SADC harvests fruits of liberation solidarity
Why? “I believe it’s important for human beings to help other human beings,” she explains, adding: “I made my choice in life that I must make a positive contribution for the betterment of mankind,” says Kirsten Amfried. Born in Denmark, Amfried says she has spent the better part of the last two decades away from home in the the cold climes of northern Europe ‘ on the road ‘ in such far flung places like Yemen, Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe among others. What has Kirsten and some other 1905 people from all over the world in common? They have all at some point in their lives been part of the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) in Zimbabwe under the umbrella of the international organisation Humana People to People programme. The seeds of the DAPP programme were sown during the Cold War with the pioneers of the DAPP programme being Zimbabweans based in Mozambique during the liberation war 25 years ago. And to mark 25 years of the programme, the organisation saw it fit to organise a get together of some of those who blazed the trail way back then during the struggle. And among these were some of the pioneers of DAPP in 1979. Addressing the reunion gathering of those pioneers who were in Denmark 26 years ago, Bob Dzere recounts how the first group of 110 were sent to Denmark from Mozambique. “After military training in camps in Mozambique, and with some recalled from the front,” explains Dzere, “we were selected to undergo training in at least eight vocational courses.” (The military aspect was kept a secret from their trainers in Europe for security reasons.) The eight disciplines they were enrolled in included: Automotive engineering; Basic electrical engineering; Agriculture; Building and Carpentry. Others were trained as Medical and Health workers; Water technicians; Administrative and Clerical officers while still others were trained as Teachers. Among those present who were trained was the current Norton mayor and ruling party central committee member Bybit Tsomondo (nee Kambarami) and her husband Shepherd who she met in Denmark. After serving the government for over 20 years they are now retired and working on their newly acquired farm in Norton, forty kilometres from Harare. After the war all the new graduates triumphantly returned to a free Zimbabwe via Mozambique for debriefing, disclosed Dzere. “Some decided to remain in the military while others opted to make use of their vocational training and qualifications in the civil service,” explains the principal organiser of the event. “Initially, I worked at the Parliament of Zimbabwe before finding my way back to DAPP when it was formed in Zimbabwe,” says Dzere, who was later recommended for further training in Denmark. “Others embarked on different paths but,” he adds, “as part of the Silver Jubilee commemorations and as pioneers of this project development under this initiative, we have decided to share those fond memories.” Zimbabwe’s independence did not mean the end of the noble initiative. The Nordic countries were some of the staunchest supporters of our liberation struggle and all the revolutions in southern Africa ‘ from Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. The DAPP programme was replicated for those who were still fighting for their freedom and their governments decided to expand the reach of their activities. In 1984, the Frontline Institute was started in Denmark to assist the then Frontline States ‘ forerunner of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) ‘ in their fight against an increasingly rabid and racist apartheid South Africa engaged in destructive engagement of the region’s economy. “The spirit of development, regional co-operation and education was encouraged and supported,” notes Kerstin Amfried. This spirit of regional camaraderie feels the air at the Frontline Institute with people from all over the SADC region ‘ Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia ‘ among others. Giving a brief background and history of the institution, Cecilia Kapela, from Botswana says that the institute was started in 1984 in Denmark with youths from the Frontline States being trained in reconstruction work, self-reliance for development and equipped with vocational skills. But the Institute was transferred to Zimbabwe in 1993 and was officially opened by President Mugabe on February 24, 1993. “So far over 1900 students from around the SADC region and beyond have passed through the gates of the institute,” she says. The breakdown is as follows: Angola (263); Botswana (46); Guinea Bissau (29); India (9); Namibia (65); Malawi (172); Mozambique (553); South Africa (69); Tanzania (16); Zambia (259) and Zimbabwe (414.) And as Washington Matshe, programme officer of Humana People to People, leads the group on a guided tour of the complex he informs the party that: “We train key people to work on the frontline of development against such dehumanising phenomena as poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy.” Weston Chimanga, from Malawi, says he is involved in a project to train communal farmers to go commercial through the Communal to Commercial agricultural initiative. And complimenting the land reform programme, Chimanga proudly discloses that “three-quarters of those we have trained ‘ about 1 666 ‘ have been allocated land in A1 and A2 schemes’. In addition, Chimanga says, the DAPP farms ‘ 12 in all ‘ are also involved in crop farming, wildlife and domestic animal husbandry.