I do not know whether I can ever reiterate this point enough – history is a total accumulation of past events, which can never, and should never, be cherry-picked, or narrated selectively – such that, as a lover of history myself, I find it particularly deceptive and disingenuous whenever anyone attempts to distort (at worst), or deliberately doctors (at best) our past, especially for apparently sinister ulterior motives.
If someone is asked to tell the history of Tendai Ruben Mbofana, for instance, then that means, the total accumulation of my life – nothing should be deliberately left out, or distorted, in order to suit a particular agenda and motive.
If ever the narrative is to pass the test of true history, then everything that I have ever done, or that has happened to me, has to be told, fairly and openly – the good, the bad, and the ugly – otherwise, if any one of these is omitted, or manipulated (either, as a way to exaggerate, trivialize, or sanitize it) then, that could never be genuinely classified as history – since another critical component of history is that is should be a truthful critical account of such past events.
This is what makes the recent visit to Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, by president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – to tour the Heritage Corridor, and to launch the Bulawayo Urban Corridor, Ecotourism and Arts Festival – appear problematic in my mind.
I found it thoroughly interesting and intriguing that the organizers of this seemingly noble and magnificent initiative – which, truly, should be commended and emulated throughout the country, as our heritage, as a people, needs to be placed on the front banner, learned, and understood – was taken to Inxwala Grounds (where King Lobengula conducted important ceremonies), and then went to the nearby so-called, Hanging Tree, where nine Ndebele warriors were hanged by colonialists in 1896, thereby crushing the Second Imfazo, or Umvukela, to resist colonial occupation.
After these tours, Mnangagwa told a gathering, “Lest we forget, the Hanging Tree stands as a reminder to present and future generations of the brutality and savagery of the white settler regime towards our forefathers.
“This national monument must inspire all of us, and the youth, in particular, to constantly defend our independence, territorial integrity, and dignity as a nation.
“The reincarnation of colonialism and imperialism in whatever form must never be allowed a foothold in our country.”
To that, I say a big BRAVO! I agree with those sentiments more than a hundred percent! Well spoken Cde. President!
Indeed, all the people of Zimbabwe need to be inspired by such national monuments, be reminded of the wickedness and savagery we endured under a brutal leadership, and never to allow that to happen again.
Nonetheless, are we to say that, that is all there is to our painful and horrendous past?
Are these all the events that characterize the unspeakable repression, and immeasurable agony that the people of Zimbabwe have been subjected to by their oppressive leaders, in the course of their history?
Of course not.
Since this tour was mainly focused on our country’s “recent” history – that is to say, from colonialism to post-independence – whereby, even events of the liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s were also highlighted, as numerous nationalists were incarcerated in Bulawayo prisons, with others even being hanged at the same Hanging Tree – would it not have made more sense to take the tour further, and show the president where his own ZANU PF regime perpetrated one of the most evil, sadistic, and barbaric acts known to humankind… GUKURAHUNDI GENOCIDE!
Did the organizers not consider it part of our nation’s heritage to also include in their itinerary, the multitude of places surrounding Bulawayo, where over 20,000 non-combative and innocent men, women, and children were ruthlessly butchered, in cold blood, by the post-independence black government, merely because they spoke IsiNdebele?
Surely, if the callous hanging of nine Ndebele armed combative warriors by the “brutal and savage white settler regime” was worthy of a tour by the country’s president – as it should have – then, a tour of the various sites where over 20,000 Ndebele-speaking unarmed non-combative villagers were massacred by the brutal and savage black post-independence regime, would automatically fit in the busy roster.
Are our people, most particularly our youth, also not supposed to be “inspired” by such genocide-commemorating monuments, so as to defend our democracy, rights, and dignity as a nation?
Are we not supposed to also be galvanized, as a nation, to ensure that the reincarnation of colonialism, imperialism, genocide, oppression, and injustices, in whatever form, must never ever be allowed a foothold in our country?
History can only make sense when it is told in its truth and entirety – since, any attempts to doctor or manipulate it, or even to cherry-pick it, will never achieve the desired objectives.
Le us tell our own Zimbabwean story – but, let it be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing else but the truth! Only that way can we learn never to repeat it. So help us God!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org