San community needs empowerment

TSHOLOTSHO - The perennially starving San community in Tsholotsho has appealed to government to urgently consider their plight as hunger continues to take its toll on the remote marginalised area of Matabeleland North Province.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday during a visit to Sanqinyane and Sifulasengwe villages under Chief Siphoso last week, area coordinator of the San community Christopher
Dube accused government of ignoring their plight.

“The government has for years promised to improve our lives but as it seems things are not getting any better,” Dube said.

He revealed the majority of the people in the community were now forced to consider going back to their historical bush life which they feel is better than their current situation.

“Most of us here had really accepted moving with times and adjusting to the modern trends of life but the way we continue to suffer leaves us on the edge in as far as life is concerned,” Dube said.

Current laws prohibit illegal hunting of animals making their lives difficult since back then it was their major source of livelihood.

“We want to practice farming like any rural community but our major setback is that we do not have the necessary agricultural tools. We had a very good rainy season this year and we have the land but surprisingly hunger persists because we do not have means to till sizeable land,” Dube said.

He also said most members of the community did not have farming equipment such as ox-drawn ploughs, hoes and draught power making it difficult for them to engage in meaningful agricultural ventures that can sustain them.

“We do not own any farming implements so that is why I am begging the government to empower us because it is better than begging for food permanently,” Dube said.

The San community leader said their children were now expressing interest in going to school but unfortunately they drop out early owing to financial constraints.

This unfortunate situation has contributed to very low literacy levels in the marginalised community.

An estimated population of about 1 700 San people are living in Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North alone while a significant number are found in the Plumtree area of Matabeleland South.

The San population is estimated to be over 2 500 across the country.

For thousands of years the San people have lived on hunting and gathering making game meat and fruits their staple food but since independence the government has been making strides to improve their livelihoods.

The late former Vice President John Nkomo was one of the senior government officials from Matabeleland region who fought tirelessly to improve the lives of the San community but with limited success.

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