Nyaminyami: Buildling Democracy
' Pamberi ne mhuka, pamberi ne budiriro, pasi ne vateyi.' 'Forward with wildlife, forward with development, down with poachers .'
Each speaker at the annual general meeting of the Nyaminyami Wildlife Committee began by reciting that chant, with fist raised. They then held a vigorous debate over how to distribute the money they were earning from wildlife. Indeed, money was almost the sole focus of the meeting. For the people of Nyaminyami, six years after joining CAMPFIRE, wildlife means money, and the more of both the better.
Nyaminyami still faces enormous challenges. Poaching remains a problem, and immigrants from other districts are moving into wildlife habitat. Yet, a democratic process has taken root here. As with any democracy, the early stages seem messy and inconclusive, but the existence of the Nyaminyami Wildlife Committee, and others just like it across the country, bodes well for the future of Zimbabwe's rural people and their heritage.
Recently the Nyaminyami district council has decided to zone for different land uses. It is the first CAMPFIRE district to do so. Amongst the proposals are to:
Establish a wildlife sanctuary within the existing Bumi Hills state land where wildlife presently enjoys complete protection.
Designate a range of hills, the Mapongolas, as a conservation area, which would exclude human settlements from the region. It would also create a corridor for the movement of animals between Matusadona National Park to the east and Chizarira National Park to the west.
Designate a number of sites on the shore of Lake Kariba, for the development of small rustic camps for nature tourists.
Formally recognize a number of key conservation areas, including unique stands of vegetation and important habitats for crocodile breeding areas on the lake shore.
Much of the remainder of the district, which has very little agricultural potential, would be devoted to safari hunting. With careful zoning, wildlife harvesting need not conflict with game viewing and photographic safaris.
' We still need to learn a lot about wildlife management, but villagers are finally beginning to understand that these natural resources are ours to manage. '
Onias Mpofu, Nyenyunga village