The recent scathing remarks by renowned Zimbabwean born and bred rugby player, Tendai “The Beast” Mutawarira – in which he stated some of this reasons for leaving his homeland, and moving to South Africa (where he has since been plying his illustrious career as a Springboks player) as the flagrant state-sponsored lawlessness and violation of human rights – has attracted an expected diverse response from fellow compatriots.
There were, obviously, those who agreed with his sentiments – whilst, there was bound to be those who regarded such utterances as “an unwarranted attack on one’s own country, which is not expected from any patriotic citizen, especially said on the international stage”, since Mutawarira expressed his views to a global news media.
Well, as one of those people who writes and speaks nearly everyday to a wide section of both the local and worldwide audience on the drastic, unbearable, and intolerable situation in our country, Zimbabwe, I completely feel where my “sazita” (namesake) is coming from.
Quite honestly, I do not believe that there is anyone who enjoys, or even relishes, the opportunity to criticize, disparage, or even condemn his own country.
As a matter of fact, I have never actually come across anyone who has done that – but, what I have surely come across (and, I being one of them), are those who can no longer stand the unending suffering and repression at the hands of our so-called leaders – who have turned out to be nothing more than misleaders, who have driven our once prosperous country down a perilous cliff into a abyss of misery and death.
That is what most of us are critical of – and, quite clearly this is not criticizing the country, by any stretch of the imagination…even in a place like Zimbabwe, where the ruling elite intentionally distort the distinction between the ruling party, the government, and the country – which are three entirely separate entities.
Naturally, Zimbabweans do not find any pleasure in being critical.
In fact, we would rather keep quiet, even in the midst of untold suffering and agony – which explains the Shona adage, “usafugure hapwa pavanhu”, meaning, one should not air out their dirty laundry in public.
Zimbabweans are generally private people.
However, when one finds a Zimbabwean finally coming out expressing some grave misgivings about their state of affairs, then there will definitely be something that needs serious attention.
Ask a Zimbabwean how they are, and the expected response would be, “I’m alright”.
Nonetheless, when they no longer give that automatic response, but actually tell you that “zvinhu hazvina kumira mushe” (all is not well), then that person needs to be taken seriously, as there would be a genuinely huge problem, that deserves to be attended to.
The same applies in a home – with most Zimbabwean spouses deciding to keep mum, even when there are clearly challenges within the marriage – however when the aggrieved partner finally decides to openly speak out, then there will usually be grave problems, that have become too unmanageable and intolerable to remain silent about.
Therefore, for most Zimbabweans – and, even myself, as I have made it no secret that I do not get even a single cent from writing these nearly daily articles, with some people finding it perplexing where I get all this energy and inspiration from – we are fed up with all this state-authored suffering, we can longer bear the daily struggles of trying to make ends meet, and we no longer have the patience to spend countless hours trying to figure out where and how we will get money for the next bill payment, or our children’s fees for the next school term starting in only two weeks time.
We can not take it any longer always fearing being persecuted, or arrested on spurious charges, or harassed, or beaten up, or even abducted – merely for crying out.
Even our own singing sensation, Selma Mtukudzi – daughter of national hero, and globally acclaimed musician, Oliver – was recently subjected to toxic vitriol for merely crying out to the president, imploring him to be more considerate of the dismal plight of their industry, which has been locked down for a year now, leaving local artists wallowing in abject poverty.
Did Selma also criticize the country? Was Selma also unpatriotic?
Instead of the ruling elite, and their social media trolls, perpetually being in defensive mode, they would better be served if they focused more on addressing these genuine concerns raised by Zimbabweans, on a daily basis.
If my own son were to come to me saying, “Dad, I’m hungry and cold, because you haven’t bought me any food, or warm clothes” – should my first reaction be to accuse him of being disrespectful, beat him up, and even punish him, or should I acknowledge my wrongs (without even making excuses, and throwing blame on others), ask for his forgiveness, and ensure that I do all that I can to fulfil my responsibilities as his father?
Why, then, do those in power in this country, find this very simple concept nearly impossible to grasp?
Is it not more self-defeating to disparage those whom they lead (and, are expected to protect and care for) when they cry out, and have expressed their honest utter displeasure and dissatisfaction at the way the country is being run – instead, of merely acknowledging their failings and shortcomings as a leadership, plead for forgiveness, and pledge to earnestly address all the grievances raised?
That is what great leaders do.
© 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