A British Council Next Generation 2019 Study released in January 2020 has revealed that most youths in south – western Zimbabwe have strong ties to their local communities than to the nation as a whole.
According to the study that was conducted in all provinces of Zimbabwe, young people were asked about their feelings of belonging in their communities. “The study found that in issues of belonging there were conflicting views between and within individuals. There are some youths who had a sense of belonging to their communities but did not feel the same about the country. This was mainly in the south-western parts of the country, where young people strongly perceived the lack of development in their communities as systematic marginalisation driven by regionalism. The strong attachment to their communities was also linked with their cultural identity” the study reveals.
The study further reveals that Bulawayo has the highest percentage of youths who feel they belong to the province at 97%, followed by Matabeleland North at 76.9%, then Masvingo at 76.6%, then Mashonaland East at 76.1%. Overally national belonging is at 64.2% among the youths.
The study further noted some youths sentiments which include:
‘Do not ask me about Zimbabwe. I don’t know Zimbabwe but I know Lupane. Lupane is my home and I would not want to trade it for any other place.’ FGD participant, Lupane, Matabeleland North province, 2019
‘For some of us, it is as if we do not live in Zimbabwe because we don’t see any benefits from the government. When it comes to jobs and opportunities it is always the youth in Mashonaland that benefit. We are surviving on things we get in our community and this community has supported us very well […] but not Zimbabwe.’ FGD participant, Binga, Matabeleland North province, 2019
‘For me, it would be difficult to live anywhere else in this country. I cannot see myself leaving Gwanda for any other place in Zimbabwe.’ FGD participant, Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, 2019
It is sad that the government of Zimbabwe that is desperately clinging to centralized power and refusing to devolve, does not realize that too much centralization of power has alienated youths from nationhood.