Interviews in Siachilaba by Stefan Hecke

Article Index

Interviews by Stefan Hecke in Siachilaba, August 2002


Teacher, English Language & Literature, Forms 3 and 4

The Internet centre is something good. It is a blessing for all of us, teachers, students, the community. I come here daily to work on teaching material and to access literature on the internet. For example, I use it to download a summary of an English examination set book, which is not available here. Previously I would have done the summary myself, by hand, and it would take very long. I know someone once travelled to Bulawayo to get such material. I also use the computers to produce teaching material. I have met many friends using email, and it is still easy to talk to my friends, wherever they are. Tonga culture, I don’t have much knowledge about it, but it can give them exposure on internet and they can have access to information. Yes, I think access is equal to all people. We teachers pay for personal use and school work is free, I think it is absorbed by the School Development Association. It is affordable, but we should look for development to reduce the charges to make it easier for others. If you have interest but no money, you can do nothing. The ITC will bring development to Binga, which was previously backward in these things.


Teacher, Samende Primary School - 20 km - husband in Binga

The internet centre is a good thing, it will create interest and help a lot, especially young children, growing up knowing about computers. Even playing games will give them much interest, as they learn to be confident. We elders get the chance of trying to do something, even if you have no job, you can get knowledge and better job opportunities. I come to the ITC whenever I can, when I am in Binga. I did a computer course in bulawayo in 1996, but I have now forgotten, so I am trying to re-learn many things. The people here have helped me very much. I want such a kind of job, and now I can get it. I have not yet gone onto the internet or emailing. Although it is a distance from Samende to here, it is still better than the long journey to Bulawayo, which is expensive. I think it is affordable at $50 per hour, yes. Tonga culture may become recognised through this internet.


Accounts Teacher, Gwaai Secondary School, home in Binga.

I visit the centre weekends and holidays, and use email and computer. I want to learn more packages, Pastel etc. I did some courses at the Gweru Technical college including information technology and computer packages, but I want to learn more. I am very impressed with this centre, it is a great achievement, bringing educatin to the people. IT is coming up now, youngsters are coming for games and lessons. I think it is affordable for working people, and kids, well they have to budget and sacrifice for it. Here at Binga kids have a chance, but at Gwaai, there is zero level of computer literacy. They don’t even know what is a computer. We need a centre like this in Gwaai. An ITC like this can bring together people of different races and tribes; Tonga learning about others, and to us as foreigners here, we can learn about them. This secondary school is a good opportunity for cultural exchange locally, as there are kids from all over, Hwange, Dete, Vic Falls. It is an advantage to most. My friends were surprised - an ITC in Binga!! They think we are so backward. I wish you could add more training courses, so that instead of games, kids learn the computer.


A Level student, Upper 6th Form, Binga HS

I come here about twice a week, mostly for researching about geography. I used the CD Encarta, but I have not yet used email. As a student, the internet helps me get information on subjects, for example Accounting, I want to learn the layout and compilation of accounts. Up to now we have been using the manual method only. Now my mouse and keyboard skills are OK. The centre plays a very good role for Tonga culture. It’s the first time for Tongas to see a computer and use it for processing information. The students are learning much. The fees are affordable for boarders who stay at the hostel and budget their pocket money (allowance), but those who live out have to take care of their own accommodation and food, so it is difficult. About Ngoma buntibe, it should definitely be continued, but to survive they must adapt. Since ngoma buntibe was used especially when there is a death or celebration, and was related to spiritual things, it was rejected by church people. But they should adapt the music [to church music]. Also ngoma buntibe is failing to proceed because people playing it are no longer surviving. It would be a very good idea if revived. In my area of Simatelele, the people are interested, but for that to proceed, they need help to get horns. Before they would kill the animals they needed, but now it is illegal and horns are scarce. You cannot use just anything. People are interested in broadcasting Tonga culture. Here in Binga Tonga culture is despised by others. But now these computers from Austria, they now have respect. Tonga people were despised.

