BARRICK Gold President and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Bristow made history this week as the first investor in Tanzania to be installed as a Sukuma Chief of Bulyanhulu, where one of the company’s subsidiaries, Bulyanhulu Gold Mine is located.
The honor to accord him the title was reached by the community leaders due contributions the mine is making to the community that impact their lives positively.
Speaking at the installation ceremony on Wednesday in Bulyanhulu, Kahama District, the Chairman of Igwamanoni village Maige Mahona, said the Bulyanhulu community is honored to host the mine and they were happy that the mine is living with them as part of the community member.
“In our society a member is expected to give full support to each other through thick and thin. As a loyal member of our community, Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, through your leadership have constantly been giving a generous and supportive hand to our community that impacted us positively and serving for a better future of our community,” said Mahona The Kisukuma word for chief, Ntemi, derives from the verb Kutema and literally means to cut down trees or to clear bush.
This recalls the role of the early chiefs in blessing the land at the beginning of each cultivation season, when the land was cleared and could also refer to the cutting short of arguments following an important discussion by village elders. Receiving the honor, the new Sukuma chief, Bristow said he appreciated the honor accorded to him “from the bottom of my Zulu heart.” “I was born in Zululand South Africa, so I am an African. In Zulu there is a saying that ‘you can’t wash your hand with one hand’ you need both hands.
Together with the community we can work together, I promise you the mine will support and work hand in hand with you so we all succeed,” he said.
Under his stewardship Barrick Gold took over control of Bulyanhulu and North Mara Gold Mines in 2019, which had completely transformed what were effectively dead or dying operations into valuable assets in terms of their current performance, their future prospects and their social licence.
Contribution to Bulyanhulu community
Bulyanhulu Gold Mine through Corporate Social Responsibility projects has upgraded the then small Bugarama Dispensary into Health center with modern facilities.
The upgrading involved construction of maternity, outpatient department (OPD), general ward, theater, radiology and mortuary buildings. Before upgrading, the dispensary had the daily capacity of attending 15 – 25 patients.
The health center is now attending 50 – 100 out patients a day. The number of women giving birth per month is between 250 -300 out of which 20 – 30 undergo surgical operation.
The completion of the radiology building which is now under construction will put the center in position to offer x – ray and ultrasound services which can be accessed at Kahama District Hospital that is 80 kilometers away.
The Bugarama Health Center now serves as a referral point of 10 dispensaries and two health centers, the mine has also contributed to the construction of 24 dispensaries in Kahama and Nyang’wale districts.
On education the construction of Bulyanhulu Girls Secondary, a modern boarding school of its kind built under the full sponsorship of Bulyanhulu Gold Mine through Corporate Social Responsibility, is one of the great development hallmark to the people of Kahama and Nyang’hwale, the two districts whose communities borders the mine.
The school, which is in the final stage of construction ready to start enrolling students in January 2024, will be groundbreaking for girl’s education in the area where gender stereotypes and education inequality is prevalent. This provides the most suitable environment for girls to gain an education by catering to all their essential needs.
The school is expected to be safe for girls as it all the major safety concerns would have been taken care of. The twelve classroom school, located at Busulwangili village in Kahama district, will start with all necessary facilities like the administration block that consists of the head of School office, second master/mistress office, teacher’s office, accountant office, procurement office and general office.
It will also consist of two dormitories with the capacity of accommodating 80 students each, a dining hall, two science laboratories, two – two in one teachers houses and 8 toilets holes.
“Each dormitory has 20 rooms and each room will accommodate four students, the aim is to ensure that girls are well accommodated so they concentrate on making their dreams come true,” says James Mutasa, the teacher who supervises the construction of the school.
As a clue to what extent Bulyanhulu Gold Mine is resolute on girls’ education, the school already has 320 pairs of chairs and tables, waiting for the girls to start scripting their future come January 2023.
Bulynahulu boarding school offers an all-girls boarding school advantages as there will be a greater sense of liberation in interaction that prevails in such educational institutions.
“Specific stereotypes and gender-bias regarding the abilities of the girls do not exist in an all-girls boarding schools and the school will support them get extra opportunities to discover their talents and interests,” said Mr Mutasa. “Education for girls is more than access to school. It is also about girls feeling safe in classrooms and supported in the subjects and careers they choose to pursue, including those in which they are often underrepresented,” he said.
By keeping the girls at school the Barrick subsidiary is relieving girls with adult responsibilities, like taking care of sick parents or babysitting siblings which tend to fall on girls at home.
Around the world, girls spend 40 per cent more time performing domestic chores, including cooking, cleaning, and collecting water and firewood, than boys. Some of these chores put girls in danger of encountering sexual violence.
Bulyanhulu Girls boarding school will save the girls in the mine neighboring community from gender-based violence which takes many forms, including physical and sexual abuse, harassment, and bullying.
The move will keep them from risks associated with day schooling like rape, coercion, discrimination, and other types of abuse that affects girls’ education by lowering their participation and achievements, that increases absenteeism and dropout rates. Parents are less likely to let their daughters travel to school if they have to travel long unsafe distances.
By keeping girls in boarding school Bulyanhulu Gold Mine supports economic growth, promotes peace, and even helps fight climate change. To protect future generations, the nation must first invest in resources and policies that help prevent the obstacles for girls‘ education.
According Mahona investing in health and education projects means that the mine even investing sustainably for the better future of the community.
“That’s why we thought it was important for us as communities leaders on behalf of our people to offer an everlasting honor to person who takes the driver’s sit to create a better future for us,” says Mahona.