NESTLING on the foothills of a hillock on a mountain range in Mugabe Village, Masvingo, is a large, brightly coloured and very conspicuous mansion.
Passers-by are naturally drawn by the magnificence and opulence of this “unusually” large house. Painted in bright yellow, the 37-roomed property boasts large windows and an equally colourful blue roof.
Its brightly lit environs, which give a rare sparkle to this otherwise quiet and serene area, are hard to miss at night, even from afar.
Unbeknown to many, the mansion even has an underground bunker. Businessman Dr Richard Wangu Mazodze, who is currently based in the United States, calls this his rural home.
Zimbabweans have always been proud of their rural homes. After working for many years in urban areas, most people have a tendency of building modest houses in rural areas where they often settle after retiring.
However, over the years, some people now favour the hustle and bustle of the city. Most rural areas have suffered as a result. But Dr Mazodze and many people like him are bucking the trend.
The construction of the multi-million-dollar mansion and establishment of a thriving
business enterprise in this remote part of Masvingo serves as a shining example of how locals can develop their “roots” and embark on thriving and profitable rural enterprises.
Dr Mazodze’s homestead, which also serves as the headquarters of Wangu Mazodze Football Team, a Division One club that the Doctor’s family sponsors, is a shining example of how Zimbabweans of means can help develop rural communities.
With most of its players drawn from surrounding areas, the colourful outfit, which is fondly known as “The Kingdom Boys”, has won the hearts of the community.
Last week, The Sunday Mail Society had the rare opportunity of touring the imposing structure, which locals fondly refer to as “The Kingdom”.
Apart from the maze of well-furnished bedrooms, it also has several entertainment areas, a boardroom, dining rooms, a reception area and several offices.
An expensively furnished “ball room”, where the team relaxes before and after matches, is located right in the middle of the imposing mansion.
Blessing Kwesha, who is in charge of operations at “The Kingdom”, explained why such a massive building was planted right in the middle of “nowhere”.
“The problem with some of us is that we think that one cannot operate a major business from rural areas. Apart from being the headquarters of our Division One team, this rural homestead is also the administrative hub of the several businesses that we run,” Kwesha, who dumped the comforts of staying in Masvingo town and settled in Mugabe Village, said.
Apart from managing the football team, he is also responsible for hiring musical acts that regularly perform at the homestead.
“As you can see, we turned the basketball court into a musical stage. Gospel musicians Baba na Mai Charamba are regular performers here and so is Mathias Mhere, Mechanic Manyeruke and Juntal.”
Next to the improvised stage is a gym where players work out when they are in camp. The house is a hive of activity.
Mike Paul, the local village head, applauded Dr Mazodze for pursuing developmental projects in the community.
“The setting up of the football team created employment for locals. Since this area is dry and semi-arid, the community fetches water from this homestead. Most importantly, the construction of such a massive structure in our area resulted in some of the locals that had abandoned their rural homes to come back,” Paul said.
Part of the staff complement at the homestead includes drivers, guards, caretakers, mechanics, builders, administrators and plumbers.
Goodwin Dumbu, a local school teacher who also doubles as the FC Wangu Mazodze assistant coach, said the future looks bright.
“For nine years, I have been working with children as a sports resource teacher. The setting up of this football club has contributed immensely to the development of the community. The youngsters are particularly excited,” Dumbu said.
Mako Chakwesha, a local businessman and staunch supporter of the local team, called on locals to invest in their rural areas.
“I observed that many people spend most of their time and energy focusing on their homes and investments in urban centres.
“These same people will then be buried at their underdeveloped rural homes when they die. This must change,” he said.
– Sunday Mail