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First Lady hails indigenous crops

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa listens to Mrs Priscilla Charumbira’s presentation on traditional dishes prepared during a cook-out competition in Masvingo yesterday.

Tendai Rupapa in MASVINGO

GOD blessed Zimbabwe with an array of indigenous crops of high nutritional and medicinal value which its citizens can fully exploit for national benefit, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.

Speaking at her cookout traditional meal competition here yesterday, the First Lady said it was essential for Zimbabweans to take pride in their culture, adding that the value of traditional dishes must never be underestimated.

She is the country’s health ambassador and has been working flat out to ensure people have access to good nutrition and health services.

The Cookout traditional meal competition, she said, seeks to encourage all children of Zimbabwe to learn and understand their history, who started it, what they did and where the country is today.

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She decried that most people were losing out on the nutritional benefits of traditional dishes because of Western influences.

“Most of us no longer want to eat the type of food we have seen today. But if I may ask, is there anything inferior about the traditional food? but today we are ashamed of our food as Zimbabweans. The elderly here who were part of the contestants, were explaining the nutritional and medicinal values of the dishes they prepared. Today, because of technology we now have hospitals, injections and pills. That is why we are saying now that we have technology these foods also apply even on our health. Our doctors and nurses have challenges with patients who do not heal fast, but if you take this food and then visit the hospital it helps in your healing.

“If you take our sorghum sadza and porridge it helps that the pills you are given at hospitals you heal early to work for the family. I did not say hospitals must not be visited or cure yourselves at home. I am saying you lay the foundation of weakening the disease. At times when you eat this food the potency of the disease is lowered and you then go to hospital when at home you have used some remedies. Drinking zumbani and eating pumpkins among other traditional foods make you strong and when you take your pills you do not take long to heal,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa said some foreign countries loved Zimbabwean products and foods and people could earn money exporting the dried vegetables which are in abundance.

“We have also been shown traditional medicine here. Masvingo is blessed because some people will never show you plants with medicinal properties,” she said.

The First Lady said there were so many agricultural products some foreign countries wanted to import from Zimbabwe.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa looks at traditional dishes and indigenous fruits that included makwangwara and ndoda fruits displayed by a woman from Chambuta yesterday. The fruits help in boosting milk production in nursing mothers while the seeds are used for making skin oil.

 

“This is because of our heritage which was preserved by our ancestors. We then came and this is the food that is wanted outside the country because in Zimbabwe we do not use GMOs.”

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She also spoke about the Covid-19 pandemic where she urged people to continue masking up, sanitising and observing social distance. 

She has been at the forefront of disseminating information on how to prevent Covid-19 and mobilised resources like masks and sanitisers for the benefit of the poor.

“We should follow the protocols to keep the rate of infections low. If you are free of Covid-19, it doesn’t mean you start moving about aimlessly. 

“Wear your masks correctly and stop hugging people. Even after vaccination continue observing the protocols,” she said.

Last week the First Lady received her Covid-19 jab and yesterday she urged other women and girls to follow suit as she continues to lead from the front in finding solutions to the coronavirus.

She also said women must work together and avoid gossiping and looking down upon each other.

“Respect is a good thing. I am saying let us love each other as women. Let us help each other as women,” she said.

She further encouraged chief’s wives to sow the seeds of love in communities.

In yesterday’s competition, Mrs Beauty Machaka came out tops followed by Mrs Jayne Munodawafa (Mai Chief Murinye) who came second after battling it out with other 18 contestants drawn from all the districts in Masvingo province. 

Among dishes prepared yesterday was sadza from sorghum, millet, cassava and rice.

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Stews, some of which were prepared in clay pots giving an African feel to yesterday’s programme included rabbit meat, guinea fowl, birds, mice, madora, magandari, grasshoppers, termites, flying ants and road runner in peanut butter.

The menu included mushroom, dried vegetables, pumpkins, rice in peanut butter, nuts, roundnuts, okra and a mixture of pumkins and peanut butter.

Indigenous fruits were also on display and these included makwangwara from murara tree which is found in Chilonga and Chambuta which helps men boost masculinity.

Another fruit from Chambuta-Ndoda helps increase milk production in nursing mothers while the seeds are used for making skin oil.

Sambarambwambwa also helps lactating mothers produce milk, berries help stops gum bleeding. There was also nyii, cucumbers, amarula fruit to make juice and the seeds which are known as tsomho make nuts for snacks. The fruits are also squeezed into mukumbi, a potent drink.

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and Mwenezi West legislator Priscilla Moyo hands over a prize the contestant who prepared the best dish yesterday. — Pictures: John Manzongo.

Water melons were also served alongside figs whose leaves makes green tea. There were African grapes (Makosvo), baobab fruits and guavas.

Herbs on display included the barks of mukamba tree which help to cure chest pains and heal snake bites by boiling and drinking the water.

Dried corn silk, Mbuya Tendai Mutodza from Chivi said it helps to prevent bed-wetting.

She also said that Batsavatsi soil helps pregnant women clear the birth canal while the peels of berries help cure headaches and dizziness.

Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira was full of praises for the First Lady who has been doing wonders in his Province and the country at large.

Only last month she launched her Gota/Nhanga/Ixiba programme at Chief Nhema’s homestead in Zaka. 

“We are very grateful for the work you are doing as the mother of the nation. Masvingo Province has been highly favoured by yourself in terms of development and Vision 2030. We want to thank you heartily but at times we are left tongue-tied. If all of us could act the way you do our country could be at a much higher level. Masvingo got a lot from your programmes of assisting opharns, and initiating various income generating projects,” he said to applause.

Representing chiefs’ wives, Mrs Priscilla Charumbira said she was grateful to the First Lady for her educative programmes.

“We would like to thank you for your programmes which promote our culture and elevate our country. You are teaching our children morality and bringing back our traditional values of educating our children who are growing up. We are here to support you in the works you are carrying out,” she said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Mwenezi West legislator Cde Priscilla Moyo expressed gratitude to the First Lady for her insight.

“We are happy with what has happened here today and what Amai is doing countrywide. The First Lady has respected us as Masvingo and has shown us love. She has taken us back to the rural areas where we came from. In most cases we look down upon the village, but here we have been taught that our traditional way of life is important. We have also learnt that our children must learn from us as elders and if we do not do this at home they will not learn. Because of the First Lady’s programme, we have also learnt of some medicinal properties in some herbs that we did not know. She has implored us to continue following our traditional way of life and we have lots of traditional foods with health benefits,” she said.

HERALD