I have been writing a column for the Southern Eye for a while now. The title of the column is ‘Agreeing to Disagree’.
I kind of use it as a platform to ask, probe, query and poke viciously at sleeping dogs. Here are just a few of the things I’ve been mulling over:
The elections are over, what else is left other than closing a chapter on Zimbabwe bearing in mind that:
What remains open is the next blank page after this chapter. What remains alive to possibility and what our hopes can latch onto and our dreams can hinge on, is the undeniable fact that five years from now there exists an opportunity to rewrite the narrative. It is an opportunity that can only be realised by the choices we make today and the resolutions that we commit to here and now.
I think our commitment to the future of our country will be determined by the extent to which we are willing to care. When we get to that point where we want to throw our hands up in despair, it might be worth considering the possibility that caring is the only patriotic thing left to do because:
Indifference is the easiest thing in life. It is the most convenient cope-out of all. Just decide you don’t care. Decide you’re not going to lose any sleep over anything that doesn’t appear to remotely affect your bread-and-butter
issues. But the problem is that if you stop caring, you give power to those who would run the country aground and surrender your agency as a person to determine the course of your own life (to whatever extent it is within your means to influence political actors).
Five years is a long time not to care.
And then there was a week in which ZANU PF (in usual consultation with itself) conferred national hero status to three people…. it made me think about the selection criteria and wonder how much of the history I think I know is actually accurate. I think there’s a real possibility that we will remember historical lies for as long as ZANU PF maintains its hegemonic and monologic stranglehold on the nation’s liberation struggle narrative. In my musings I wrote:
It has been said that without memory we become less than ourselves and it matters what our real historical narrative is all about rather than having one party using history to claim political legitimacy. Where are the people who remember differently? Where are the people who were there when it happened and who can refute what the public media has constantly churned out, what the history books have claimed and what Zanu PF has insisted on propagating?
What really happened? Is it true that Zanu PF single-handedly liberated the country as they have claimed non-stop?
More recently, I wondered about the love and the hate that Mugabe attracts. I was thinking of my own ambivalent feelings towards the man. I agree with so much of what he stands for (it appeals to my pan-African sensibilities) but then I find myself vehemently opposed to the manner in which it is implemented (e.g the need for land reform was noble in principle but the land grabs were unconscionable). I do wonder at the way in which he is adored on the continent and I wonder what sacrifices I made to facilitate it because who’s footing the bill for Mugabe’s glory, if not ordinary citizens like me. While they may praise him, there’s another side to the story:
How do I tell these people who gaze at my Zimbabweanness through rosetinted lenses, of nights in which neighbors tossed stones on the roof to help me wake up and collect water from the taps because it had returned just for a few minutes? How do I explain standing in queues at borders hoping to go and buy basics from neighboring countries, queueing at banks trying to withdraw a set daily amount of money whose worth was devaluing while I queued, queueing at supermarkets where I joined stampedes for a packet of salt, and getting whipped one day by an overzealous city council security officer who was manning the queues at a taxi rank after I was pushed out of the line and he thought I was trying to jump the queue? There’s a part of me that feels like Mugabe wanted to make a point. If the adulation of the Africans I have met is anything to go by, he succinctly made his point, but he made it at my expense.
Suffice to say,I’ve got a lot more questioning, querying, probing and poking to do because somehow; the answers matter to me now more than ever before. It must be a mid-life crisis of sorts. But these things do haunt me and keep me up at night. Writing the column is becoming therapeutic – somehow.