths being crowned for sleeping with many partners were shared during a vuzu party engagement forum in the city recently.
The forum was organised by the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) and the Better Men Foundation in a bid to unearth the root cause of the vuzu culture and how best to deal with it.
Vuzu parties have been topical to a point where some people now think they know every nitty gritty about these delinquent activities.
A Bulawayo youth, Trevor Gurajena, left people stunned when he revealed the four types of vuzu parties that include plain, $5 party and “blesser” sponsored vuzu parties.
Gurajena said the plain vuzu parties are the ones whereby youths sponsor themselves just for socialising and, of course, unprotected sex.
“For this one, youths just contribute some money to host a party. Usually it’s a way of relaxing the mind after a hectic school term and also a farewell party after a school holiday. Youths indulge in unprotected sex, take drugs and have fun,” he said.
Gurajena said these rowdy youths use “passwords” to code each other so that they get into kombis that usually park near Haddon and Sly.
“There is a signal that youths use which is not known by everyone. If you are at Haddon and Sly for instance and you hear a certain code or whistle, you know that it’s time to go and you have to jump into the kombi. Youths who fail to read these codes are automatically out of the list,” he said.
What left people tongue tied is the $5 vuzu party.
Gurajena said on top of paying transport fares and money to buy drugs, youths pay a $5 subscription to join a sex race.
The subscriptions, he said, are set aside throughout the party and will be given as an award to honour the boy and girl who win the race.
“It’s a race and you have to prove a point. Two people, a boy and a girl who manage to sleep with at least 10 partners during that night are given the royal crown,” he said.
Gurajena said those who are crowned are highly regarded.
The third one, Gurajena said, is the blesser sponsored party where an adult forks out money to hold the party.
“Youths don’t pay anything here as someone does it for them. This is usually done by people who want to test the efficiency of their drugs.They find it easy to test it on youths,” he said.
His explanation stirred the hearts of parents as they tried to imagine their children in such a pit.
Bulawayo Ward 1 Councillor, Mlandu Ncube said vuzu parties are a foreign phenomenon and a sign of moral decay.
“What I’ve just heard pierced my heart. I never imagined this happening to our children. Growing up, we never heard of a sex race neither could we openly speak about sex,” he said thoughtfully.
Clr Ncube said vuzu parties should be taken seriously and people should shun blame shifting.
“This is a worm that has penetrated in our city and it’s a threat to ubuntu. Let’s hold hands and fight. While police and city fathers are doing their part, parents should also play a part. No one is to blame,” he said.
A nurse educator from Mpilo Central Hospital said vuzu parties are contributing to the rise in new HIV infections and sexually transmitted infections in the youth.
“This is a threat to our vision of reducing HIV/Aids and new infections by 2030.Youths are indulging in unprotected sex that puts them at the risk of contracting HIV and STIs,” said the official.
The nurse educator said girls get unwanted pregnancies and end up opting for illegal abortions.
“Illegal abortions have far reaching implications on the child’s health,” she said.
She revealed that cases of rape are high among teenagers ranging from the ages of 15 to 19 years which is usually the vuzu party goers’ age range.
“From five to nine-year-olds, there are 34 reported to be raped, 10 to 14 year-olds we have 29 cases while for 15 to 19 year-olds there are 55 cases. For 20 to 24 year-olds there are only five while for 25 to 29 year-olds there are eight and for 30 to 49 year-olds we have eight reports,” she said.
A fuming resident, Mrs Nomsa Moyo said adults are also perpetrators as they sell confectionery laced with drugs.
“Police should be hard on these people because they’re killing our children,” she said.
Bulawayo acting police spokesperson, Inspector Abednico Ncube said attending vuzu parties is a criminal offence that will catch up with offenders in future.
“Even though they are not imprisoned, these youths already have a criminal record and that will affect them when they seek jobs at Government institutions or want scholarships to study abroad,” he said.
Speaking on the far-reaching implications of vuzu parties, Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube said teenagers are holding parties at child-headed homes whose owners are in the diaspora.
She challenged parents in the diaspora to leave their children under responsible guardians saying their houses have become hot spots for vuzu parties.
“It’s disturbing to note that vuzu parties are being held in affluent suburbs usually whose owners are in the diaspora. These parents tend to forget that children are young and may be irresponsible sometimes,” she said.
Minister Ncube said children abuse money that their parents in the diaspora send as they divert it to purchase drugs and alcohol.
She said dealing with vuzu parties is a collective responsibility that needs all stakeholders to contribute.
She challenged young people to be responsible and shun attending vuzu parties.
“Young people, your future is in your hands and if you act recklessly, it’s you who will suffer. Bulawayo and the whole world is looking up to you as leaders,” she said.
Youths who were present said next time, any indaba on vuzu parties should be done in the presence of teenagers who are directly affected.
In May, police arrested 131 rowdy youths in Bulawayo in an operation that saw law enforcement agents also confiscating alcohol and sex enhancing pills from teenagers headed to vuzu parties where they engage in risky unprotected group sex, drug and alcohol abuse. The Chronicle