Each and every one of us has a family, has friends, and lives in a community – and, there is one common thread between all these: a strong sense of peer review, as we have a responsibility towards one another, and holding each one accountable for one’s behavior, or misbehaviour.
That is the African way – as the family, friends, and community are effectively one powerful system, that ensures that each member plays their part with the utmost responsibility, bringing any who stray to account, and basically being ‘our brother’s keepers’.
That is why, when we were growing up, even someone who was not your own biological parents, nor a blood relative, could justifiably rebuke and chastise any within the community, who had been found on the wrong side of acceptable ethical and moral standards – and, all those who did not play their part, who reneged, or shied away, from exercising such an valuable role of ensuring that all within the community abided with these values, were themselves considered irresponsible.
Any failures and weaknesses in this strong peer review system, would lead to the inevitable breakdown of the community.
Such is exactly what we are witnessing on the African continent in general, and the southern African region in particular – as, contrary to our traditionally well-known and respected strong peer review principles, we, unfortunately, have countries that shun their responsibilities by looking away, and standing aside, whilst their follow neighbours embark on a clearly disastrous, dangerous, and destructive road.
We have too many examples of such unAfrican behaviour – with countries such as, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, to name but only a few – being left to their own devices, as their governments have unleashed ruinous and murderous policies, largely against a defenceless and innocent population, yet both the continental body (African Union – AU), and various regional organizations, lamely took no notice, or uttered useless statements, urging “antagonistic parties involved to resolve their problems peacefully” (or, any such ridiculous words), without so much as any concrete action being taken.
In our own southern Africa, Zimbabwe has been the ‘village rogue’, outcast, and ‘bad apple’ – practically, placing the whole region at security risk, through its government’s nefarious, oppressive, and brutal policies toward the citizenry, coupled by rampant corruption, and unprecedented economic incompetence, resulting not only in instability within the country, but also a great trek of predominantly illegal migration to neighbouring states (most notably, the more economically advanced South Africa), as hapless and impoverished Zimbabweans desperately seek for some semblance of sustainable livelihood.
Yet, what are Zimbabwe’s brothers and sisters in the southern African community doing? Basically, zero, nix, nothing, zilch!
As such, when we watch governments like that of South Africa make so much noise about illegal crossing of its border with Zimbabwe – even going to the extent of deploying a whole minister of Home Affairs, and military helicopters to monitor the situation at points of entry – is nothing short of laughable and ludicrous.
Before rushing to cry loud and long over this deluge of illegal migrants, the South African government needs to first ask themselves – “How did this situation reach this level? How did we ourselves contribute to this, and do we not share in the blame?”
If the authorities in Pretoria want to be brutally honest with themselves, then the answer would be, “The situation was allowed to reach this dismal level, as a result of the repressive apartheid-like misgovernance in Zimbabwe, and yes, we carry some of the blame, as we pathetically failed in our community responsibility of holding our neighbours accountable for their actions”.
As with any other family, friendship, or community, the adage “You can take a horse to the river, but you can’t make it drink” surely holds true, but responsible members should, at least, be seen to be taking ‘the horse to the river’.
However, what we have witnessed with all countries in the region, and South Africa in particular – as not only the strongest in the region, but also the biggest victim of the illegal migration – has been nothing more than farcical and clearly insincere measures, such as so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’ practised by then president Thabo Mbeki (which effectively endorsed the malicious and atrocious Robert Gabriel Mugabe reign of terror, and brazen electoral fraud), to the recent comical missions sent by current president Cyril Ramaphosa, who appeared more like tourists, who had come simply to enjoy the hospitality of the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime, than seriously holding a fellow brother accountable.
As that is what should be expected from brothers and sisters.
As much as I am an only child to my parents, I have experienced what true love of family should be – most particularly, when my life appeared on the verge of speeding off the rails, through my rebellious and wayward shameful behavior, especially when I was in still in my twenties – yet, my uncles, aunties, cousin brothers and sisters never held back in ensuring that I mended my ways, by firmly and uncompromisingly confronting me, and holding me to account.
Without them, I can not even imagine what would have become of me, or even if I would still be alive today.
True family, friends, and community stand together – and, that is not done by looking aside, or standing akimbo, whilst one of their own is on the path of destruction, and being a complete moron, but should immediately step in, with seriousness and genuine determination in ensuring that their fellow loved one is brought back to sanity.
There is no greater love than never compromising in calling a spade a spade, as we boldly and firmly reign in one of our own who would be going astray – as that is the responsible and truly African way to go – failure of which, only results in the misery and insecurity the situation in Zimbabwe is being left to cause throughout the southern African region, through neighbours, whose version of community is myopic and irresponsible.
© 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: email@example.com