The driver was walking around the village. I approached him and asked: ‘Who is the bearded stranger?’. ‘Someone from Europe,’ was the simple answer. I took his arm and led him to my hut where we exchanged news and drank some millet beer. Although he wasn’t from this district, Gokwe North, the driver knew how the current drought would be affecting us and he was a sympathetic ear. He also understood the ways of the International NGO he was working for and I could imagine that, never mind in which district of Zimbabwe he was driving, he was always friendly to the villagers and interested in their situation.
That took place yesterday, when the driver had brought the stranger on the long drive from Harare with some of the workers from the NGO which has been supplying us with food and support. Today we are all sitting out under the village granary, sadly almost empty, going through what the NGO workers call a post-distribution monitoring. As the village chief, I understand the need for this: there could always be suspicion that a chief favoured himself and his relatives during a food distribution. Not here in Nembudzia though: I could confirm that the right families had received the right food and supplies, and they were, praise God, doing better.
The NGO workers will get from me all the information they ask for; yet I can be sure that the only information I will receive from the harried NGO workers will relate to the food distribution: yesterday’s Nembudzia reports and tomorrow’s Nembudzia needs. It has always been clear to me that the best-informed and most important contact in the NGO set-up, for me, was the driver.