Mark Bhebhe (Ndebele)

Occup : Student, Binga HS, Upper 6th Form

Lives : Binga High School Hostel

How long have you been at Binga High?
I started here last year. Previously I was at Regina Mundi Mission School in Gwaai.

What subjects are you doing?
English, Ndebele and Management of Business at A Level.

How often do you come to the centre?
During weekends, or free study periods. Since I am a boarder and living here, it is easy.

What do you use the centre for?
Mostly for research. For example I downloaded a set book for our English Literature examination, called ‘A Winter’s Tale’ by William Shakespeare. The book is not available at our school at the present moment. If I did not get it from the ITC, I would have to buy it in Bulawayo. Our teacher sourced the book, and the cost is around Z$16 000. At the ITC it cost me $870 for the time to download.

What else?
My computer skills have improved greatly. You know, at first there is this fear of the machine and you never think you will be able to use it. But once you are exposed you find it is really easy. I am getting quite good at computer skills, typing, and I am learning new things every time I come here. General computer use and sometimes typing or presentations for teachers. They think I am quite good at it, so they ask me to do things for them.

What do you want to do when you leave school?
I want to do Law or Business Management at University of Zimbabwe. If this takes time, I would like to go back to my former school, where they have computers but no teachers, and impart whatever skills I have to them. Since I have access to computers now, I can improve and go and teach them what I know, increasing my own knowledge all the time.

What do you think technology like computers and internet means for Tonga people and their culture?
Now with the internet we can communicate with outside world, it is a chance to show it to other people, and increase pride in Tonga culture. In Binga we are seen as backward in terms of development, but the ITC will help to make Tonga culture recognised in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.

What do you think of the centre in general?
It is very helpful, especially to students. For example the book I was talking about, if I did not get it through here, it would cost $3000 to travel to Bulawayo and back, $16000 for the book, then accommodation, city transport and food - maybe $30 000 in the end.

OK, thank you for your time. Please come and participate in Mulonga Loop on Sun 8 Sep.
Ok, thank you.

Innocent Dube

Lives: Binga High School (teachers houses)

Educ: Teacher (Woodwork)

What do you think about the ITC?
I think it is an advantage to have this centre here. It is a big help.

What do you use the centre for?
I use internet, for email and research, although I have not yet found many sites relating to my subject. I use email, and I do research for my younger sister who is writing O Levels. I also type notes and exam sheets.

Do you have or see any problems in accessing the centre?
No problems, except that sometimes it is overcrowded, everything is slowed down. We could use more computers, or less people!

Do you pay to use the Centre? Is it affordable?
If it is school work, no, but I pay for personal use. Ah yes, it is affordable for me. But many people face financial constraints.

Are you Tonga?
No I am Suthu, from Beitbridge area (southern Zimbabwe border).

What do you think the internet and this centre can do for Tonga culture?
It is helping to bring back Tonga culture, for example the group that is going to come and perform. Small children are now forgetting their culture, they need that. And also we, the new settlers, are getting to know more about them.

What do you think of these foreigners who have brought this centre into existence?
We applaud them. They are helping us to be enlightened. We would have grown older without knowledge of computers, maybe some would spend their whole lives not knowing, without this centre.

How do you think it can be improved in any way?
I think it would be good if more training courses were offered, and if it could be made larger.

You said you are Suthu. As a matter of interest, how many languages do you speak?
Suthu, Ndebele, Shona, Nyanga, English, and I can understand a little of Tonga, Venda and Kalanga.

Thank you for your time.

Mrs Prosperity Mangena

Teacher, Samende Primary School, 20 km from Binga
Husband in Binga.

What do you think of the ITC?
It is a good thing, very interesting and it will help a lot, especially young children, they will grow knowing much about computers. Even playing games will give them much interest, as they learn to be confident. We elders get the chance of trying to do something, even if you have no job, you can get knowledge and more job opportunities.

What do you come here to do?
I did a computer course in Bulawayo in 1996, but it’s now forgotten, and I’m trying to re-learn. The ITC has helped me much. I want such a kind of job (computer-related) and now I can get it.

