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 financial constraints.
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].”