Tonga people reject researcher’s claims

BINGA - We, the people known as the BaTonga, write this statement in response to a survey report published by Child Protection Society (CPS)'s advocacy officer, Spiwe Chikosi entitled 'Cultural values promoting the spread of HIV and AIDS - a case of the BaTonga practices'. The report has been

carried on the Kubatana website and Mulonga Forum and accessed by millions/billions of readers all over the world. We have been compelled to respond because we find the article libelous, disgusting, demeaning, denigrating, derogatory, damaging and highly disrespectful of the Tonga as a people.
We reject Child Protection Society’s findings that BaTonga men have to be intimate with their daughters after the first menstrual period to be exorcised of witchcraft and strengthen their magic powers, leading to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Binga. To the BaTonga, this is a clear demonstration of the careless and condescending attitude the CPS has towards the BaTonga people.
We have no doubt in our minds that if CPS were writing about people they held in high esteem they would have taken the time to triangulate the information to verify its reliability, validity and authenticity. Use of multiple research methodologies and enquiring from more sources on the subject before making conclusions should have been essential to the research process. Surely, to think of a cultural practice that condones men sleeping with their daughters, should have been enough to a patriotic, well meaning and conscientious Zimbabwean researcher to make further enquiries to establish the truth before releasing the information in the public domain.
Cases of fathers being intimate with their daughters is not a cultural practice among the BaTonga. If they exist, these are some isolated bizarre stories one can hear of anywhere in the world. We are hearing of this, about BaTonga, from CPS and to paint this as a cultural practice among the BaTonga is unbelievable, and disgusting.
We also reject the finding that BaTonga women smoke marijuana (mbanje) for the purpose of enhancing their libido. In CPS words, ‘women have to smoke mbanje so that they would perform tirelessly in bed having spent the whole day drunk’. The BaTonga people, including interviewees were surprised at the researcher’s dismissive attitude towards the information that was given by the people who were interviewed.
The researcher states in her article that the women she interviewed insisted that they did not smoke mbanje but ordinary tobacco. It was also explained to her that women use a special gourd (inchelwa) and the smoke passes through water, which reduces the strength of tobacco. It was made clear that women did not smoke mbanje, but the researcher was not convinced because these were not the answers she expected to hear. This is reflected clearly when she writes, ‘whatever they smoke seems to have the same effect’- spending the daytime drunk and making women perform tirelessly in bed. This is an insult not only to BaTonga women but to women in Zimbabwe in general.
While we welcome new knowledge which stems from research because it is through such knowledge that solutions to community problems may be found, we reject CPS findings as the research process is flawed and the results spurious and inflammatory. It is unethical to undertake research then to present findings contrary to what the respondents have said. The article is not underpinned with any statistical data. CPS owes the BaTonga people an explanation over what exactly the purpose of this article was. Who benefited from the study and in what way? BaTonga bamuZimbabwe

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