Zimbabwe’s founding fathers and founding villains

It is a terrible thing to be afraid of home. And it is a contradiction not captured in our single narrative of the founding fathers of Zimbabwe on the Heroes Day in August each year. Apparently, we also have to talk of founding villains. They are the stars out there, the strong men of Africa, and Pan-African champions- even some are human rights activists and yet at home everyone is petrified of them.

Like Oliver Mtukudzi’s plea, what shall we do when the father is home drunk? But like their other glorious history in the bush teaches us we have begun to think, fight and overcome our fear of the villains that beget home – whose claims to entitlement continue these colonial contradictions in our home.

The coloniality of power in Zimbabwe has to be unsettled.

Our heroes and our independence are more than a historiography of a party – in fact a hagiography of a few, but about all the people that live, plan and if need be die for the liberation of the homeland – which I take to be a permanent revolution we will never leave again on 18 April 1980. Those that die pay the ultimate price in defense of our liberty and dignity. We should never allow their death to be desecrated by a few bullies.

I now understand the kind of feeling that James Baldwin had when he wrote his book, The Fire Next Time, as a message to white America during the civil rights era. Just as I understand the song bird Kudzai Sevenzo rehashing the lyrics “Don’t push me, coz I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head.” It’s one feeling that comes from being taken for a ride, of being governed by a people that are not serious about the welfare of humanity and who over trust the usefulness of guns.

However, they should not comfort themselves with the sanctions crap any longer, their political bull just gave the nation political diarrhoea. We the people do matter and we are moving to make this government our government – not just for food, a very important need, but for the basic tenet that we can as well know that we are equally Zimbabweans.

I am impressed in us the people they thought were rabble rousers in 2016, and even beyond 1999. We are authoring The Fire This Time. Yet what is it about this time? What is it that the people are saying? What is the message to the President et al? That we the people are bringing down injustice. That we are picking up the clarion call of freedom they dropped somewhere in the corridors of power. We are no longer subjects but citizens.

If we surrender the country to other people even if they are black we would have betrayed ourselves.

I am reminded not just of Mugabe’s impatience with the tactics of 1962 in the zeal of youth, but I am also reminded of Charles Mzingeli, Benjamin Burombo, Reuben Jamela, the City Youth League of 1955, Joshua Nkomo, Ruth Chinamano and many others – all brave daughters and sons of Zimbabwe who took a bold and courageous stand for justice against the Rhodesian settlers.

I hear of that lady Mai Musodzi who was forever moved to break both the confines of colonization and patriarchy after seeing the execution of Mbuya Nehanda after telling the white colonizer that, as Aimé Césaire famously puts it: there is no-one with a monopoly over beauty and there is a place for all at the rendezvous of victory. At this rendezvous no one, regardless of rank or status, is more African and more Zimbabwean than another. But you see, then came the guerrillas, Robert Mugabe et al, people who took up the freedom mantle, at least for some time, that in 1979 Ian Smith tried all the politricks in the book to remove them, but they were far gone in the call of freedom – believing that another better Zimbabwe was possible – we hear you even walked across nations and rivers on foot into exile.

The year 2016 was a firm reminder, other tyrants have belatedly heed, that people unlike courts never hand down sentences, but throw thunderbolts that do not condemn kings but drop them back into the void. The banality of holding the country hostage to the past is a lie that has been exposed.

What drove you Emmerson Mnangagwa to fight the colonizer? What drove you Phelekezela Mphoko to fight against the failure to access the necessities, safety and luxuries of Rhodesia? This is the same source that drives us – from Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian slaves, right through Chaminuka and Mbuya Nehanda to the spirited Zimbabwean whom you plan to restrict their social media through law, because she and he has said, and is saying, enough is enough to injustice.

Shall I tell you of families going hungry tonight? Shall I tell you of the unemployed that you want to psychology into believing that they are employed? Shall I tell you of a parent’s pain at failing to provide for their child? Shall I tell you of passing by Munhumutapa President’s Offices at six in the evening and seeing all the office lights off as if we are the second most developed country in Africa? Shall I tell you of buses killing people on single lane roads and your thirty-seven years belated snail pace to nowhere response? I will not tell you of the bond with our cash that currency has broken. How dare you sleep when the nation’s gates are burning.

Obviously, you do not really know that there are those that walk to town on foot without transport money or understand those that you chase in pavements for the “crime” of vending and needless to say – the barbarity of the police spikes in your fights with kombis.

It is after seeing your relatives perish in hospitals that don’t have gloves and drugs, the pain of knowing our loved one who could still be with us, it is that point when after being dragged down the cells in Harare Police Station and the dehumanizing cages of remand prison all for the cause of freedom that we remind you that we revolt for the simple reason that we can no longer breathe.

If I will also remind you of Chiadzwa – and in your parlance, the breast of Nehanda that oozed diamonds and the thefts that followed I will call you all villains. The Chiadzwa thefts are only second to imperialism – but why should we waste time grading evil. We remain fed up and unafraid.

Source: Prolific Mataruse
Prolific is a PhD student at Rhodes University