Domboshawa Training Centre
Domboshawa lies 25 km north of Salisbury in the Chinamora Tribal Trust Land. The highest point is a large granite dome with an altitude of 1 638 m (5,370ft). The area has long been noted for Bushman cave paintings, however its main claim to fame is the national training centre located just west of the dome.
An old building looks out over msasa-strewn veld towards the granite hill from which it derives its name – Domboshawa, “the tawny rock”. Flanked by modern lecture blocks and workshops, and set in 1 800 hectares of farm land, the single-storey structure has lost none of its early dignity. Giant blue gums and grand old jacarandas heighten the sense of tradition which surrounds the Domboshawa Training Centre, first established as a trade and agricultural school in the early 1920s.
The setting is peaceful, but all is activity within and around the institution, for since 1964 this has been the national training centre for community development in Rhodesia. The country’s policy of community development has been one of its finest products. In line with international thinking in this field – this is a process for combining the efforts of people with those of government for the social, economic and cultural advancement of the nation. The policy of community development applies to all communities in Rhodesia. It is not a substitute for national development, but a means to supplement it, using hitherto untapped local resources.
The field of community development is as wide and varied as community life itself, and training at the national centre reflects its broad purpose. In a modern seminar room, equipped with leather chairs in pleasant colouring, a “policy” course is in progress. Colour is a feature of the walls and furnishing, part of the stimulus to learning which the centre provides. The latest in film-projection, slide and sound equipment is available as audio visual aids. A group of officers, drawn from various ministries of government are learning, in a three day seminar, how each may improve his own contribution to the team effort which community development implies. This is part of the “orientation training” given to all cadres of the civil service in an effort to ensure that the policy is implemented with understanding and not merely a policy on paper.
One day of this course will be spent in a tribal district, visiting an African council, meeting the chairman and councillors, and seeing what the council is doing to develop its area. The tour may cover a school, clinic, beer-garden or other council amenity, as well as some project such as a bridge which a local community has completed. Later, when called upon to service an African council or a community board, with technical advice, government moneys, or supplies, these officers will have a realistic appreciation of what is needed, and a sense of personal commitment to their task.
In another corner of the institution you will find a busy class of council secretaries in training, the blackboard permanently ruled for accounting. Nearby, another class, equipped with modern streamlined typewriters, is mastering a Pitman’s course. Before they leave the centre these men must be fully versed in the law relating to African councils, and be able to administer the growing variety of educational, health and other services which these bodies render. The secretaries’ training lasts a year and 240 secretaries have graduated since the institution started. Newly qualified secretaries enter employment with one of the 160 African councils in the country. Their future promotion will hinge largely upon their ability to obtain internationally recognised qualifications by correspondence. A one-week course will be run during the year to help secretaries studying in this way, to relate the correspondence course to practical problems of council administration.
The centre provides a venue and teaching facilities for training conducted by various Ministries for village-level and other workers. It is here that the first community advisers were trained to guide rural people in organising for local betterment, to help them define their needs from local resources, aided wherever necessary with technical or material assistance from government. The policy has been to promote self-help through informal community boards and local government councils – the latter being the key to a continuing basis for local development.
The need for community development is not confined to the rural areas and special training geared to urban problems has been provided for urban community development workers. Their task is to assist in the establishment of African local authorities to deal with some of the social problems affecting urban communities and assume responsibility for minor local services in the townships.
Women form half of the adult population and their influence on development is considerable. Women advisers are specially trained to encourage and advise on women’s organisations, working in close collaboration with voluntary agencies. Their role is to promote leadership and self-reliance and encourage women to engage in community enterprises. Their work involves training in homecrafts, home economics, child care and related fields.
The young people of today are the community leaders of tomorrow. An integral part of the country’s programme for community development is concerned with youth work. Youth supervisors are trained to promote young people’s clubs, working in close collaboration with the Young Farmers and Natural Resources Movement in Rhodesia. Regular courses in club leadership, management and vocational skills are arranged. A major aim of the programme is to provide unemployed school-leavers with a pre-vocational training through which to supplement the family income. Fundamental to the programme is training in citizenship to help young people become “better farmers, better countrymen and better citizens”.
Agricultural extension workers versed in all aspects of animal and land husbandry constitute the largest group of specialist workers in the rural areas and their range of responsibilities is considerable. Their functions vary from advice on fertiliser, seed and pesticides, to cattle-fattening, veld management, forestry and soil conservation. Refresher courses for these men are regularly arranged to keep them abreast of new techniques. In the field they work with tribal land authorities to help communities adopt scientific farming methods and lift themselves above the subsistence level.
Health assistants undergo initial training and regular refresher courses at the centre. An interesting section of the grounds contains examples of incinerators, latrines, and other buildings for simple rural construction.
Trained health assistants travel the rural areas, providing advice on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, inspecting butcheries and other buildings, undertaking immunisations, and giving timely treatment for minor illnesses, injuries, and diseases of public health importance, such as leprosy, tuberculosis and malaria.
Community development training affects not only the agents of government but leaders and members of communities. A substantial part of the work at Domboshawa is concerned with training for African councillors, tribal land authorities, Farmers’ associations, women’s and youth organizations and other groups. African councillors are brought to the centre for training when a council is first established. Local government is a new concept in African tribal areas, and many councillors do not have an adequate idea of their responsibilities. Members of a council attend the course together, are able to bring forward the problems of their locality, and learn about forming committees, and the financing and administration of local services. Periodic refresher courses are organised for council members.
Local government entails new understanding on the part of traditional leaders, who now have a further role, chiefs as ex officio members of all councils in their areas, the remaining members being elected. Tribal leaders’ courses area arranged from time to time to clarify the nature of their new responsibilities and explain the difference between councils, land authorities, tribal courts and other local bodies.
Community development is not only the field of national and local government. Voluntary organizations have an important part to play. Organizations such as women’s clubs, master farmers’ associations, young farmers’ clubs sponsored school boards, and other types of agency make full use of the centre’s facilities.
There are many other groups for whom orientation and skill training is provided – veterinary assistants, supervisors of co-operative societies, school managers, headmasters, teachers, tractor drivers, foresters, farmers and tribesmen. There may be as many as twelve courses being conducted at Domboshawa at any one time. Most are of short duration, three days to a week. But some, for council secretaries and community workers, last as long as a year. Hostel accommodation is available for 288 men and women and a busy shuttle service is kept plying between the training centre and Salisbury, a distance of some 33 kilometres. Last year between 4 000 and 5 000 people attended about 300 courses covering 50 different subjects. This does not include the number of people reached by the mobile training unit attached to the centre which goes out into rural districts, providing essential follow-up training in numerous fields.
The centre is administered by the Branch of Community Development Training which also runs three provincial training institutes situated near Bulawayo, Umtali and Fort Victoria, respectively. Policy in regard to this training is jointly controlled by the Ministries most directly involved in the Rhodesia Government’s policy of community development, namely, the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Local Government and Housing, Education, Health and Agriculture.
The Domboshawa Training Centre provides a unique opportunity for people from all parts of Rhodesia, with many different interests, to come together and gain a greater understanding of their role and the role of others in the challenging process of community development. The motto is aptly inscribed on the centre’s crest – Kubatsirana – helping one another.
Written in 1973 by Joan Collins