I am sure we have all heard those nearly hysterical screams of unbridled joy – echoing throughout our neighbourhoods – whenever electricity supply is restored, usually after a long spell of load shedding, or a technical fault, as residents freely express transports of excitement and jubilation, after enduring hours of stress and exertion of cooking on the fire, businesses crippled as essential equipment would largely be electricity-driven (and, options, such as generators, being economically unviable), lack of television, and other frustrating inconveniences.
As much as these scenes and noises of extreme exhilaration may, on the surface, appear comical – but, if truth be told, this is a very disturbing symptom of a much deeper and tragic underlying ‘cancer’ of Zimbabweans’ propensity to always accept mediocrity, and a second-class livelihood, as we appear all too ready to receive the worst in life, and any crumbs, which the powerful ruling elite throw down at us, from their table of ill-gotten and looted opulence.
Surely, why on earth would anyone find it prudent, and worthy of unrestrained celebrations, when our national resources have been shamelessly plundered by those entrusted with running our country – through heartless corruption, that bleeds this richly-blessed land into a sad and marasmic valley of death – when, instead, we should be holding them accountable, as to why, for instance, we reached this sorry state, whereby, we go for hours without electricity…thereby, our businesses screech to a halt (since, most alternative sources of power prove unsustainable), or vast tracts of our precious forests being reduced to deserts (as people seek wood for fire), and generally, our lives turned into a miserable lot?
I have lost count of the number of times that I have felt an excruciating stab in my heart, as I watched – tears welling in my eyes – the elderly, widowed, pensioners, veterans of our liberation struggle, as well as men, women, children from every length and breadth of this country, jumping, ululating, and singing after receiving handouts from various charitable organizations, and opportunistic politicians, hoping to secure votes.
Knowing how Zimbabweans are not a lazy people but spare no effort in shedding tears, sweat and blood in their industrious quest to fend for their families – there can never be anything on this planet more traumatizing and troubling than them being reduced to paupers and beggars, who – after sacrificing their all – still are unable to make ends meet, and have to queue in the sweltering heat, drenching rain, or even chilling cold, merely to receive food, and basic commodities’ aid.
And, at the end of it all, we still oddly jump for joy, as if this was all normal – if not a blessing!
Yet, is this not reason enough for all of us to be enraged?
Whilst, our loved ones face the most treacherous and agonizing deaths in our homes – as a result of the unaffordability and unavailability of most essential medications, and other much needed potentially life-saving procedures – do we never feel grossly short-changed by the sadistic and cold-hearted ruling elite (and their hangers-on), who readily, even in the midst of a global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fly (in chartered jets) to receive expensive and world-class medical treatment overseas?
However, I am sure, if the same politicians were to donate a few boxes of paracetamol, and some bottles of sanitizers, for good measure, to our local clinics, we would not hesitate rolling on the ground, in joyous celebrations of these ‘saviors’!
Do we not see anything drastically wrong, when we have to spend hours after hours, each and every day, in a unending search for water – usually, from overly-crowded and sparse public boreholes, or privately-owned water sources, where we are charged exorbitantly – yet, we reside in homes adequately installed with taps, from where, once upon a time, potable water would flow flawlessly?
In fact, instead of confronting those who are the primary cause of our misery and pain, we would rather fight amongst ourselves at these boreholes – as we scuffle to get this precious water ahead of others.
Is there anything to be proud of, when we can not make a living from whatever we are truly passionate about, but ‘forced’ into some other career – which, we probably hate, and always stresses us out – merely, because that is the only thing available for some semblance of a liveable existence?
How many of us have reluctantly been pushed into farming, for instance – because, that was the only relatively ‘profitable’ (whatever that means by Zimbabwean standards) venture – when, in fact, we would rather be writers, or teachers, or nurses, or sportspeople, etc?
Honestly, does all this not paint a very worrisome picture of who we are as Zimbabweans?
No, it does not show us as a patient. No, it does not show us as peaceful. And, no, it does not show us as a grateful people.
On the contrary, this trait within us portrays a most troubling image of a people who have chosen to be captives of their own fear, and self-hate.
Fear – as we appear willing to be oppressed and subjugated, for fear of brutalization by a regime notorious for its insatiable thirst for blood and atrocities.
Self-hate – as we appear to believe that we are not worthy of a decent, dignified, and respectable life, which God Almighty freely gave us – but, would rather celebrate, and gratefully embrace any crumbs that our leaders throw at us, from their table of feasting.
Standing up for one’s rights does not necessarily call for physical and violent confrontation – since, that would clearly be the highest level of insanity and senselessness, in the face of a regime that knows no other language than brute force, and the spilling of blood – but, at least, bravely resisting, and speaking out, through the various constitutional powers we have at our disposal.
In Shona they say, “zvinonaka zvinodhura” – in other words, a good life does not come on a silver platter – and, if we sincerely desire the decent, dignified, and respectable life, that we deserve, then it is time that we stopped celebrating and accepting the mediocre, but, rather fearlessly and unflinchingly standing up, and speaking out, for what is truly ours.
Honestly, why would anyone ululate, sing, and dance for spending long hours in queues for food handouts, or spending the whole day fetching water at a borehole kilometres away, or receiving electricity an only few hours a day, or being given a couple of boxes of medications – in a nation endowed with some of the world’s greatest riches, which only a powerful few lavishly benefit from, whilst the rest wallow in abject poverty?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.