In Zimbabwe, residents of several rural districts in
the region of Mashonaland East are calling for the return of mobile cinemas.
Rural inhabitants rejected the service nearly three decades ago, when
authorities used the films to spread their propaganda. But some farmers now
suggest mobile cinemas should be reinstituted, and air educational messages
that would encourage local development. Voice of America English to Africa
Service reporter Safari Njema visited the area.
Before independence in 1980 when the country was
known as Rhodesia, the information ministry
operated a mobile film unit showing
films countrywide. But at the height of the liberation war many
people rejected the concept when they realized authorities were using the films
to broadcast propaganda.
After independence, the government initially
continued to sponsor rural cinema but later abandoned the effort because of
Thirty-nine-year--old Chido Gurwe, who lives in
Katsande village, says locals are looking beyond the current period of fear and
uncertainty which they say is stifling development. He claims while they work
in their gardens and surrounding fields they're openly talking about the need
to do things differently in a "new Zimbabwe". Some are calling for
cinema with positive and inspiring messages. Gurwe, the father of two, who runs
a grocery shop in Mutoko, says people are starved for information because they
have no access to newspapers or magazines, “In those mobile films we need to see the
programs that will be done in rural areas.”
He suggests videos filmed in rural Zimbabwe could
be used to educate businessmen who might consider investing in the areas.
But 29-year-old Ronah Mvundura wants films to focus
on the important role women play in the development of the society. Ronah, who
lives in Manemwe village, says local women are involved in a variety of
projects like making bread and raising pigs and chickens, “I think it will be
very beneficial [because] it is going to show what women are capable of doing.”
Ronah, a primary school teacher, adds educational
films could show young women how to empower themselves without having to
migrate to cities.
Sixty-nine-year-old Victor Muunganirwa once worked
for the then ministry of internal affairs and participated in the mobile cinema project. He
says a resurrected version of rural cinema should show locals working on
projects and encourage residents to take ownership of the initiatives, “I
urge the government to incorporate [rural people into its projects]. Do it with them because they will feel [the project]
is theirs and they [will keep it going].”