Zimbabweans are the unhappiest people on earth. Zimbabwe is the poorest country in the world. Zimbabwe is a failed state. Zimbabwe………This is what survey after survey has been hammering into our minds over the past seven or so years. There appears to be competition amongst the so-called think-tanks to see which one can come up with the worst scenario about Zimbabwe.
The stories have been quite disturbing, to say the least. But at the same time, being a Zimbabwean, very proud of my country, which I believe is still the best in the world despite the turmoil from 1997 to 2008; I have been forced to ask myself, so what?
If Zimbabwe is such a basket case, with such an unhappy population, and is a failed state beyond salvation, why is everyone so concerned? Surely they are not feeling pity for us. Why not just let the country and its people rot? After all it will be good riddance to bad rubbish.
But the more I think about it, the more I get a feeling that there must be something in that country that these people are seeing that ordinary Zimbabweans, including myself, are not seeing? What is it? This question has driven me to keep on probing.
The story of Zimbabwe reminds me of something that a friend has repeatedly told me over the years.
Pane munhu akanga akazvikiyira mutoilet. Aingozhamba achiti maiwe, maiwe, mutoireti muno munonhuwa. Hamugariki. Ndoda kubuda kani. Asi akanga akazvikiira nechomukati. Vari panze vakauya ndokudaidziria vachiti vhura chihuri tikuzarurire ubude. Iye ndokuramba achingozhamba achingoti munonhuwa muno. Hamugariki. Zvikanzi vhura, tikubudise. Nani waani. Akaramba achingozhamba achiti munonhuwa asi achiramba kuzarura chihuri kuti abude.
The long and shot of the story is that the case of Zimbabwe is like that of someone who had locked himself up in a toilet from inside and was crying out loud that the toilet was filthy, it was smelling badly, he wanted to get out. When those outside asked him to unlatch the door so that they could open it for him, he refused to open but continued to whine that the toilet was filthy, he couldn’t stand the smell, it was uninhabitable but he would not open the door to get out.
This reminded me that throughout the years of turmoil those who were making the most noise about how the economy was collapsing, how the rule of law had broken down, how the country had become uninhabitable, never left the country yet nothing really stopped them. In fact, they even had two passports and family abroad, but they would not budge. They were making more money in the dying, filthy, uninhabitable Zimbabwe than they could make elsewhere, and were quietly hoping that the chaos would not end.
It also reminded me that throughout the turmoil, when people were sleeping at the passport office or bribing their way to get a place in the queue I never saw any white person in that queue. I only saw them at the border queuing to go to Botswana or South Africa to go and buy fuel or groceries and come back.
People were harassed, beaten up, battered but they vowed they would never leave the country? But ordinary Zimbabweans were doing anything to get out of the country- changing identity to become Malawians or South Africans so that they could get into Britain without visas, bribing passport officials to give them up to four passports so that they could extend their stay in the neighbouring countries, selling their cars or houses to raise money for the air ticket, claiming that they were opposition party members and had been hounded out of the country, or that they had murdered so many people on the instructions of ZANU-PF that they wanted to run away from it all.
Once out some had horrific experiences but they vowed they would not return to Zimbabwe. The good friends that had promised them heaven if they left Zimbabwe deserted them. To make matters worse some learnt that their wives or husbands or boyfriends back home were now sleeping with their neighbours. Or on arrival they discovered that their wives, girlfriends or boyfriends who had urged them to join them in the promised land now had local partners. In one bizarre case, a father took over his son’s wife and had a child with her putting his son and his son’s children into a dilemma over what to call the child.
What irritated me most when I met some of the people outside Zimbabwe was how political most of them had become, claiming to be victims of either the militias, war veterans or Mugabe’s soldiers. Indeed, there were people that had been harassed, beaten up and tortured by some party youths, but I could tell that most of the people were economic refugees who had left the country in search of greener pastures. Some had made it but others had not but they were too scared to go back because they had nothing to show for their stay abroad.
I remember a former workmate whose son had gone to South Africa. He had been sending his father cash and clothes every month and came home every Christmas with loads of gifts. He claimed to be working in Johannesburg. It was only after the deadly disease Aids caught up with him that he told a close friend of his father that he was dying and wanted to confess that he had nothing in South Africa. He was actually a robber and was one of the most wanted men in South Africa. He died shortly thereafter but his father’s friend vowed that he would never tell his friend what his son had been doing in South Africa because this would devastate him.