Have you been on the internet? Or email?
I have not yet.

How often do you come here?
This is my third day in three days. When I am in this area I come as much as possible.

Is this place accessible for you if you are living 20 km away?
It is a distance for me, but still closer than Bulawayo (+450km). And that is very expensive.

You are not a Tonga, but what do you think the ITC and computers can do for Tonga people?
They may become recognized.

Do you find it affordable, the charges at the centre?
Yes, at $50 per hour, it is affordable.


Obert Mpande (TONGA)

Lives : Binga, Back Harbour

Occupation : Student, Binga HS, Upper 6th Form (A Levels)

Subjects : Ndebele, Geography, Management of Business

Arrived asking for information to ‘join’ the project.

Have you been here before?
Yes, but not too much.

What do you want to come and do at the centre?
I want to learn through internet. I have used that CD, Encarta for Geography.

What do you think of the centre?
It is really helpful. It is helping in learning and giving more information on countries all over the world. Here we don’t have text books, so we can use computers now.

Anything else?
I want to go to University after A Levels, and I need to learn how to operate the computer programmes and become more computer-literate.

What do you think the centre and the internet can do for Tonga culture?
It can promote and let people know about us.

Do you know about Ngoma Buntibe?
Yes, a little.

On Sunday 8 September there will be a gathering here to listen to music from Kariba in the 1957 over the radio (Mulonga Loop explained.) We are interested in hearing what you think about Ngoma Buntibe music - we know it is there in the past, and it is also in the present, but what about the future? Will it still be there for Tonga people?
Ah no, in some areas, it is dying. In our area at Muchene, because of some churches, many youth are rejecting the ngoma buntibe, they are told that it is sinful, it is no longer allowed. We are losing the culture, and only old people are found there in our area. There are these styles besides ngoma buntibe - Chilimba and Malimbwena - these are no longer existing, they are dead forever.

Do you think ngoma buntibe is something that should continue, even now that we have technology like the internet?
Yes it should continue. We need support from foreigners, materials for instruments, and to explain to our people that it is not a sin, just our culture. If we talk about it, people won’t listen, but if foreigners like you people talk, then they listen.

Do you think if everything was available, young people would be interested again, or is it too late already?
It is not too late. If things were available, horns, drums, they will be very interested. But we need to be taught again.

OK, thank you for your time.
On Sun 8 Sep invited and Mulonga Loop explained

N Phiri

Educ : Teacher - English Language and Literature, Forms 3 and 4

What do you think of the Binga ITC?
It is something good. It is a blessing for all of us, the teachers, the students, the community.

How often do you use the centre?
I am here almost daily.

What do you use it for?
I use the internet for research and emails; computer work for typing up lessons and producing teaching material.

What research are you doing?
For example, I teach literature, so I managed to get some very useful material for set books, summaries which made my work much, much easier. Before I would have had to summarise books myself by hand and copy by hand for students. I know someone who would travel to Bulawayo (450km) for research in libraries there. I have also met many friends using internet and email. Lots of people have left the country, but it is still easy to talk to them.

Are you Tonga?
No I am Ndebele.

What do you think the centre will do for Tonga culture?
I have not much knowledge about Tonga culture, but it will be exposed to everyone, now that they have access to internet. Some local people now have email accounts.

Do you think access to the centre is fair for everyone?
Yes, very fair. All kinds of people come here, not only us teachers and students. There are the local Tonga people, we are from Bulawayo and these other tribes near Hwange such as Nambian people. Everyone can come.

How about payments - do you pay for computer use?
Yes, if it is personal, but if it is schoolwork we do not pay. I think that cost is paid by the School Development Association.

Is it affordable?
Yes for me it’s OK, but others have problems. If you have the interest but no money, you can do nothing. In future development it would be good if certain people could access free services, at least for a time.

