Building a future

via Building a future – The Zimbabwean 16 April 2015 by Magari Mandebvu

Suppose you have had an accident and been injured, there are several ways you might cope with the situation.

If any injury does not seem serious, there are some people who would continue with life as if nothing had happened, and try to forget about it. This could cause more problems because not every serious injury is immediately obvious.

For example, you might have sustained a tiny crack in your spine. You might not even suspect that had happened, but if the crack is in one of the bones of you neck, you might one day turn your head quickly, the crack would open, snap your spinal cord and you’d be dead. Or if a cut is not cleaned, dirt that got into it could cause infection that could kill you, or mean that the infected limb would need to be cut off.

If you are in pain you might, in some cases, spend the rest of your life remembering and complaining about your injury, even if it only causes occasional pain. You are not really disabled by the accident, but you disable yourself by clinging to an image of yourself as a victim. This may not seem very likely, but something like this is very common, as I’ll show.

A third possibility is that you will go to hospital or your local clinic for a check-up, to see whether you need treatment. Then you can get proper treatment, which might mean spending some time in bandages or splints, but that inconvenience is worthwhile because after it you hope you will once again enjoy the good health you had before the injury. If you were in a traffic accident, or injured at work, the law requires that the person responsible for causing injury pays all or part of any hospital costs.

Now let us look at how someone who has been injured feels deep inside. The kind of reconciliation we heard about in 1980 seems to have resembled the first case. “Forgive and forget” leaves the injured person injured but trying to suppress their anger and the sense that they have been treated unjustly. The injuries we were told to forget in 1980 festered, poisoned our social relations and led to the destructive outbreak we saw in 2000. That is not the way to build peace and justice in a society fractured by colonialism and war.

There are people who tell us we must be constantly remembering old injuries. A lot of Jamaican and black American sloganising and music we’ve heard in recent years, especially from Dead BC, encourage this kind of remembering. Zanu (PF) seems to have gone into that mode in 2000 and got stuck there. Maybe they were expressing feelings they had been hiding since 1980? But where does that take us? Into hondo isingaperi with no real problem resolved. Why should residents in the Mbare flats still be urged, after 35 years of independence, to blame the colonialists because nobody unblocks their drains and nobody will till Tony Blair himself comes to shovel sewage out? But there is a third way. What if we had, at independence, all sat down as you would if you were involved in a road accident, to state where we felt injured and to try to resolve who was responsible for repairing the damage? If we had done that, we would have healed a lot of the wounds. Instead of which we now hear children shouting about the injuries their parents or grandparents suffered and demanding “an eye for an eye”.

Of course, we would not have resolved everything; we can’t bring back the dead or restore lost limbs. Even a rebuilt house is not the exact one that was burnt out in 1976. But we could say that everyone did their best to repair the damage. Why not try that now? That would be better than “an eye for an eye”, which only leaves everyone blind.


  • comment-avatar
    The Mind Boggles 7 years ago

    Sensible dialogue rather than senseless violence!!!!