Ngoda is our heritage

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The story of ngoda (diamonds) in Zimbabwe never ceases to fascinate me. A few years ago, thousands of Zimbabweans flocked kumunda (diamond fields) in Chiadzwa, Marange. Since then, Chiadzwa has hogged the limelight for so many reasons. But then this is ngoda and I will continue to name our diamond thus. We will give it our name because ngoda is part of our heritage. It lies in our munda and we should benefit from it. Unconfirmed reports suggest that foreign companies have been carrying large quantities of ivhu (gravel) to South Africa for over fifteen years claiming that they were prospecting. Maybe this is unfounded speculation, but that is beside the point. Chiadzwa is awash with ngoda, alluvial diamonds, and this is a secret that big mining houses knew for years and quietly scooped hundreds of tonnes of gravel (mutaka) over the years under the pretext of testing samples. How many tonnes of mutaka were ferried away? How many carats were extracted from this? Who is accountable for the looting and to whom were the diamonds sold? As Zimbabweans, we need answers to these questions. These mining houses invaded our fields under the pretext of collecting samples and carried away tonnes. In simple language, taking away property without the owner’s permission is called looting. Under the cover of a maze of legal documents and complex regulations that boggle the layman’s mind, hundreds if not thousands of carats were spirited away under our own eyes and noses. Where was the Kimberley Process when these diamonds were looted? Did they have an export licence? Did the Chiadzwa community and the nation benefit from this? Someone, somewhere should answer for this. The munda of Chiadzwa was opened up to the wider populace of the Zimbabwean community in 2007/2008. These were Zimbabweans accessing their ngoda in their own field. They entered the munda and crowded out the ‘prospectors’ who had been extracting samples for over 15 years. They were denigrated and called all sorts of names by the ‘civilised’ community who saw the problem through the Kimberly’s lens. Some called them Makorokoza, others called them Gweja and the women were called Gwejeline. The hardcore group was called the Mashurugwi. It is alleged a Mushurugwi did not hesitate to disembowel you if you swallowed ngoda. Like peasants in the land reform, these people were taking over their own resources that were being plundered by foreign Gwejas for a long time. Ngoda in Chiadzwa and elsewhere in Zimbabwe belongs to Zimbabweans and it is their birthright, their heritage. The process of extraction naturally became chaotic in the free-for-all situation. Naturally Government had to step in to control and regulate the process of extraction and marketing of ngoda. This created uproar in the Western world and Government was accused of violating human rights. Suddenly human rights became a critical issue in Chiadzwa. Where were these activists when thousands died in the Congo, Darfur, Rwanda and Kosovo? Where was Kimberley (whoever s/he is) before the Zimbabwean Government decided to control the extraction? The aftermath is more complex. The Kimberley Process is now important and now wants to control the marketing of Zimbabwe ngoda. Any ngoda sold outside this process is called blood diamonds. Because Zimbabweans have decided to take control of their wealth, they are now illegally operating outside some economically suffocating process called Kimberly. As Zimbabweans went through land reform, they were called squatters, invaders and other demeaning terms. We see echoes of this when Zimbabweans enter their munda, extracting their own ngoda. The munda at Chiadzwa and elsewhere is ours, the ngoda in it belongs to us and no other nation can dictate to us how we manage our resources on the surface of the land and below it. This is our heritage.

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