Gray Nyuraki looked at his flousishing corn crop and said, with the humility of an African peasant, "This land is too good."
Nyuraki, 30, his wife and four children are among the peasant pioneers at this government land resettlement project 80 miles north of Salisbury.
They are undergoing a revolution in their lives, becoming small commercial farmers after years of subsistence agriculture on the Madziwa tribal trust land eight miles away.
"That was poor living," he said, reflecting on conditions at Protect Village No. 6 in Madziwa where his family lived before being resettled here last October. "There was too little land."
What land there was had been worked out by years of subsistence farming, overgrazing and lack of fertilization.
The tribal trust lands were the product of the land tenure system established by the previous white-minority government. Half the 85 million acres of agricultural land in the country were reserved for the 200,000 whites -- generally the best half. The remainder was for the 7 million blacks.
Now the new black government "wants to eliminate the whole practice" of tribal trust lands, "by introducing new agricultural techniques," according to Sydney Sekeramyi, minister of lands, resettlement and rural development.
"Land is one of the most sensitive issues in the country," Sekeramayi said. "It was a key aspect of the war" that guerrillas fought for seven years to end white rule.
Tom Mswaka, the top civil servant in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, put the matter simply: "If we are going to have peace we must solve the land problem."
So far only 1,400 families have been resettled.During the next three years the government hopes to resettle another 18,000 families in a $95 million program, partly financed by Britain.
That, however, is only the tip of the iceberg since it is estimated that as many as 200,000 families may be candidates for resettlement. Some experts question whether there is enough land available since present plans call for each family to get about 200 acres.
So far the government has purchased about 900,000 acres on a willing seller-willing buyer basis. Another 5 million to 7 million acres are not in production, Sekeramayi said. Land expropriation without compensation is probihited under the constitution that ended the war.
Three types of resettlement projects are planned. A family can have an individual plot, be part of a cooperative or participate in a state farm with some allocation for some private plots.
The aim, Sekeramayi said, "is increased production. The concept should not be an end in itself." Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has often said he prefers socialistic land development policies, but so far most of those resettled have individual plots.
Agnes Mashura, 20, her husband, his other two wives and their nine children moved to Umfurudzi in October from the Rushinga tribal trust land about 15 miles to the north. It is the furthest she has ever been from "home," the way the peasants continue to refer to their tribal area.
The coming harvest will be the first time the family has been certain of having enought to eat plus a surplus to sell.
"In the [tribal trust land] we usually had to work in the mines or for white farmers to get money for food and clothing. The farm never produced enough," she said.
The soil here is so much better, she added, that even though the crops here were planted later because their move came after sowing began, the yield still is much higher.
One of the most successful cooperative projects is being developed a few miles away with the assistance of 100 Scandivanian volunteers from an organization called Development Aid From People to People.
The 5,000-acre farm, formerly used as a training camp for commandos of the white government, now houses about 2,500 youths who were at the Matenje Refugee Camp in northwestern Mozambique during the guerrilla war.
The camp was run by Magabe's party, with which the Scandinavian organization had close ties. As a result the project has received considerable attention and help from the government.
The school is an experiment in combining academic and practical work, including farming. The students, many of whom missed years of education because of the war, are given training in such fields as mechanics, electrical repairs, welding, woodwork and dressmaking.
Sekeramayi says it is important for the peasant farmers to get government assistance, aside from use of the land, as they start out to be small commercial farmers.
"If those in the scheme don't get help, they'll fail," he said. Whites will then use their failure "as evidence that these people [Africans] can't work farms," Sekeramayi added.
The minister is concerned that a rash of failures early on could frighten the peasants into sitting pat on the tribal trust lands.
Therefore, before each project starts, the government provides tractors to plough some of the land, agricultural extension services and resettlement officers to help solve problems. Moves are also under way to grant credit.
So far the 5,300 white commercial farmers, who produce the bulk of the country's agriculture, have few complaints about the new government. Agriculture Minister Dennis Norman, the only white in the Cabinet, estimates that about 200 have returned to farming since the end of the war.
Increased producer prices and bountiful rains are about to result in a record corn crop of about 2 million tons, meaning the country will have about 1 million tons available for export to some of its drought-stricken neighbors.
Ironically the bounty has led to a severe problem in finding transportation to move the harvest. That's an improvement, however, over the last two years when the country had to import food as a result of drought and the impact of the war.
For peasant farmer Gray Nyuraki, however, the big change since independence is simple. He has his own farm -- something, he said, "I never thought I'd have."