In most cases the world’s ethnic minorities have struggled to attain recognition. They have not been fully accommodated in countries they purport to belong to. These groups have quite distinct and fascinating life experiences which have been interpreted differently. These groups are prone to marginalization, exclusion, labelling and stereotyping. These have prevented ethnic minorities from participating in development.
Therefore with development in mind the study will contribute immensely in highlighting the need to be tolerant towards every ethnic groups so as to pave way for an even pattern of development that is according equal opportunities to all groups. MacDougal (2010) if minorities are not included in sectors such as the economic they will remain an untapped resource in terms of promoting development for entire communities, regions or countries. For example it is a popular notion that all inclusive ethnic work teams help to promote positive group relations and that an ethnically mixed workplace has a higher impact on positive ethnic relations and productivity. He further notes that if minorities continue to be under- educated, underpaid and under-employed because of marginalisation or blocked access to opportunities the entire country will fail to realise development ,and this might have possible negative effects on the rest of the country and neighbouring countries as well regardless of their culture. Therefore appreciation of all ethnic groups will ensure an all-inclusive development process in which every ethnic group and its region of habitation will benefit. Thus the study will benefit the development drive.
The study will also act as a voice for the focussed group that is the BaTonga as well as other ethnic minorities groups. They are an ethnic group in Zimbabwe and just like other minorities across the globe they have been subjected to stereotyping and deprivation of opportunities for very long periods and it has become a global concern. With this in mind the study will be of great significance to all the stakeholders involved in the topical issues. These include the policy makers namely the government as it has the obligation to put in place policies which will ensure the promotion of development amongst ethnic minorities . Therefore the study will be of great significance to the policy makers as it will assess the extent to which their policies have gone in addressing the problem hence identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the interventions made.
Besides the policy makers the study will also be significant to the various groups like non-governmental organisations and advocacy groups which have put their efforts towards the attainment of full recognition and the development of the BaTonga. Therefore the study will also benefit the general populace as it also aims to encourage the appreciation of the cultural diversity in Zimbabwe.
The study was largely conducted in Binga district particularly at the growth centre .It is located in Matabeleland North province along the shores of lake Kariba. This is where the majority of the BaTonga reside and has a population estimated to be around 300 000. Binga centre is also were also most of the concerned parties are based like district government offices, non-governmental organisations, political representatives and other influential members of the society are based
MAP OF BINGA DISTRICT
A number of literary works have been produced on ethnic minorities. Most studies have largely focussed on their plight that is their experiences and present situations as well as characterising them. Ethnic minorities have been portrayed in different ways by different pieces of literature. Most literary works focused on ethnic minorities as a hindrance to the dominant development paradigms because of their perceived primitivity and backwardness.
Robert Hitchcock and Vinding (2004) point out those ethnic minorities in most cases are viewed as representing some degree of primitivity. They are also presented as victims of developmental projects that usually take place at the expense of their social well-being. Both historically and presently ethnic minorities have been displaced to pave way for developmental projects like dam construction, game reserves and mining operations. Due to their strong attachment to their cultures and traditional territories these groups have always been at loggerheads with their governments for their reluctance to adapt to the new environments. This has resulted in most ethnic minorities being labelled as backward and ignorant towards modern day development. Therefore with scenarios most ethnic minorities have been marginalised and excluded from the developmental process. They are usually denied equal access to resources and representation
Rita Izsak (2012) the United Nations independent expert minority issues bring to such light the topical issue in her report on minority groups. She states that minority groups are deteriorating at a worrying rate and that not enough is being done to protect and preserve them. She attributes this to factors such as assimilation and cultural dilution. Izsak also points out that in most cases these cultures are also eroded as a result of the failure by states to protect the rights of ethnic minorities. She also stresses historical experiences like colonisation which have resulted in marginalization and a decline in the use of indigenous languages.
Conceptualisation of Development Amongst Ethnic Minorities
According to MacDougal (2010) modernisation and industrialisation developmental models have often resulted in the destruction of ethnic minorities political, economic, social, cultural, education, health, spiritual and indigenous knowledge systems as well as extraction of their natural resources. Notable examples of the problem between dominant development models and minority peoples are that ethnic minorities have often been regarded as backward, primitive and uncivilized, and their development is understood to be their assimilation into the so called civilized systems. Ethnic minorities’ cultural values and norms are usually taken as challenges to the values of the market economy which include the maximisation of profits, high levels of consumption and competitiveness. Ethnic minorities are seen as obstacles to progress or development because their lands and territories are rich in resources and they usually are not willing to pave way for developmental or commercial activities. In many countries, the history and the continuing practice of assimilation has resulted in blanket public policies that have excluded minorities and are discriminatory with respect to their cultures and identities.
Various literary works have also brought to light the issue of development and ethnic minority. They have tried to conceptualise development that is more feasible for ethnic minorities which may differ from the common development models. Loury (2000) also notes that the need to realise economic growth at all costs is not only destructive for ethnic minorities but also to the rest of the world. The focus on GDP as a main measure of development has distorted the true meaning of progress and wellbeing. For example, damage to the natural environment and the erosion of cultural and linguistic diversity and indigenous traditional knowledge are usually excluded when measuring progress. Such ecological, cultural, social and spiritual indicators, which provide more comprehensive measurements of national and global situations, are not often used.
He further notes that ethnic minorities’ conceptualisation of well-being are sustainability, self-determination and development with culture and identity. The failure of the dominant development paradigm, as evidenced by the perennial global developmental challenges like climate change and the erosion of biological diversity, signals the need to resort to different minds when pursuing development. Development that embraces both culture and identity is characterized by an integrative approach that builds on collective rights, security and greater control and self-governance of territories and natural resources. It builds on tradition, with respect for ancestors, but is also forward-looking. It includes social, cultural, political and spiritual systems.
Robinson (2002 ethnic minorities conceptualisation of development have a number of common characteristics which include the importance of collective economic actors and community economic institutions integrity of indigenous governance, purpose of production should not only be considered in terms of profit but rather in terms of improving quality of life enriching the notion of development where human beings are in harmony with the natural environment, self-determination interaction between people, resources and the spiritual aspects of life
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Religious Linguistic and Ethnic Minorities (1992) serves to provide the grounds upon which ethnic minorities can ascertain their rights and define their aspirations in their relations with states and corporations around development with culture and identity. The declaration also provides states with an internationally accepted guideline on the issues of development and ethnic minorities
The Declaration recognizes that ethnic minorities have the right to self-determination and that states have to take into consideration the reality and that persons belonging to minority groups struggle in market driven economies. Policies, institutions and systems established by states for developmental purposes must cater for diversity and plurality and the coexistence of indigenous governance, economic, social, education, cultural, and knowledge systems right to self-determination. The declaration further states that in their quest for well-being and sustainability ethnic minorities should reassert their identities by restoring and revitalizing their cultures, priorities and perspectives. This is in accordance with their