Langalakhe Mabena, in Nkayi
SOME say kusemaguswini (thick forest), some even say kuko mnyama ubambile (a very dark place with no light), but those days are coming to an end in the Nkayi rural lifestyle in Matabeleland North province as modernisation is quickly catching up with them through the construction of modern and leafy homesteads.
If one last visited Nkayi before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, once they visit now they will be surprised with the shape most rural areas in Nkayi are slowly taking.
The sons and daughters of Nkayi based in the diaspora and even some locally based are investing in their place of birth, through modern construction of their homesteads and even urban houses (at Nkayi Centre), something that is greatly recommended in improving the lives of the locals.
The major facelift on Nkayi that B-Metro crew visited is in Ward 27 in Silobela, under Chief Malisa with the headman being Desire Mangena.
In this area, you find most modern houses furnished with solar systems and boreholes which sustain them with water for their household chores, for livestock and for their agricultural activities.
The major highlight of the area is an eight-roomed double storey which belongs to one Nkayi-born and bred daughter who is based in South Africa.
One expects to find such a beautiful mansion in suburbs for the affluent such as Bulawayo’s Selborne Park or Borrowdale Brooke in Harare.
The double storey complements the rest of the modern homesteads in Silobela as it is the epitome of development for a rural area.
All the dreams of the Nkayi-bred Diasporans who modernise their homesteads were made possible by Mjimba Construction Company, which is owned by local businessman Bigboy Mjimba.
Mjimba, a former teacher at Nkayi High School, quit his full time job in 2019 to start a construction company, which has become a force to reckon with in terms of developing and modernisation of Nkayi.
The company is responsible for construction of almost all the homesteads and modern houses that are found in Nkayi.
Bigboy Mjimba said he had to face his fears in quitting his teaching job to start a company which would have a full focus on supplying building material and building houses.
“After having been a teacher for 12 years at Nkayi High School, I decided to grow and face my fears and in doing that I had to quit my full time job in order to chase my dream. In 2019, I then formed Mjimba Construction Company. When it started I recruited three guys.
“With a single vehicle then, we started the company which was able to supply and build houses in rural areas. Our first client was at Manomano in Nkayi and he was based in South Africa.
“We built a two roomed house for him and we supplied the material. He was very happy and people around his homestead fell in love with our craft. That was the beginning of a long journey,” said Mjimba whose company also constructed Tshibilika musician Skhosana Buhlungu’s homestead.
Mjimba gave thanks to the digital era as through social media, he was able to market his works and services which attracted Diasporans who were born in Nkayi to develop their place of birth.
“We shared our successes on social media and it attracted people in the diaspora as our message was clear; to tell them that you can build a house here at home even if you are in the diaspora. People sent us money for their projects and we would fulfill our mandate and construct buildings of their choice.
“After that we invaded the urban market. We increased the number of builders as we recruited some of the local youths who came from South Africa, who had a background in construction. In Nkayi urban, we piloted our first urban project and we coined it the Blue Roof. It belongs to our client who is based in Australia and it took us a year to complete.
“With more clients coming our way, we then got a client based in South Africa, who requested us to build her a double storey in Nkayi rural at Silobela under Chief Malisa.
“Even though it was our first project of that nature, it wasn’t that hard for us to construct the double storey as we had now employed guys from Mzansi who knew how to handle and construct such buildings,” said Mjimba.
The double storey is profound for Mjimba Construction. It is their point of reference to any client who requests for their services.
“This is the first double storey in Nkayi and we are happy that we have piloted and came up with new modern designs in rural Nkayi. It took us four months to complete the project and with the look of things, the double storey has given us more and more clients as we are always booked for construction.
“We are happy with the development of Nkayi because most people say kuko mnyama ubambile. We have seen these new designs that we are doing here in places like Tsholotsho and Plumtree.
“But we encourage Nkayi-born people who are both local and in the diaspora that anything is possible to build their dream houses in their rural homes. We are here to make sure that their dreams come to reality,” said Mjimba.
To date the company has employed 17 people and they are looking forward to expanding depending on the demand for their works and services.