Reflection of diversity of socio-cultural values
STRONG opposition by some Mpopoma high density suburb residents to a proposal to turn the Goveya commercial building, formerly a supermarket, into a night club reflects the diversity of the socio-cultural values of the people of Bulawayo. Not only does it tell us about how the people of Bulawayo think or feel about their social and cultural environment, but it is, to all intents and purposes, a sentimental mirror image of Zimbabwe in microcosm as well.
The building is at the south-western corner of Mpopoma’s Block Six, a part of which is occupied by Gampu Primary School.
Goveya building has always been either a grocery wholesale or a retail outlet. It is an integral part of Block Six, a residential area.
Turning it into a night club would create an entirely new social factor in that part of Mpopoma. An aspect of that new factor would be economic-financial in nature in that whereas grocery outlets sell commodities that are vital for the maintenance of human life, night clubs sell mostly beverages that are habit-forming, drugs in effect.
Night clubs play a negative role in poverty alleviation in that many people addicted to alcoholic beverages and/or other potable or edible drugs spend their hard earned cash at those places, leaving their families in dire need and tearful misery.
The night club owner may live in ostentatious luxury and comfort as an individual or with his or her family, but that would certainly not be the case with those who patronise his joint or joints, and they are the majority.
Since poverty alleviation aims at primarily monetary wealth, money spent by an individual on himself or herself for purely self-satisfaction such as at night clubs plays the opposite of poverty alleviation. Nations develop on the basis of economic, social, cultural and political strengths.
While schools, hospitals and sports facilities are social strengths, night clubs are weaknesses as they are responsible for the destruction or disruption of families, for drunkenness that causes crimes such as rapes, robberies, road traffic accidents, burglaries, murders and thefts especially of motor vehicles.
Many people lose their jobs because of absenteeism due to drunkenness, and night clubs are to blame. Loss of jobs contributes to poverty. We must remember that night clubs are not labour-intensive commercial undertakings. An average sized night club is run by usually not more than six or so employees, whose earnings sustain about 60 people.
But it will serve an average of 60 to 80 clients per night, at least and ruin the social and economic welfare of about 360 to 480 people who are members of the clients’ families or households.
Zimbabwe is only 36 years old, a very, very young age by global historical standards. It is actually in the process of establishing its own socio-cultural standards.
That process involves legislative as well as political, economic policy measures aimed at the creation of a healthy, happy and prosperous country.
Night clubs are centres of illegal distribution, consumption and utilisation of illicit drugs and sexual services, the latter being provided by prostitutes, a mercenary group of people without any self-esteem, sense of shame nor any respect of public opinion about their immoral actions.
A proliferation of night clubs cannot create such a community. It can only lead to destitution and misery.
National leaders of whatever category (cultural, social, economic and political) have a very grave responsibility to protect those they lead against their very selves, that is to say, people have to be protected against themselves.
That is because ignorance can lead to self-harm. We have seen that happen in the case of those opposed to prophylactic vaccinations against poliomyelitis, small pox, diphtheria and measles.
Councillors have a wide range of legal duties, and they include the authorisation of the establishment of bars and bottle stores. It is extremely important to rationalise that process in each ward and/or constituency.
If within a five kilometre radius there are 10 bottle stores and 10 night clubs, such an area is bound to have a higher crime and destitution incidence than one with much fewer of those facilities.
A high drunkenness incidence in a community is not a sign or result of social advancement or process, but that of moral degeneration and gross financial mismanagement at individual level in particular and at family level in general. Drunkenness is a social weakness.
A young nation such as Zimbabwe cannot afford to lose its young brains through debauchery especially in the wake of thousands of people, most of when were young, who were killed by the HIV/Aids pandemic in the past 30 or so years.
This opinion article should not be misinterpreted to mean or imply that Zimbabweans should abstain from the consumption of alcoholic beverages as that is neither practicable, desirable as it may be.
All that the article is calling for is moderation in the consumption of such alcoholic beverages, and respect for people’s privacy, peace and quiet in the location of bars, night clubs and bottle stores.
It is insensitive and inconsiderate to locate a bar, or night club in a residential area. That is because it is morally and emotionally wrong for children to repeatedly see or hear drunk people some of whom may be using vulgar language, others may be lewd in their behaviour, yet some may be violent in words and deeds.
Residential houses that are very near night clubs, or bars lose their commercial values. That applies to villages in the rural areas as well.
They may not have the usual commercial value as is the case in urban environments, but they do command traditional social prestige and cultural respect. Both these are compromised and undermined if they are near a place frequented by drunken people.
MPs should craft legislation stipulating that commercial centres should be a discreet distance away from communities.
Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayobased journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. firstname.lastname@example.org