By Rutendo Mapfumo, 15 November 2012
AFTER the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River runs deep and wide all year round, frothing and seething as it snakes down on its journey to vomit into Lake Kariba. Between its southern bank and Hwange Town is a vast swathe of dry and arid communal lands, occupied for years by Nambyan villagers, the autochthonous people of the land.
Here it might or might not rain for periods of up to three consecutive years. Scorching heat, drought and hunger are as sure as the day rising and setting, the following day. It is the norm and very accepted.
Generation after generation of the Nambya and their Tonga neighbours have lived and gone, leaving behind this scourge.
Since time immemorial or rather since the establishment of Hwange Coal Mine and the subsequent town, huge pipes have drawn water from the Zambezi River, passing through the communal lands.
From Makwa near the river to Mwemba, Mashala, Kasase up to Chachachunda communal lands under Chief Hwange, the villagers watch and jump over water pipes as they carry the life saving liquid from Zambezi River to Hwange town, yet their homes are dry.
It is common to see women carrying buckets on their heads for long distances while water pipes passes through their villages.
It is equally common to see ox or donkey-drawn carts travel long distances to riverbed wells or distant boreholes to fetch water in drums, while circumventing water pipes that supply water to Hwange Colliery.
Except for a few old boreholes that now need attention, villagers mostly survive on wells dug on the banks of an intricate of rivers that drain into the Zambezi.
There, the villagers share the water with their livestock and, at times wildlife as the areas is also teeming with wild animals.
“We have grown up with water shortages while the pipe lines pass through our villages and in some case they pass by our doorsteps.
“While we know there is water in the pipes and we even cool off by sitting on the pipes on hot days, there is no single piped water scheme.
“Hwange Colliery has no courtesy even to establish water points in the villages and for one reason or the other our grandfathers and fathers have learnt to accept this as a norm.