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ISSUE 65(FREE READ)

Solar plant transforms rural community in Tsholotsho

THE Bemba community of Tsholotsho is enjoying the installation of a solar plant to power their homesteads and improve access to water for household and irrigation purposes. About 70 kilometres from Tsholotsho centre is Bemba village which the locals have named ‘Emaguswini Komnyamubambile’, loosely translated ‘where darkness has a grip’.

The history behind the name is narrated by Ms Thembi Ngwenya better known as Mangwenya, whom the ZBC News crew met deep in the heart of Tsholotsho as she follows a pathway that leads to her homestead. Mangwenya is among the villagers who have benefited from the solar project installed by the government’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

The news crew’s short journey to her homestead is an opportunity for her to narrate how the place got the name Komnyamubambile. “This area has always been referred to as komnyamubambile. It is an area which was associated with a lack of development,” she said.

As the crew enter Ms Mangwenya’s hut, she puts down the large sack containing meat that she has just collected from a nearby facility, switches on the light bulb and with a spring in her step she takes the meat to the freezer. The conversation continues and where there were doubts, there is a sense of satisfaction as she narrates how the solar project has transformed their lives for the better.

“We never thought this village would have power. We actually thought these people were lying to us when they first came to tell us that they want to install power for us. The first day I left the light on, thinking by daybreak it would be off, but it did not switch off,” she says. A few metres from Mangwenya’s home is the Ndlovu homestead. Excitement is written all over their faces, with water and power now easily accessible.

“This is just like a cloud that came and fell on us unexpectedly. Others ask how we got it as they would like the same project, but we do not have an answer as the government just chose us,” says Zephaniah Ndlovu. “We are now getting water close by,” Mrs Sibongile Ndhlovu says. On the crew’s way out, they are drawn to another homestead by the loud sound of music playing.

The festive season and the party mood might be over, but not for this community. And who would begrudge them? They have every reason to dance. The ZBC News crew spoke to Mrs Ncube, who like her fellow villagers waxed lyrical about the benefits of the solar plant in Bemba. “I no longer have the headache of having to look for firewood or making a fire in the morning,” she says.

Others like Mrs Ncube’s son, Mayibongwe who has a welding machine, are already thinking of business. A jovial character, Mayibongwe sums up how the solar plant is unlocking the potential of youths in rural communities. “I have my welding machine and now I use it right here at home. Life had even become easier for my mother when you have power everything becomes easy,” he says.

It is the dawn of a new era for the villagers who at the click of a button have been taken from ‘komnyamubambile’ to ’emagetsini’. Mayibongwe’s signature dance speaks of a new day for this village.


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