I have never been harassed in Zimbabwe, except by thugs. I know I was being watched and was summoned to the Chinyavada offices once or twice. I have lashed out about how corrupt our leaders have become, how they have destroyed the country, but I never do that with non-Zimbabweans or while outside the country unless I am talking to people that I know can get to the politicians, or I am writing for the The Insider. I could therefore never understand why someone would go about telling everyone what a shit country Zimbabwe was- as if they were going to change anything- until someone sent me a video clip entitled: Inside the Secrets of the white man.
“Hi! My name is Stan and I have been watching the black power community for the last 100 years. I just notice that you guys have been having some problems figuring out what to do about me. You see. I am a cracker, yeah, the white man, the guy that has been running the whole world for the last 2 000 years,” the video clip says.
“Well, the reason that I stopped by to speak with you today is to help. I have been watching you guys fight over gaining real black power and thought I would give you a few pointers. Since we white guys have been running things since we invaded Africa I figured I would lay out the blue print to help you achieve your objectives.
“Might as well use the plan that works! Right! Besides it beats the backward, no progress, mistake repeating methods you people have been trying for the last 400 years. So I knew all of you needed some help especially after Barrack Obama got into office. He is a great guy but a black man in a white man’s house ain’t really saying much considering all the hell you people have been through.
“Don’t get me wrong. In many ways I know you were happy to get at least one black into office. This is good when you want to run politics but ruling the world is what we white folks specialise in. Have you ever heard of the illuminati? Well, that is the kind of coordination you are going to need to begin taking over the world.
“OK. Let’s get started. Today I am going to give you three things that we did to take over the world. You can use these two and begin to gain real black power. Number One. The first step to taking over the world is unity. I know you have heard of this before but Black people seem to really struggle with this one. You just don’t seem to get it. You would rather fight against each other instead of your enemies. This is bad business and you will never get true freedom doing things this way.
“Instead do what we did to gain power. We divided and conquered entire countries based on their differences while holding true to our similarities. I am white there is no changing that. My God born tendency is to preserve my own. Nothing is racist about that. It is just common sense.
“You people are the stupid ones, going around trying to love everybody but yourselves. We kicked your asses here in America for over 400 years. And you still go around talking about Jesus loves everyone. While you have been doing all the praying and jumping around we have been buying up the world and making laws that you have to abide by. No offence. But everyone else has unity but you. I mean look at the business in your neighbourhood. The people that control it don’t even look like you. In fact everyone who comes to this country sets up a business in the black community, the Koreans, the Indians, the Chinese, the list goes on and on. Aren’t you tired of letting these other people supply all your food, nails…..”
First of all, let me confess. I know that more battles have been fought over religion than anything else. I am a Christian myself. And I love Jesus. He is my saviour. But I do not base my faith on scriptures like blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom in heaven. I believe more in: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Now back to the video clip. It might be talking about the Niggas in the United States. I know they don’t like that word any more, but they still remain that, just like the kaffirs in South Africa are no longer called that. But I would rather be called a kaffir than a previously disadvantaged person by the very person who disadvantaged me, deliberately, purposefully and intentionally but now wants to make it look like I was disadvantaged by someone else other than that person. Nothing will change the fact that I am black and that I was discriminated against.
I am proud to be black. I am proud of the fight that I waged to be heard. I know I still have a long way to go before I am fully accepted as an equal. Don’t tell me the bullshit that we are. No. That is years away. And I don’t buy it anyway because I know it is just a farce. In fact, I get the uncanny feeling that my colleagues are so ashamed of what they did to us that when they are with us, they spent most of the time trying to wipe out their racist history. And they seem to be succeeding with the younger generation which is battling to fit in. After all there is nothing better than to indoctrinate someone without a history especially a self-denigrating someone without any pride in him or herself.
Michael Moore who inspired me to write this aptly put it: After a long procession of court losses- fighting against equality with blacks- demonstrations and riots, “we got the message. If we didn’t wise up, we were going to have to start sharing some of the pie. We learned an important lesson: if you’re going to be a successful racist, better find a way to do it with a smile on your face!”
