If we don’t ululate, we will surely die!

Source: If we don’t ululate, we will surely die!

Yesterday, I penned a piece entitled ‘Zimbabwe – the Stockholm syndrome capital of the world’, in which I lamented how the oppressed blindly hero-worshipped their own oppressors.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


I gave examples of usually rural folk who had the disturbing tendency of singing, dancing, and ululating for a mere borehole, or agricultural inputs, food aid, and other handouts from the government.

In all this, they appeared never concerned about interrogating the real reasons they were in such a sorrowful predicament of despair, desperation, and destitution in the first place.

Instead of holding those in power to account for ruining their lives and shattering the hopes that came with independence – they opted to praise and glorify the same ruling elite that had driven them into indescribable poverty and suffering.

I loudly wondered why they never challenged the ruling elite for looting our national resources (for their own self-enrichment), which are meant to uplift the standards of living of all Zimbabweans.

Had our vast natural resources been managed faithfully and for the good of the nation, we would not have half the population living in extreme poverty, with 3.5 million people facing starvation.

No one would need to stand for hours in the sweltering sun or freezing cold or drenching rain to celebrate a borehole, one kilometer stretch of road, or a single-lane bridge.

No Zimbabweans should be surviving on handouts in a country endowed with diamonds, gold, platinum, lithium chrome, nickel, copper, silver, and now natural gas.

At the end, I attributed this praising and glorifying of the same people authoring our pain and misery to the well-known psychological phenomenon of the Stockholm syndrome.

This is a psychological connection that hostages sometimes develop with their captors and begin sympathizing or even endearing themselves with them.

This usually happens when people who are placed under high duress (even fearing for their lives) by their captors become totally dependent on them for survival.

They then translate even a most basic act such as giving them (hostages) food or allowing them to use the toilet or even not killing them as proof of kindness and love.

However, it would appear my deductions were not 100 percent on point after all.

After the article was published yesterday, I received quite insightful information from readers in rural areas.

Their message was pointed and unambiguous: If we do not ululate, we will face untold persecution at the hands of the ruling ZANU PF.

In other words, all the singing, dancing, and ululating is done, not on account of the Stockholm syndrome per se, but out of crippling fear.

Most of those men, women, and children gathering in their hundreds or thousands celebrating their own tormentors and oppressors as heroes would actually be terrified of being killed if they did not do so.

For them, it is literally a matter of life and death.

Therefore, rural folk are not as naïve and gullible as my assumptions indicated.

They do what they do purely as a means to self-preservation and not as support for the ruling establishment.

Even those in power know this unbridled truth.

Actually, there is overwhelming evidence on the ground to support these facts.

That is why the ruling party invests so much in sharpening and oiling its ruthless intimidation machinery in rural areas.

During last year’s elections, ZANU PF did not leave anything to chance – unleashing traditional leaders and the shadowy FAZ (Forever Associates Zimbabwe) to unleash a reign of terror in rural communities.

In other previous elections, even the military, ruling party youth, and sections of veterans of the liberation struggle went on a murderous rampage across rural Zimbabwe.

Threats of returning to war if ZANU PF lost the elections were prevalent – as the ruling elite understood the trauma and terrible memories those in these regions still had from the 1970s liberation struggle.

In 2008, when ZANU PF’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe was defeated in the first round of presidential elections to opposition MDC’s Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, hundreds of rural folk had their hands cut off for ostensibly ‘voting wrongly’.

This was because Mugabe and his ZANU PF had even lost in rural areas, which the ruling elite want to portray as ZANU PF strongholds.

Voters have repeatedly been told that the government had ways of knowing who had voted tor whom, and as such, horrible consequences awaited all those who made the ‘mistake of voting for the opposition’.

In the 2023 elections, FAZ set up tables just outside polling stations, writing down voters’ names and asking them for whom they had voted.

Not only that, but traditional leaders fog-marched villagers to polling stations where they were either forced to vote for ZANU PF or were instructed to ‘be assisted’ in casting their vote.

These are not mere baseless allegations, but facts that were recorded by various election observer missions who were on the ground during the elections, including SADC.

Why has the ruling elite seen it fit to go to such extremes in ensuing rural folk ‘supported’ and voted to ZANU PF?

Even those handouts are used as a tool of intimidation since all those perceived to support the opposition are denied vital aid.

As we speak, with millions facing acute hunger, I have already been receiving reports of partisan food distribution in some rural communities.

In fact, millions of Zimbabweans are in danger of starvation simply because they are suspected opposition supporters.

Is it not clear that those in power know fully well that they have lost most genuine support in rural areas?

If those thousands we witness singing, dancing, and ululating for a borehole or handouts truly perceived the ruling elite as their saviors and heroes, then there would totally be no reason for ZANU PF to panic.

They would be confident that these were loyal supporters whose votes were guaranteed.

However, that is undoubtedly not the case.

ZANU PF fears losing the rural electorate.

They are aware that those folk understand who are the real authors of their poverty and suffering.

The mass gatherings and all the singing, dancing, and ululating even at the most mediocre is only a survival strategy.

Nevertheless, deep down, our rural compatriots are fed up with ZANU PF and want those who have brought and maintained their unimaginable poverty and suffering to go.

It goes without saying that what our rural compatriots now desperately need is the full support and protection of those of us in urban areas.

We need to give them a voice – speaking out for them against the pain and torment they have endured at the hands of the ruling establishment.

For them to subject themselves to this degrading and dehumanizing treatment by those in power is due to the fact that they feel abandoned and alone.

They have no one to stand for them.

There is no one to protect them.

Only when they feel protected and safe will they finally be able to refuse to submit to singing, dancing, and ululating for nonsense.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/ 


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 1 month ago

    I went recently to visit relatives in the rural area.We were happy to see each other and more. Yes these people suffered during the war and after . They feel abandoned by the junta today and conclude their suffering has been created by the regime and elders towing the regimes ideas. ED and co have visited the area and threatened them or else “face the music”. Something the maHerald never reports.Well be assured with relatives and the rural folk being abused by the regime this news will be reported to the world. If ED and co think they can get away with it think again !!!!