Re­flec­tion of di­ver­sity of so­cio-cul­tural val­ues

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

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. sg­

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