It was a truly sorry sight.
I could not figure out just how exactly I felt – sad, or angry, or did I feel sorry for them – but, all I know is that, what was in my heart was not pretty, neither was it comfortable.
Surely, how would anyone feel, after watching people celebrating, and exhibiting transports of jubilation, after being given ramshackle and decrepit 1950s trains to ferry them to and from work – a bunch of wagons that should have either been discarded in the dustbin of history, or better still, placed in a museum for posterity?
This is exactly what happened yesterday, 7 September 2021, after the failed and embarrassing government of Zimbabwe decided to roll out – as if from some dusty forgotten and abandoned basement – trains from the Rhodesia era, as a “solution” for its abysmal incapabilities in providing an efficient urban transport system…thereby, leaving thousands of commuters stranded in towns and cities across the country, resorting to banned, and at times, unsafe alternatives.
What stabbed my heart more than this failure of governance – something, not surprising at all, since it has become the hallmark of the Zimbabwe government for the past forty-one (41) years of its rein of disaster – however, the apparent acceptance, by a significant section of the citizenry, of this lowering of standards and mediocrity, was just too much to stomach.
Maybe, most were born well into the 1990s and early 2000s – such that, they know no other life than this mediocrity that the country has been reduced into – nonetheless, can we seriously settle for this as an appropriate conclusion?
Yes, we have a generation that has never seen a truly functional industrial complex (most companies having either been looted into oblivion by top government officials, or could not survive under this economic maladministration), or have never experienced the joys of a shower (without any tap water in their areas for over two decades), or possibly have never travelled on a train (let alone even seen one, save for the disintegrating fossils currently being taken out of the woodworks).
However, we do have those who are old enough to remember – who were adults or old enough to recall the Rhodesian or immediate post-independence Zimbabwean days.
Why would a people who should – had the country been governed properly (in the same fashion as other normal countries around the world) – be driving around in their own cars, feel so blessed in queuing for hours on end, in the chilling cold, sweltering heat, or drenching rain, for public transportation?
To make matters worse, celebrate being given some 1950s trains – which in all likelihood, no longer have any decent sitting, and maybe so run down to the point of actually being a danger.
Furthermore, what would make a well-educated young man or woman – who could be a successful entrepreneur, artiste, writer, teacher, nurse, or even doctor – jump in excitement, and ululate in unrestrained joy, after being given a flee market stall to sell some cheap, largely imported wares, as a result of the lack of opportunities within the country?
What manner of a country can drive nearly every youth to be a small scale farmer, or artisanal gold miner – even rejoicing at being given plots for the purpose, or allowed to dig up disused and abandoned shafts – yet, during their childhood had their own dreams to become anything they wanted to be in life.
Yet, they can not follow their dreams, since that would lead them into untold suffering and impoverishment, due to an economy that has been sucked dry by an insatiably greedy parasitic ruling elite?
In fact, those who genuinely desire to be in farming, as is their passion, find themselves without sufficient agricultural land – considering that most of the best, most fertile, and largest tracts have been parcelled out to the ruling class, and their cartel friends.
Why would people cheer receiving food aid, and other handouts – as a direct result of the unaffordability and unavailability of basic necessities – most of which are taken for granted by citizens of other countries, that we may even have the audacity of looking down upon, as less developed than ourselves?
When our children are no longer provided adequate stationery, textbooks, and other learning material – what would make us see absolutely nothing wrong with such a disturbing picture?
I, honestly, am at a loss as to a fitting explanation.
There are those who may point to the famed, “Stockholm Syndrome” – a psychological condition in which a hostage emotionally bonds to his or her captor – and, that makes a lot of sense.
Have we become so subjugated, abused, and disempowered by those in power, such that we now praise them for given us even a mere morsel of food, or crumbs from their table of opulence – ill-gotten wealth that has been acquired through the grand theft of our national resources, which we should all be partakers?
Do we not feel ashamed, as a people, to accept, and even celebrate, such indescribable dehumanization?
We truly need some serious self-introspection as Zimbabweans, and genuinely ask ourselves whether we do not deserve the inhuman and degrading livelihood that we have been subjected to by the ruling elite – since, we never appear to be riled and agitated at this grave social injustice.
© 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: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org