After another bout of involuntary strenuous morning exercises – engaging in some heavy lifting of several twenty litre (20lt) plastic containers [weighing about twenty-five to thirty kilograms (25-30kg) each] – as I fetched water from a generous neighbor (who owns a borehole), I could not help being gripped by a gnawing sense of bewilderment and dismay.
I am always amazed by the eerily strange passiveness exhibited by the people of my neighbourhood of Redcliff – which, tragically is not an isolated case, but symbolic of the broader attitude of Zimbabweans in general.
Everyone appeared to be going about their daily businesses and chores, without a care in the world – as if everything was normal.
What could be normal about not having any running water coming out of our taps for nearly two months now – especially for those who have been faithfully meeting their water payment obligations?
Are we fools and idiots for being responsible members of the community?
Maybe we are!
Nonetheless, this most disturbing sense of apathy and docility, on issues concerning our own oppression and suffering, far transcends the limits of the small town of Redcliff – but, is a much more widespread challenge facing most of my fellow countrymen and women.
We appear to have resigned ourselves to a cruel fate – seemingly admitting defeat to the imposed repression and impoverishment we have been subjected to by the ruling class in Zimbabwe (both at local and central government levels).
Yet, I still don’t get it!
Why, do we, as Zimbabweans, appear to have an inherently entrenched fear of standing up for ourselves – apparently, more than content with simply adapting to whatever is thrown at us.
I remember thinking to myself this morning – as I carried all those heavy water-filled containers – whether that was who we were as Zimbabweans.
I actually said to myself – should I just drill a borehole, sit back, and consider the problem solved?
The answer to that was swift.
Of course, as this water crisis does not appear to be going away anytime soon – seeing how most residents appear all laid-back about the whole matter, seemingly comfortable with begging neighbors for the precious liquid – having my own source would be a fabulous idea.
However, the problem of global warming can never be resolved by simply installing air conditioning and cooling systems in every home!
Similarly, as much as it is all truly well and good for Zimbabweans to adapt to prevailing situations, and finding simplistic stop-gap measures – the challenges facing our country need a more holistic and long-term solution.
Half-baked quick fixes only lead to equally short-term and temporary solutions – which, sooner or later, will be overtaken by far worse problems.
For instance, the unemployment crisis in this country can never be washed away by citizens simply starting their own small businesses – without tackling, head-on, the problem of gross economic mismanagement at the hands of an incompetent and corruption ruling elite.
Even if one started his or her own small business operation – how far will that take him or her, when the same problem that forced established companies to shut down, or downsize (creating the unemployment crisis, in the first place), still persists, and remains unresolved?
This is where Zimbabweans are found wanting – since these solutions need a people that can boldly and unshakably stand up for themselves.
But, then again – do we have it in us, or do we wait for fate to change its fortunes, whilst we just back and watch, as if mere spectators to our own lives?
In the midst of my morning water-lifting exercise – which my wife always jokingly says I desperately need, since I have been putting on a few kilos – I wondered whether our apathetic and docile nature was why it took us a good eighty years to finally stand up against colonial rule?
That was a very worrying thought – considering that we are only forty-one (41) years into this new form of Black-on-Black subjugation and segregation – if history is to repeat itself (as it always does) chances are, the generation that will finally say, “enough is enough”, is still four decades away!
I honestly do not understand why we are so averse to standing up for ourselves as Zimbabweans.
Let us remember that, “standing up for ourselves” need not be a violent endeavor – although, we know that we are faced with a ruling establishment that is all to glad to bully unarmed and peaceful aggrieved citizen with brute force and barbarity.
Yet, we have so many constitutionally-enshrined options available to us – most of which, do not even require us to face-off with our brutal regime.
We can still speak out.
We can still petition.
We can even take responsible authorities to court – particularly, our local councils that are failing to provide services that are due to us.
There are also numerous methods of peaceful resistance that we can exercise – including, withholding our payments for below par services.
We just need to be creative.
Even simply flying numerous balloons carrying messages of disgruntlement and dissent, or loudly honking our car hooters whenever we pass by senior government offices – can be forms of peaceful resistance.
Surely, can we genuinely be afraid of undertaking something like that?
Whether these actions yield immediate results or not should never be a factor – but, at least we have to be seen to be doing something in standing up for ourselves, loudly and clearly expressing our grievances.
Merely sitting back, and acting as if everything is alright has never solved anything.
It is better to fail trying, than never trying at all.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If Zimbabweans not angry enough over their oppression and suffering, then I don’t know what we really want!
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