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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: A class with only two girls — the rest got married !

Today is Friday the 13th, that mythical day fraught with so many mystic beliefs. But that is a story for another day.

Let me begin by saying that stories and scandals that make national headlines have a certain remoteness about them because they may be about matters that appear to be far removed from the areas we live in.

Be they stories about corruption, rape , murder, political violence or even the abuse of the school-going girl child, they remain events happening out there, far removed from what we deem to be the innocent reality in our immediate environment.

The stories and scandals that occupy spangled banner colours in our national newspapers only begin to make sense and to infuse a sense of shock and rude awakening when they happen in our own communities. That is exactly what happened to me earlier this week.

My rural hood and birthplace is Tamborenyoka village in Shumba ward, Domboshava, some 45 or so kilometres north-east of Harare. On the eve of the opening of schools early this week, I heard a harrowing story that made my heart to skip.

I was reliably told that this term at our local Tsatse Secondary school, there is a Form Four North class that has only two girls. This is because the rest, well over 15 of them, have dropped out for other reasons but for most of them, they simply got pregnant and eloped.

The now Form Four North class was what was the Form Three B class last year in 2022 when the number of the female contingent in the class began to decline.

This week, when the now Form Four class trooped back to school, only two girls came back; our daugher Lynn Chakuwana and Florence Murwira from Shumba village. Lynn is daughter to a brother of mine. The two are the only girls remaining in their class.

The rest have retreated from scholarship with most of them now preparing to be mothers; some either at the places to which they eloped or at their homesteads, further stressing their parents with the headache of procuring clothing and other necessities for the coming child.

The national story of the abuse of the girl child has now come right down to my doorstep, at our local secondary school near my village.

While I personally did not do my secondary education at Tsatse, I am a proud product of Tsatse primary school where I was the best student when I acquired top grades in the Grade 7 examinations in 1986, setting a proud record for both my community and my school..

I then proceeded for my secondary education at Makumbi mission situated in my mother’s maiden village some 10 kilometres away.

So the issue this week is that right at the secondary school in my own community, we have a Form Four class now with only two girls while the rest are now set to be mothers. For me, the sad national story has now been villagised.

I hear there is now talk of subsuming the problem class into the other two Form Four classes.

Fine, the alarming dropping out of the female contigent may only have happened in only one of the three Form 3 classes but the hallmark of leadership is to be able to discern a problem before it becomes an unmitigated disaster.

Let me categorically state that the schools are not to blame for the decadence and the pregnancies now rife in pur schools, including even primary schools.

Our schools have just inadvertently become the playground, nay the public platform and window through which our collective weaknesses as families, communities, parents, sexual predators and the government are manifesting themselves. I will posit that the solution is equally collective, as is the problem itself.

Indeed, the sad girl child story that is not only at Tsatse but has become endemic throughout the country must invoke in all of us some serious hinking and reflection.

For what happened to the class at Tsatse is reflective of the unfolding .national tragedy of the abuse of the girl child and her dropping out of school. We must seriously reflect on the kind of society we have become and the one we will bequeath to future generations.

As the trending musician, the Gafa Winky D would pertinently ask: What legacy are we leaving for the coming generation? This is certainly not the Dzimba dzeMabwe, the House of Stone that we all know. It is certainly not the values of our Zimbabwe, the land we cry for and that we die for!

The abuse of the girl child has been making sad reading nationally. By now we have all read the shocking stories of of 8 year-olds and 9-year olds who are now mothers. Only very recently, there was yet another sad story of a 39-year old father who twice raped his own 15-year old daughter.

Indeed, the sexual violations of under-age girls has become a beast that ought to be sternly “luke-d” in the eye.

For the Form Four North girls at Tsatse Secondary, one can presume that they were around 15 years of age last year when they fell pregnant.

Dear reader, we now have scoundrels out there masquerading as men! For what kind of man sees a wife in those kids walking to school in the rain, with their satchels, plaited hair and blank smiles betraying an unbridled innocence about life and its vicissitudes?

I have previously written a piece that I have titled Men have gone rogue . Just what kind of men would sleep with these under-age school-children,, especially the 9-year olds that we have recently been reading about?

When almost the whole female contingent drops out of a class for whatever reason, especially sexual abuse, it must be a big issue both nationally and in our communities.

Tsatse just happens to be the subject of my narrative this week, but the scenario at Tsatse Secomdary is just a sample of a sad national story. The girl child is dropping out of school in alarming numbers nationally for reasons of rape, sexual abuse or just plain teen pregnancies.

For me, the real story is about the men; the predators on the prowl most of whom take advantage of these vulnerable and impressionable innocent girls in our secondary schools. Some give them money, some buy them clothes and give them all sorts of small favours before they pounce on them.

Of course, this is the week where delimitation and boundaries have become the the themes of national debate and discussion. But this week in my own community, I have been reminded that society needs to take action on those who don’t delimit their armorous prowess; those who do not know the proper boundaries of their sexual proclivities.

Anyone under the age of 18 is a child and the national Constitution is very clear on that delimitation. In keeping with the theme of the delimitation debate currently raging in the country, our men should restrain their desires within the boundaries delimted by the supreme law of the land!

The girl child has simply become an endangered species. In December 2021, we heard of a very sad story at Muringani primary school in Marondera where only one female student wrote her Grade 7 examinations. The rest had fallen pregnant. Yes, the primary school pupils had fallen pregnant!

In fact, at the time of registration, only four female students had registered to write the Grade 7 examinations because the rest had fallen pregnant and dropped out of school. But when the time came to sit for the actual exams, the other three had fallen pregnant as well, leaving only one female student to sit for the examinations.

For me, what was more shocking was that despite the alarming figures of the drop-out of female primary school students due to pregnancy, we did not hear of any mass arrests of the predators in Marondera who impregnated these innocent souls.

Neither did we hear of the arrests of the parents, most of whom had “married off” these girls. Kuroodza mwana anotamba mahumbwe.

Indeed, some in our society have become complicit in this reprehensible and despicable but growing industry of child marriages in Zimbabwe.

I have a 12-year old daughter, Lee-Anne Tapiwanashe and I cannot imagine my kinsmen and I sitting in the family lounge to discuss the lobola of such a toddler. It’s an abomination, as they would say in the Nigerian movies.

The continued abuse of the girl child has reached alarming levels. It all speaks to the break down of the social fabric. What should families do? What should society do? What should Parliament do? What should our courts do?

And what should government do? At least we should leave the task to the incoming government that will be ushered in at the next election because the current one has dismally failed to stem the rot.

The girls who dropped from school at Tsatse in my own community reflect a growing but sad national trend. Have we become a nation of paedophiles?

But then it all started with one guy at the very top whom we hear raped and abused a then 15-year old Susan Mutami. Yes, we were told the culprit was Chauruka himself, the man about to electorally fall from grace at the pending plebiscite.

Its all chaos. But then, I am just a writer. I carry neither spear nor bayonet. Ibotso . Asi ini ndingori munyori chete. Handina pfumo kana bakatwa .

Luke Tamborinyoka, a citizen from Domboshava, is a journalist and an ardent political scientist by profession. He is a change champion in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him on his facebook page or via his twitter handle @ luke_tambo.

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