The huge mystery surrounding the apparently inexplicable and incomprehensible “fear” or “reluctance” by the people of Zimbabwe in bravely standing up and speaking out for themselves, has never abated.
If anything, as our suffering and impoverishment have unbearably increased, there seems to be a proportional increase in our docility and cowardice.
Yet, one would have expected the opposite to be true – whereby, a people who increasingly become dissatisfied with the way they are treated by those who oppress them, the higher the probability of them showing resistance and even rebelliousness against their tormentors.
At least, that is the case in other countries, which we can term as “normal” – such as our neighboring South Africa, and numerous others throughout the world – where citizens do not tolerate nonsense from their leaders, and will readily (without a second thought) rise up, should their rights be trampled upon.
Of course, I do not, and never will, condone the use of barbaric violence in expressing one’s indignation and grievances – but, there are always ways and means for peaceful resistance – a phenomenon propagated by revolutionary luminaries as Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Junior, who led from the front their people’s fearless and unrelenting standing up for their rights to a dignified life.
This is not to say that their oppressors were gracious enough in returning the favor of peace – no, not at all.
In fact, their peaceful resistance was met with brazenly cruel and savage brutal attacks by the ruling elite – yet, this never dampened the people’s spirit to keep on with their struggle.
So, what makes Zimbabweans a different breed – who appear willing fodder for the world’s reject leaders?
Why do we seem content with abandoning our obligations for our own lives to others – usually, politicians, who obviously harbour their own power ambitions, that have very little, or absolutely nothing, to do with the livelihoods of the ordinary populace?
We only come into their remembrance, when they need our support and votes at election time – since that is the only constitutional way for the attainment of those power goals.
If these politicians could enter the halls of power without the need of the popular vote – those gullibly believing that political parties care about them, would have had a rude awakening to the realities of life on this planet.
As a matter of fact, politicians’ true colours are regularly displayed – but, for some strange reason, we choose to be blind.
How many times have we complained that they only remember us during elections – always coming bearing gifts, handouts, and donations for the people, meeting and mingling with everyone, and promising all those lofty “castles in the sky”?
However, soon after naively providing them free berth into office, the gifts suddenly dry up, our “loving, sociable, and ever-present” leaders vanish into thin air, and those promises of “heaven on earth” never materialize…in fact, our plight only worsens.
…until the next elections.
Do we ever take the time to ask ourselves that childhood question that was forever on our lips – WHY?
Simply put – politicians do not care about our lives, and expecting them to do our dirty work for us, or placing our interests ahead of their own, is plainly foolish.
It does not matter whether we believe that Zimbabwe is a true democracy or not – or, if we support the governing political party or not – but, a people who know what they want, never fail to demand their rights, and stand up for themselves.
No wonder we witness these trends even in the so-called “democratic nations” – more so, in such states – since their citizens fully comprehend their role in ensuring that their leaders fulfill what they were mandated to achieve.
They do not merely sit back, fold their arms, and expect things to work out on their own – what my dear late father used to call, “they do thega” – but, we need to push, loudly, and fiercely demanding our inalienable rights as Zimbabweans.
Surely, if you were to lend someone some cash (that you wanted to use) and, they failed to pay back at the agreed time – would you not demand it back, even if this was your best friend?
So, why can Zimbabweans not demand their rights from their leaders – even if they are from their own political party?
Demanding one’s rights does not, and should not, necessarily equate to hatred and animosity.
Nonetheless, there are those who have raised some very valid points – to the effect that, Zimbabwe was not a truly democratic country, and thus, any such “demanding of one’s rights” (no matter how peacefully executed) will surely always be met with a menacing and brutal response by those in power.
Indeed, it is perfectly understandable for fear to be a natural reaction – which can easily put to rest any such thoughts of peacefully resisting.
However, I still have serious challenges with such a line of thinking.
There has to be something more to this.
Yes, when confronted with imminent danger – the natural reaction is either flee or fight – so, why do we always appear to opt for “fleeing”, why can we never “fight” (be it peacefully, by standing our ground, or even employing methods of resistance that do not involve direct confrontation)?
There has to be an underlying cause for Zimbabweans’ fear – which, quite clearly, goes beyond the mere natural apprehension of pain and death.
Let us remember, when someone believes that they have a genuine cause to fight for – be it, in protecting one’s family from danger – the unction to fight kicks in, as opposed to fleeing (although, I have come across some men who have ran away leaving their wives and children to face a threat alone).
Therefore, the question again is why – why do Zimbabweans appear to be automatically wired to the “flee” mode, even when they need to stand up for themselves in the face of untold suffering and impoverishment, cold-heartedly authored by their leaders?
Why does the “fight” mode not kick in – as when a mother sees her own baby being attacked by a crocodile or hippo, who fights to the death, if need be?
As far as I can analyse, there is something that discouraged Zimbabweans from sacrificing themselves for the greater good of their country, themselves, and future generations.
There is something that has made us ask ourselves – why place my life at risk, or waste my precious time, on endeavors that will seldom bear the expected results?
I am more than convinced that the answer to this question lies in our history – our liberation struggle history.
There was clearly a time in which Zimbabweans were not driven by fear – as they intrepidly stood up for themselves, sacrificing everything (family, future, education, comfort, and even their lives) as they confronted a more powerful and ruthless colonial Rhodesia regime, without ever quivering or looking back.
Yet, what came out of this commendable and most admirable courage?
What became of the lives of not only those men and women who gave their all for the independence of Zimbabwe – but also, the dream of a dignified, equal, and prosperous livelihood for every citizen of this country, whether politically-connected or not?
Do we not come across numerous people – especially, those old enough to remember life under colonial rule – who, through their utter dismay and disgruntlement at the untold poverty and suffering in “independent Zimbabwe”, never shy away from daringly declaring that, “Rhodesia was better”?
In fact, in spite of the thousands of Zimbabweans who thronged the streets of the capital Harare in November 2017, having played a very insignificant role, and never having sacrificed anything, in the removal of then tyrant Robert Gabriel Mugabe (during the military coup d’etat) – have we not heard the cries that the situation has actually worsened under the so-called “new dispensation”?
Therefore, it becomes clearer as to why, possibly, Zimbabweans would rather (as if by default) automatically switch to “flee”, and “docile” – as they no longer see the benefits of sacrificing their lives.
They have seen the pathetic and painful gross failure of the liberation struggle – and, even when they face trials and tribulations, they simply ask, “even if I sacrifice my life, what guarantees are there that life in Zimbabwe will improve”?
This is nothing short of tragic – that the failures of the past, now negatively impair and impact the present.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com