Source: True indigenisation – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 27, 2016
From my own schooldays I remember that we were drilled to chant an ancient saying (in Latin!): “We learn, not for school, but for life.” Indeed, teachers must show their children a purpose in life, something to live for, a vision of a better world to create. Maybe such an idea motivated our educationists to compose the “National Pledge” which is based on the Preamble of the Constitution.
Fr Oskar Wermter SJ
It is full of beautiful sentiments — if only they were true! “United in our diversity”. Did not our army slaughter 20 000 innocent people in Matabeleland and Midlands provinces? Did we not deprive countless farmworkers of work and their livelihood, denying them citizenship though born in this country? Are we not using racist hate speech against people of different ethnic backgrounds?
All this we do claiming to be “united by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality”. If you actually make use of your democratic freedom, be careful! You may get a sinister phone call and a bullet in your letterbox.
Is justice being done to victims of political violence? Do they receive compensation, or at least a public admittance of guilt and an apology?
We are proud of standing up for “gender equality”. But are girls not abused by fellow students, teachers, even ministers of religion? At a time of unemployment, are men not exploiting women on the job market?
Are men not celebrating “commercial sex work” as a “profession”? After all, it is for their pleasure. Human trafficking is on the increase. Equality? What equality?
The “National Pledge” is making all these claims about our national virtues before Almighty God. This is the most dubious aspect of this text soon to be chanted by our children brainlessly.
The Almighty is light and truth. You cannot deceive Him. You must not call on the God of justice while tolerating oppression and exploitation. “Take your wrongdoing out of my sight. Cease doing evil. Learn to do good, search for justice, discipline the violent, be just to the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1: 16 – 17).
The leaders want our children “to commit themselves to honesty”. Fine. But what if these same children ask their fathers, “Daddy, what does ‘corruption’ mean?” If honesty comes at a cost, can poor people afford it? If dishonesty pays, why be honest? Explain that to your little ones.
Maybe before we make our children chant this “pledge”, we must first convince them that lies, deception, thieving and looting pay in the short run, but destroy the country in the long run. The last 36 years show this quite clearly. Once mutual trust is undermined, the whole edifice of our nation collapses.
This is the aim we want to give to our children: Building the country. None but ourselves can do that. After de-industrialisation and the demolition of our farming and manufacturing sectors, we have to start from scratch. Only by doing it ourselves can we become true owners of it. Indigenisation by laying our hands on assets produced by foreign firms will not give us a true sense of ownership. Fighting over the remnants of Rhodesia is not going to create a new Zimbabwe.
Being “committed to honesty and the dignity of hard work” is a noble sentiment. But is that the lesson our children have learnt in the “National Service”? I doubt it. The boys learnt political agitation through intimidating their elders with violence. Girls were abused to be ready fodder for the “sex industry”and earn their living by pleasing “sugar daddies”.
Our greatest treasure is not the diamonds (which vanished mysteriously anyhow and did not benefit the nation as starting capital). Human resources — the people — are more precious than gold and diamonds. The men, women and children of Zimbabwe, their gifts and talents, can transform the country, provided they can live in “freedom, equality and justice”.
If this country has not yet completely gone down the drain, then we have to thank the women of Zimbabwe for that, their loving care and deep sense of responsibility for their families and at their workplaces as teachers, nurses, doctors, media workers, managers, administrators , social and community workers, often enough as volunteers or for little pay.
And yet they are raped, sold in human trafficking as sex slaves and suffer in domestic violence. Can we answer for this terrible waste of the most precious human resource before Almighty God?
What is the future of those schoolchildren who will have to recite the “pledge” as proud Zimbabweans? The fate of their elder brothers and sisters does not augur well for the years to come when they have left school. Our education system prepares only a minority for the life of work. Only a few are given an opportunity to learn to appreciate the “dignity of hard work”. Countless young men are never admitted to the world of work.
Losing one’s job after years of employment and honest work is devastating for many. But never having worked at all even at 30 or 40 years of age, unable to found a family because of poverty and our merciless “lobola inflation”, that is even worse. It simply ruins such young people for life.
We have to “indigenise” by our own work. That needs creativity, the ability to work in a team, mutual trust, enterprise and an entrepreneurial spirit.
In one word, it needs freedom. Shackled by an oppressive “unity”, so many left the country. Only freedom will open the doors for them again and make them come back. Overseas, they can find employment. Back home, they can take ownership of the country of their birth.
Hope will never die.