If ever there is anything in Zimbabwe that infuriates me to the core, it is the sight of a once prosperous nation – whereby (irregardless of the numerous glaring racial injustices) the economy was so exceptionally outstanding that even the apparently disenfranchised and marginalized profoundly benefited, cities and towns operated with excellence, whilst products and services were world-class and reliable – yet, today, turned into a pathetic deplorable mess, with the only functional thing being the dysfunction.
As much as such statements predictably always incite and invite rabid and vitriolic attacks from those who refuse to perceive an irrefutable truth – most particularly, being regime apologists and sycophants, who would rather see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, whilst choosing to see and smell roses and perfume where there is nothing but rot and repugnance – I will never be deterred from telling it like it is.
Most of us are not here to tell fables that we were told by our grandparents and parents, through oral tradition spoken around a fire, as we roasted mealies and peanuts – but, we are firsthand witnesses of how this country used to be in the former days, and what has become of it.
This is a country, which we grew up in the 1970s, and, then still enjoyed some the remnants of its prosperity in the post-independence 1980s – although, it was evident that those were the final days – and as such, can never be told by anyone that I am wrong in my assertions, neither can it be possible to convince me otherwise, since we lived it, and experienced it…yet, had to sorrowfully watch it all wither away, like a rainbow in the horizon.
All we can do is reminisce about it with friends and family – remembering that we once had one of the largest iron and steel making companies in the world (Ziscosteel), which employed thousands, right within our own little town of Redcliff, yet was plundered and sucked dry by the post-independence Zimbabwe regime, until it was reduced into a mere shell – which, now is the proud home of several troops of baboons and monkeys.
I do not need to be told that glaring fact by some anti-government, and neo-colonialist agent – because I witnessed it myself.
All we can do now is sit around and talk about how we had running water continuously coming out of our taps within our own homes, and how our town’s streets were navigable, with lighting that could be seen miles away as one approached the town – yet now, one needs to fetch water from the nearest borehole (being a kilometer or two away), roads have become not only an eyesore but a real danger to vehicles, whilst the town itself lies in near darkness every night.
Whenever I show my own son my primary school pictures, he sincerely believes that I attended some top notch, highly expensive private institution somewhere far away (possibly overseas) – however, he has never believed me till this day that, the local dilapidated ghost-town looking school (where the pupils run around in less than examplary uniforms) is the very same place.
I also tell him that, we were readily provided with all the stationery we ever required (ranging from a wide assortment of textbooks, encyclopedia, and other reference books, to exercise books and pens) – yet, today, we (parents) are compelled to procure everything, including markers, chalk, and manila sheets for the teachers themselves!
Need I mention the place at which I was born (Torwood Hospital) which was considered one of the best in the country, blessed with what was considered state of the art equipment of that day – in fact, having been born without a pulse for over 45 minutes, I would have probably not being brought back to dear life, had Jehovah God not enabled me to be birthed at that place (whose amazing wealth of grace also made me defy a prognosis by the medical doctor involved, that although I had survived, I would be confined in a vegetative state for my whole life, as my brain was deprived of oxygen for far too long immediately after birth).
Yet, here I am!
The hospital in question? Well, needless to say, it suffered the same fate as everything else that once stood proudly during those days, and yet, today is run down, and possibly infested with venomous snakes and scorpions.
Although, I did hear that the government was turning it into a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation centre. Thank you COVID-19!
In a nutshell, in spite of what anyone can claim or accuse me of – this country used to be the envy of many – a result of exceptional management and governance, free of corruption and plunder – but, premised on the desire to see real growth, development, and prosperity for all… including, the supposedly oppressed and marginalized.
This is a most fundamental lesson the Zimbabwean authorities should have obtained from the Rhodesians – learning the value of honesty, hard work, and competence – yet, it would appear, the only thing they managed to copy were those dastardly wigs worn by judges, and a president who wished he were the queen of England, by riding in a horse-escorted carriage to the opening of parliament.
I have never said that I wished were back in Rhodesia, but if those who took over the country – promising milk and honey – dismally fail to perform better and deliver, than our colonizers, then what else are we expected to think of, besides the “good old days”? It is only natural.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org