The Zimbabwean Quails That We Knew

Hearty greetings from everyone in the village in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, and most strongly from village elders, the ageless autochthons of wisdom and knowledge.

Villagers here are very much surprised that the whole nation has been engrossed in a fierce debate on quail birds, the small hard-runners, forever deceptive, elusive and hard to catch, but delicious when finally stewed in the pot.

Quails have been the talk in kombis, in buses, in cars, in the blankets, on national radio, TV and newspapers, in Government and quasi-government, in schools and indeed in Parliament and little everywhere else.

We, the villagers, have lived with quails and eaten them when able to catch them. We know they are a delicacy.

We had never unlocked the economic value of quails until the Japanese version of the birds hit our country.
The Zimbabwean Quails That We Knew
Knowing how hard it is to catch the small bird and indeed, oblivious of the fact that an animal with a famous name does not fill up a hunter’s basket, we got excited that at least the bird has been monitised. We therefore quickly embraced the project and found ourselves working in cahoots with urban counterparts with incubators to increase the quail population.

We, therefore, do not understand the umbrage against the trade of quails, except that it was a figment of someone’s imagination who thinks bush quails in Zimbabwe can be easily caught and domesticated. The Zimbabwean quail only lays two eggs at a time before hatching. The Japanese ones go up to 300 eggs, at an egg per day.

Several women, for your information, have in the past year or so been able to eke a living out of the trade of quails, quail eggs and quail chicks.

Children have had their school fees paid in full, rentals and medical bills have been paid through quail proceeds.

With jobs hard to come by and indeed, with prevailing economic hardships, we found cash circulating around quail birds, their meat, their day-old-chicks and indeed their eggs.

All along we the villagers, have been hoping that Environment Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (never mind the meaning of her last name- the small bird) was misquoted until Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, corrected the situation in Parliament.

It is fact not fiction that after Minister Muchinguri’s statement, there was outrage among quail farmers, who saw an opportunity to make cash and eke out a living, taken away from them.

Most importantly, many farmers thought someone had mischievously misinformed the good Minister, given her reputation as a people-centric and astute politician, known for promoting community development projects.
We, the villagers, do appreciate the need to regulate the business but the starting point should surely be appreciating the monetary value the small birds have brought to our families.

Another point is that, the quails in question are Japanese and not Zimbabwean by origin, all the same even if someone had taken the eggs from the bush, (which we did not) the quails are our national heritage and ZIM-ASSET obviously favours that.

Karitundundu, the ageless village autochthon says history would judge out generation harshly if we fail to recognise that even cattle that we so much value, were once wild animals, and so are the dogs, donkeys, horses and every livestock we keep today. Someone tamed them first.

We are not very educated as villagers, but we can easily count our fingers, after which, village mathematics informs us that pricing regimes are affected by demand and supply. Soon the prices of quails are going to fall due to high supply.

So the worry about high prices falls off. But why would a whole Government ministry be worried about the prices of a small bird?

When we heard about the ban that-never-was, we were taken aback, because back in the village, we have tamed guinea fowl (hanga) and traded in them for many years but we have not heard of a ban.
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