Anything else?
This is a great development in Binga. Previously we were so backward. Even in Zimbabwean towns, if you talk about Binga, it’s like you are talking about something unknown. Now, we are also on the map, we can communicate with anywhere in the world.

Thank you for your time.

Virginia Sibanda
Lives: Binga

Educ: Supplementing O Levels by night school

Where are you from?
I am living in Binga but I am Nambian, from Hwange area.

What do you think about the Binga ITC?
It is very good. It can create friendship between people and you can learn how to operate computers, and know more. It’s a great development, an advantage for people like us who are poor, and can’t go to Bulawayo and pay money for transport, accommodation etc.

What are you interested in? How do you use the centre?
To learn to operate a computer. I want a career in an office, reception or secretary. I want a diploma in typing and anything I can learn here. I get help in operating, and I copy notes off the computer.

Do you use the centre often?
I wish I could come every day, I am supposed to come every day, but I have been busy. You know, we are poor, we have to find the money. So I come maybe once or twice a week.

Have you found some help here at the Centre?
Yes, they are very helpful. I have to ask them all the time.

Do you speak Tonga? And what other languages?
I speak Tonga, Nambia, Nyanja, Shona, English and Ndebele.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
Ah, that’s all, it’s a good thing.


 Kingdom Sinampande (+ 13 yrs) (Tonga)

Educ : Form 1, Binga HS

Do you like this ITC?

Do you come here often?

How many times a week?
At least 3 times a week.

What do you come to do on the computers?
I like games.

Which is your favourite game?
End of Empire.

Do you pay?

Where do you get money to pay?
My father gives me.

Your father gives you money to come here?
Yes he does.

What else do you do here?
I want to learn computers.

OK thanks very much.

Elisabeth Thomsen (MS) for BaTonga Museum, Binga
For the BaTonga Museum the Binga IT Centre is an excellent opportunity to make itself and its purpose known to the world. The purpose of the BaTonga Museum is to expose Tonga culture and history. Therefore, we find that the Binga ITC and the mulonga webpage can successfully work together to promote the rich culture of the Tonga people. Also, we hope that the IT Centre can provide the Tonga people with information and communicate with the rest of the world. The Tonga Museum is very excited to be part of the whole new way of communication that has opened up here in Binga. We urge all people in Binga, Zimbabwe, Austria and the rest of the world to use the new way of communication and make it a success!

Freddy Khupe, Save the Children (UK)
The ITC in Binga has come at the right time. It is the time Binga Secondary was being upgraded to Binga High. This will help the students to use the internet for educational purposes. Books are very expensive when they are available but in the majority of the cases these are not available.

How sustainable is this project? Most cases projects work well with the supervision of the donors or NGOs. What is the contribution of the local people which would be vital to the sustainability of the project? The project is an institution and this calls for awareness so that people realise that they have the right to access it. In most cases when such projects are in an institution of learning the general community will think that it requires high educational qualifications to access the project. I hope that is being taken care of. Are there any plans to involve school children in other secondary schools I the district? I hope there are people who are manning the centre either as teaching staff or technical staff. Staff turnover can ruin the centre with that I mind, I hope there are plans to take care of this.

DAVID MUNGOMBE, Ntengwe for Cultural Community Development
The internet centre has brought about computer literacy in Binga. The development of the ITC is and will cover the education gap between urban and rural students, giving them both equal opportunities for employment which is today advertised basing on computer literacy.

It would be great to have a faster printer with colour printing capabilities. Consider also setting up public phone facilities.

Dr Sergio Luis Vaids Cubilia, and Dr Mariela Arano Rodriguez, Binga Hospital (just arrived in Binga)
First, I want to say sorry for our language is not good but we are trying to improve. We are very grateful for your welcome and to meet a lot of people with the same target, to help the Zimbabwean people to get a better way of life. Thanks for the internet centre (we travel from our country alone and it is very good to have the possibility to get news about our family). Whenever you want, you can ask us for any kind of help for this people of Binga. Our house is your house, and the culture [Tonga language] will be useful for our work here, the health care of this district. - Cuban Doctors.