One need not play national cricket matches, cheer hard for the Warriors or fight wars to express patriotism. Neither is one expected to join a certain political party. Zimbabwe is superior to, and comes first before any political party or civic group.
The Oxford dictionary defines patriotism as devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty. But the word patriotism cannot be restricted and is very subjective in nature. Discussing the issue with several friends, acquaintances, and fellow students alike, it seems that patriotism in Zimbabwe is erroneously equated with support or sympathising with the ruling party – (ZANU PF). One can be forgiven for this view considering that, firstly, the party has been in power for close to four decades and thus it has become difficult to distinguish between its apparatus and that of the state. Secondly, the party claims to stand for ‘patriotic policies’ such as the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act of 2007 among others. However, with all due respect, patriotism goes beyond party politics and cuts across all sectors of Zimbabwean society – sports, arts, and socio-economic activities.
The highest level of patriotism is loving Zimbabwe, its institutions, heritage, traditions, rich history, her environment as well as protecting and upholding its constitution with fundamental human rights enshrined therein. Patriotism is not only protecting Zimbabwe against external threats but also against internal violent, disruptive, unjustified protests and rowdy, as well as retrogressive behaviour. Patriotism should see us refraining from malpractices that erodes the fabric of our society such as early child marriages, corruption, child, and sexual abuse. Patriotism is when we don’t litter our environment, when we pay our taxes honestly, when we voluntarily abide by the laws of the land and when we promote local industries.
The problem is that we (youths) are so much obsessed with foreign labels, foreign heroes, foreign artists, foreign cultures as well as foreign goods. This is really a dangerous trend. We are losing our own identity in the process. Most us have no interest in our own history, culture, and our country’s growth to the extent that some of us identify themselves with George Washington rather than any other hero at our national shrine. We tend to identify ourselves with the Kevin Harts, Trevor Noahs, Desmond Elliots, and Bruce Willis when we know little, and sometimes nothing about our own Mukadota, Gringo, Kapfupi, and Vharazipi. The same can be said about other sectors of socio-economic life. While I respect the constitutional provisions on the rights and individual freedoms by choosing whatever one wants, this trend tends to breed a sense of inferiority in the minds of the Zimbabwean youth thereby undermining the sense of patriotism to the extent of having a hyper propensity for foreign influence and products.
Due to the current state of things surely not every citizen can have the opportunity to serve the country in a formal capacity but one can contribute his or her work and effort. As a farmer, as a vendor, as an engineer, a builder, as a student or in whatever way. The least thing one can do is work and be innovative enough to contribute their part to the country rather than being a mere spectator ready to apportion blame either rightly so, or because the mass media houses misinform us.
There is so much an individual, especially us as the youth, can contribute towards the progress of our nation. Those little things count – registering to vote, placing litter in bins, refusing to pay bribes, reporting criminal activities in our communities, paying taxes and bills, helping the elderly and the vulnerable and so on. We need to improve the tone and vibe of our social and economic life through improved work ethics and environmental behaviour. Let us rally behind our flag, let us love our country with all its faults, let us work to improve it with all our strength, let us defend it with all our resources.
We should hand it over to the coming generations better than what it was when we received it. Let us try to build a nation which our freedom fighters dreamt of. That will be the real tribute to Nehanda, Mkwati, Tongogara, Nikita Mangena, Ziyapapa Moyo, Lookout Masuku, Joseph Luke Culverwell and many others who risked their lives and limbs for Zimbabwe. We belong to this country and this country belongs to us. It is about time as youths that we start to accept that we are not here to destroy the culture or national heritage. In as much as we would love a change towards modern, international standards and practices we should retain or preserve the fundamental tenets of our society, on which our identity as Zimbabweans lies.
Source: Brighton Taruberekera
@tbmunyori is a Political Science student at the University of Zimbabwe. He is also a poet. Above all he is passionate about writing. He can be contacted on 0778992045 (calls only) / firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/tbmunyori