That’s what most are doing. When you complain about some injustices, like Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform programme and that black Zimbabweans deserved their fair share of the land and had to get it from those who had taken it away from them in the first place, they accuse you of being a racist. A racist. My a…..
A friend of mine, after reading a letter in The Insider accusing me of being a racist said you must tell the bugger: “No black ever invented racism.” I didn’t. But this gave me a lot of comfort.
But just like the video clip says, black Zimbabweans are busy fighting against each other. Mugabe is right. He is a hero. He brought about the liberation of this country. He should rule for life. Tsvangirai is a sell-out. He is a coward. He will hand over the country back to the British. What a load of crap!
No one has ever said Mugabe did not bring about freedom of this country. We can’t take that away from him. But that does not give him the right to run the country forever? He was not the only one that fought the struggle.
We have a saying that a person is a person because of the people. Umuntu ngumuntu ngavantu or Ushe madzoro. Yes, Tsvangirai may have received funding from the West but I do not think he would be that foolish to hand over land to the whites. That might be what those who are funding him have in mind but Tsvangirai knows that that would be suicidal. No matter what people, especially those from ZANU-PF, think of him Tsvangirai is no fool. I also know that to those backing him Tsvangirai is just a tool to get rid of Mugabe but he knows that. That is why he has argued throughout that Mugabe was part of the problem and therefore has to be part of the solution. This has not gone down well with his so-called sponsors.
But what is really dividing us? If we go by what Mugabe once said that tiri vanhu vamwe, tinodya matumbu embudzi pamwe chete, why can’t we solve our problems internally without labelling each other this or that? After all there is no family that has no squabbles. More importantly, it does not mean that whenever you have squabbles in the family, you desert the family and burn up the home.
This is what seems to be happening in Zimbabwe. In fact ,you get the impression that someone is stocking up the fires because while we are busy squabbling about who is going to succeed Mugabe in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or that we can never salute Tsvangirai because he did not go to war, or the economy will never turn around as long as Mugabe is part of the government, the whites have been quietly coming back and buying land, buying businesses, buying mining claims- building up real power while we are fighting over the cramps.
This reminds me of the video clip that we are squabbling over politics while someone is quietly holding on to real power. And as the clip says: “I am white there is no changing that. My God born tendency is to preserve my own. Nothing is racist about that. It is just common sense.”
A friend of mine who has lived in Europe for more than two decades tells me that we can talk about indigenisation all we want but we will never wrestle control of the economy from former Rhodesians. He says he has been told this by European investors who say they wanted to come and invest in Zimbabwe but were told that they could only come in if they had the blessing of former Rhodesians. These European businessmen say the Zimbabwe economy is still tightly under Rhodesian control.
I was not totally surprised by this because Rhodesians had heavily invested in Zimbabwe and like their leader Ian Smith they were totally convinced that there would be no black rule in a thousand years. I seem to get that itchy feeling that the same seems to be happening in South Africa. But what the hell, South Africans can look after themselves. My concern is Zimbabwe.
The argument makes a lot of sense when I look at the firms that are supposed to have been taken over by my fellow countrymen. Please don’t mistake me. I have great respect for my country men and I am a strong advocate for indigenisation as long as people make it on their own and are not handed over something by the government or any other benefactor for that matter, except family because this is their inheritance.
Whites had really taken root in Zimbabwe and they were not likely to give up anything especially their wealth without a fight. That is why they fought a bitter 14-year struggle before being forced by South Africa to give in. Come to think of it, there are too many black Zimbabweans who rose from nowhere to take over white family businesses, real family jewels, not through jambanja, but by allegedly buying them out. I repeat, I have no qualms with my fellow countrymen, but I hate those of my people that are being used as fronts.
Of course there are those who argue that if they are making money, what the hake? I think It still matters. We want people of integrity. People who stand for something. People with principles not people who believe that corruption promotes development because someone steals from government and uses that money to develop a genuine business empire. Yes. That is what Transparency International Zimbabwe found out in a survey in Chitungwiza.
Sorry to digress, but it is because I still haven’t found an answer as to why everyone is so concerned about Zimbabwe. I am still looking but all I know is that it is a land of milk and honey. But my worry is that some of us will know and see the wealth but never get to enjoy it. What a pity that would be.