Zimbabwe – Revolution eats its children

via Zimbabwe: Revolution eats its children by Lenox Mhlanga

PEOPLE like me tend to wear our political sentiments on our sleeves so to speak. It shouldn’t surprise anyone since we are the product of an education system that honed our skills in having a critical eye on everything around us.

At the University of Zimbabwe, in the mid 80’s, we used to chant the slogan forward ever, backward never! We were textbook revolutionaries, heavily schooled in Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara, certainly not Mao. It did not take long for us to realise that that the ‘revolution,’ had indeed lost its way.

The student demos of that time were against corruption and conspicuous consumption. We felt we had a duty to speak for our parents in Tsholotsho, Muzarabani, Gokwe, Matshetsheni, Dema, Gutu, Marange and many other places. Parents who had sold bags of maize, groundnuts and cotton to send us to university. We had to speak out for they could not see the avarice that was unfolding in the city.

The people they had elected were doing them a great disservice, abusing the taxes by lining their pockets and those of their cronies. We were fed up by what we saw. Mansions springing up in the elite suburbs just a stone’s throw away from campus, and shiny Mercedes Benz that zipped past us while we walked to and from college in the blistering sun.

And yet throughout the countryside our parents and relatives wallowed in poverty and they still do to this day. Made to feed on empty political slogans each time an election loomed on the horizon yet back to business unusual when the promises and threats had died down. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Initially the student demos were pro-government. We still had faith in the system, that it would somehow correct itself. But that soon became a pipe dream as impunity reigned supreme. The mantra of a one-party state rang louder and soon it became apparent that the revolution was in danger of regression.

Student politics are by nature a function of the prevailing environment. Students, by their nature verbose in discourse and energetic in deeds. Some of us, with the gift of the poison pen took our struggle to the manuscripts. Focus Magazine became a platform from where in-depth analysis and the somewhat acidic censure of the system took root.

It was no wonder it was proscribed by the university authorities, not once but several times. Its financial sources were blocked and distribution channels chocked. Yes, the writings of Tinoziva Bere, Moetsabi Titus Moetsabi, Laxton Tendai Biti, Lawrence Tshuma, Trevor Ncube, Tawana Kupe, and the cartoons of Lenox Mhlanga among others had become a threat to the establishment.

I was reduced to pasting my caricatures on the door of my room in New Complex One. A name more appropriate for a factory than an academic residence. In fact they were, factories that unwittingly manufactured dissent. Student activism had taken a turn for the worst. The state panicked, and unleashed its machinery onto campus.

The entry of the riot police onto what we considered to be the hallowed ground of academic freedom was a signal that intolerance would be the default setting of the system from then on. The taunts the paramilitary endured about their level of education was just a contract of the frustrations that had been pent up over a long time.

The cops took it personally and they became willing tools of the kind of brutality that has become so synonymous with anything resembling crowd control. The revolution was eating its own children.

That a political movement would emerge from this was just a matter of time. Generations of student leaders had been put through the paces on campus, sharpening skills of debate, speech, negotiation and evading tear gas and rubber truncheons. The bitterness was palpable and the bravery sometimes bordered on suicidal.

There was bound to be a spill-over. The student leaders graduated and entered society at large. Still full of pent up emotions and lofty ideals. Some became unemployable because of their ‘dangerous and poisonous’ ideals. I was labelled rebellious at my first port of employment and promptly transferred to a frustratingly boring backwater. I am sure there are many who suffered the same fate.

It only served to add fuel to the fire burning inside us. The result was more dissent in various forms, some of which resulted the foundation of present day opposition politics. It was an outlet and an attempt at a lasting solution to a revolution that had convoluted its founding ideals. We have indeed come a long way, and the journey to a brighter future seems longer still.



  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 11 years ago

    Four legs good, two legs better.

  • comment-avatar
    Guvnor 11 years ago

    One would not expect the victims to cheer their own destroyers.

  • comment-avatar
    Inini 11 years ago

    Speak Lenox, speak! But you forgot to mention the mercs that came to SU to pick all the girls? That was also a major source of discontent!

  • comment-avatar

    Lenox, Thanks for this. Also, the state planted its own puppets to fight student activism. Today, I wonder if AGO was really one of us. The Moto Magazine was ‘breathing fire,’ supported to a less extent by Parade and Prize Magazines. The Hansard was a marvel to read, as the firebrand MPs of the time championed vibrant discussions on democracy. The likes of Sidney Malunga, Lazarus Nzarayebani, Edgar ‘Twoboy’ Tekere & B Hove. But these are just memories, where are we today? Imagine Chinotimba in Parliament! These are my people, Dark Skinned, governed by those in Dark Glasses, operating in the Dark! But, time will come, when the Sun will not set until the Will of the people prevails. There is a precedent for this in the Bible, when Joshua ordered the Sun to stand still, until he finished the fight with his enemies.

  • comment-avatar
    Morris 11 years ago

    Why don’t all the former UBAs (those that are willing) form a grand movement and try to see if we cannot push national politics to some level of sanity? How can all of us educated as we are allow a cabal of grade 7s to be used to break the spirit of the revolution?

  • comment-avatar

    pliz ubas and usas lets unite and form our own party that will change things for the better

  • comment-avatar
    Charles Chindove 11 years ago

    My Student Heroes was Arthur Mutambara, an once Engineering Student who jumped from third floor, once the “Dark Glass” guys had cornered him.Sat the end of year exams straight from Prison and got first class, and would say “Ladies and Gentlemen lets adumbrate our action plan for the strike—–” when he was addressing Students before the Student strike.But where is he now? in the Comfort Zone.
    Where is Brian Kagoro, in South Africa.
    Where is Tawanda Zhakazha?
    Student leaders who were active, where are they now?

  • comment-avatar
    Phunyukabemphethe 11 years ago

    And now that same Mtambara is about to join Gukurahundi ZANU PF and become a minister under the same Gukurahundi Mugabe who once beat him to pulp!!

  • comment-avatar
    tawanda 11 years ago

    Panguva yatsvangirayi,vanhu takakanganwa what it meant to have your whole familly depended on you uchiwana two cents pajoni.Now with Mugabe not having checks and balances,Maone chaiwo…Guys we need to fight…
    #what kind of court makes a ruling on a case that has been withdrawn

  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 11 years ago

    Who cares about the children? They are all a bunch of sellouts who were brainwashed by British mind-control devices broadcasted via Studio 7, SABC, Sky News, and VOA News.

    Long live the Revolution!