We have engaged in a wide range of activities to both support our Sister City and to find ways to prevent HIV infection, care for the sick, increase economic development efforts, especially among those living with AIDS, and ensure that students continue to have access to education.
Some of our efforts over the years:
- Family Aid Support Organization (FASO)
- Building a Clinic
- St. Werburgh’s Community Clinic
- AIDS in Zimbabwe
- Trips to Zimbabwe
- Community Efforts
- Tangible Connection
- Help for the deaf
- Assistance to the terminally ill
- Support for animal welfare
In 1991, long-time Portland resident Clifford Walker founded the Portland-Mutare Sister City Association (PMSCA) with Mutare Mayor Enoch Msabaeka in an act of global solidarity against apartheid.
He was moved to action after receiving a letter forwarded to him by the US Embassy written by Veronicah Nyoni, the headmistress of a primary school in rural Mutare. She requested assistance from anyone in the US who might be able to supply badly needed text books to her students. Soon after, Clifford made his first visit to Mutare. With a visit to Portland by Zimbabwe’s ambassador and critical assistance from then Mayor Bud Clark, the partnership was launched.
Since then, citizens from Portland and Mutare have made trips back and forth, learning from and working with each other. Over the years, Portland’s efforts in Mutare have focused on teaching new techniques for agriculture, ongoing support for educational needs and orphan education, development of a health clinic and empowerment of people living with HIV/AIDS.
With a current volunteer leadership of 19 members including the Board of Directors, the Portland-Mutare Sister City Association is vigorously pursuing efforts on several fronts to fulfill its mission of mutual support between Portland and Mutare. With Zimbabwe’s economic decline and the current international focus on Africa and the AIDS pandemic, we find ourselves at an unusual place: strong connections with community leaders, in a part of Africa with some of the greatest needs, and an infrastructure in place in Portland and Mutare that has a successful history of medical, educational, and cultural outreach and exchange. It is our goal to be guided by the community in Mutare in our continued response and to keep the citizens of Portland aware and involved. We believe that the Portland-Mutare Sister City Association is a model for effective, grassroots community to community response.
Zimbabwe is often referred to as the Jewel of Africa, and Mutare, as a city, serves as an example of just that. Located high in the beautiful Eastern Highlands on the border of Mozambique, Mutare is the gateway to the Indian Ocean. It is clean, modern and very close to many of Zimbabwe’s outstanding tourist attractions. The city of Mutare is located right on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. For this reason, it has always been considered the country’s gateway to the sea. The Beira Corridor, a comprehensive link to the Mozambican port of Beira just 3 hours has away, has opened up tremendous business opportunities in Mutare. In addition to being close to the port of Beira, only 290 kilometres away, Mutare is adequately served by an excellent communications network. Wide tar roads connect the city with the rest of the interior country. Daily and efficient passenger and goods trains link the city to the towns of Nyazura, Rusape, Marondera and Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
Area and Population
Mutare urban occupies an area of 16,700 hectares and has a population of more than 150,000 inhabitants. The town lies north of the Bvumba Mountains and south of the Imbeza Valley. Being the provincial capital of Zimbabwe’s most populous province of Manicaland, the city is a focal point for more than a million people.
The population is predominantly Shona. The Shona are a peaceful, loving people and very accepting of foreign visitors. Although somewhat masked by the urban setting, the people of Mutare still very much live the old traditions handed down through the generations. Respect for each other, elders, family and so on is prevalent amongst the Shona, and reflected in their warm gentle way. As with most Africans, the Shona endured endless pain due to colonialism, but since Independence in 1980 they’ve slowly returned to their rightful place, and regained their dignity as a strong and powerful people.
Abundance of Resources
The city of Mutare is surrounded by a diverse resource base which offers immense opportunities for investment in a wide range of industrial and commercial activities. Some of the resources are:
- Forestry Mutare is situated in the heart of Zimbabwe’s timber growing areas. The timber resources range from softwoods such as pines to hardwoods which include mahogany and mukwa. This makes Mutare the ideal location for any type of timber based industries such as board and paper, joinery, roof trusses, and furniture manufacturing operations for both local and export markets.
- Agricultural produce. Mutare’s environs are richly endowed with a wide variety of quality agricultural produce particularly vegetables and fruits. These include apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, tomatoes, peas, and beans. This sets Mutare as the logical location for agro-processing industries for canning, freeze-drying and packing these resources. Other agricultural produce include tea, coffee, wheat, cotton and tobacco. Processing factories, textile industries and tobacco auction floors have developed and opportunities exist for the establishment of up and down stream linkages with these industries.
Education, Training, & Art
Mutare has some of the finest education and manpower training facilities in the country. These are:
- The Zimbabwe College of Forestry
- Mutare Polytechnic College
- Africa University
- Mary Mount Teachers College
- Mutare Teachers College
- A number of private commercial colleges.
It is home to the Mutare Museum, the Utopia House Museum dedicated to Kingsley Fairbridge, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Murahwa Hill, known for its rock paintings and Iron Age village, Cross Kopje with a memorial to Zimbabweans and Mozambiqueans killed in World War I and a nature reserve. It is also home to the Africa University, a pan-African university of about 1,200 students. Mutare is served by rail with daily passenger and freight links to the towns of Nyazura, Rusape and Harare.
Manicaland, including the hinterland of Mutare, has clearly the widest range of excellent tourist resorts and facilities in Zimbabwe. These include Nyanga mountains for excellent game viewing, scenic views and mountain climbing and the Vumba mountains also for captivating scenery and lush botanical gardens, all within less than an hour’s drive from the city centre.
Mutare is Zimbabwe’s closest city to the sea making it the most strategic location for transport cost sensitive import and export oriented enterprises. It is evidently the best centre for the establishment of Export Processing Zones, vehicle assembly plants, freight forwarding, warehousing and container handling facilities.
The main activities of the area are citrus farming, mining, agriculture and cattle ranching. Two of the largest food producers in Zimbabwe, Cairns Foods and Tanganda Tea, have their headquarters in Mutare.