The Doma, a people forsaken
A traditional hunter-gatherer community, the Doma live on the extreme margins of Zimbabwean society. They play no role nor even have knowledge of the country-wide #ThisFlag movement that threatens the very core of the state. Theirs is a daily and painful struggle to survive, totally neglected and forsaken.
While Zimbabwe continues to slide into socio-economic catastrophe, largely perceived as man-made, all the attention is on the current upheavals sparked by the spectacular #ThisFlag movement. Inspired by an unlikely and previously relatively obscure but charismatic pastor, Evan Mawarire; and spurred on by the opportunities of social media, the #ThisFlag movement has captured the imagination, courage, spirit and voice of a people who have suffered for decades.
They have known no other leader since independence! The movement has unleashed massive national strikes and stay-aways and put pressure on the regime of Africa’s oldest and ostensibly most educated president. Yet, hundreds of miles away from the capital towards the north-eastern part of the country’s border with Zambia lives a totally forgotten and forsaken people. The Doma, an indigenous group of people who live in the Mbire District – away from the immaculate buildings, lights and tarred roads of Harare.
A traditional hunter-gatherer community, the Doma live on the extreme margins of Zimbabwean society. They play no role nor even have knowledge of the country-wide #ThisFlag movement that threatens the very core of the state. Theirs is a daily and painful struggle to survive, totally neglected and forsaken. Their situation reflects a typical example policy failure and dissonance that has left these people living in abject poverty with no access to education, proper nutrition, clean water, housing or any other basic services.
This is a manifestation of the violent and dehumanising reality of poverty. Surrounded by forest and rugged terrain which is home to dangerous creatures of the wild, the Doma’s children are forced to drop out of school – which is far away. Even where benevolent actors attempt to support these children through the provision of school infrastructure, the tragic axe of policy malfunction rears its ugly head, stopping them dead in their tracks. The Doma people have thus been systematically disempowered and forced into a sub-human existence. But they live Doma on. Their resilience combined with the help of such organisations as the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe (CCDZ), who are working to profile their plight to policymakers, carries some hope for the future. The OSISA Education Programme is happy to support CCDZ in bringing attention to the state of the Doma people – a people forgotten; a people forsaken!
About the author(s)
Velaphi Mamba is currently the Programme Manager for Education at the regional level (Southern Africa) for the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) – a position he occupied in April 2015. His work is located in eleven countries in the SADC including Angola, DRC, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He leads the Foundation’s efforts at supporting the cause for inclusive, equitable and quality education in the region through strategic grant making, advocacy and other interventions. Professionally, Velaphi is a teacher having been trained at the University of Swaziland for both undergraduate and graduate studies. He has tutored at the University of Swaziland’s Institute of Distance Education (IDE) for a period of three years (2007 – 2010). He also has a passion for writing and has published within the school system in Swaziland.
Velaphi is currently pursuing his second graduate qualification in Development Studies – which forms part of his academic interests. Velaphi is also a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni – a programme under President Obama’s flagship project for young African leaders.