Zimbabwe is no island

Zimbabwe is no island
Published: 09 January 2015 (1006 Views)

Zimbabwe is no island. Quite an obvious statement, but what does it really mean.

Let me explain. I'm a descendant of the Bantu people that have inhabited Southern Africa for just shy of a millennia. I learn from folklore that this came about through migration of groups of hunter gatherer nomads from the central interior of Africa, who made their way down south and found for themselves suitable climatic conditions to sustain their livelihood and live out their lives in relative peace and prosperity.

Let me also stop momentarily and disabuse you of the widely held notion that our people were marauding warrior tribes scattered across the land, chucking spears at each other to obtain and consolidate power … and neither were they 'kumbaya my lord' singing angels enjoying peaceful brotherhood among men and gods in a golden age. History is seldom that simple, what it is, is layered, complex, full of colour, and any attempt to paint it black and white is sure to fail.

Civilisations were built which now lie in ruins that attest to an age when powerful kingdoms reined. I open with this diatribe only to say this; our history as a people is long, rich, illustrious, glorious, and also mired in struggles that were seemingly impossible to overcome, yet we are here today, testament to the resilience of our forbearers.

Every time I turn on the television these days it seems like open season to inflict harm on the Black figure. From Ferguson to Harare to Cape-town, Black lives still don't matter… at least not as much as white lives. The more I consider the times we live in and recount the lives lived by our ancestors I realise that we are faced with similar challenges that they faced and overcame.

Therein I look for inspiration, a blue-print, the spirit of Nehanda and Kaguvi, the dreams of MLK, Madiba and Joshua Nkomo, and dare I say the resilience of RG Mugabe against white supremacy and imperialists. Regarding the later, as a great man once said "… you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain …" the irony is not lost to me … even as we struggle against our liberators who have taken on the robes of the oppressor.

How are we to respond as a generation that has benefited from the experience of those before us, carrying as it were the touch or baton? Shall we use these to set fire to a system that wasn't built with us in mind in the first place and as weapons to force change, in the words of Malcolm X "by any means necessary", upon those who are clearly not interested in embracing it (change) or us as equals? Or is the question; are we equal, and by what measure, by whose measure are we equal? The pacifist in me says No and cannot reconcile the use of violence to bring about social cohesion and sustainable peace as an option. Yet, I think of the Black Power movement that swept the continent and to some extent the Americas not so long ago. How young men and women, weary of asking/ begging for peace, equal treatment and a place under the sun were ultimately driven to arms as means to attain freedom and equality. The militant in me says Yes and reckons violence is a language that power understands, the relevant question is what type of violence one inflicts and to what end. When I marry these warring passions in me, I'm left with a sober activism that seeks peaceful ends via the tools/ weapons at my disposal, this is the lesson history teaches me.

I have an obligation to honour the sacrifices of our ancestors dead and alive, and to future generations who will have to inherit our deeds or misdeeds. That! Is the challenge that we are faced with today. How as Zimbabweans and Africans do we live lives that are worthy of our past and future.

As for me, I choose to be part of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prof. Welshman Ncube, the only viable alternative we have to realise the dreams of a generation and carry on the glorious legacy of a people.

Sons of Joshua

- Sons of Joshua

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