You lied, Delta

In 2011, I said something so unpopular that several of my close friends took me to task over it.

But of all the people who vehemently disagreed with me; I remember that Munyaradzi (who’s more like a young brother to me) called me a liar.

In reaction to a blog post titled, I once met a Zimbabwean…, Munyaradzi really let me have it, lol… and given the fact that he is quite fond of me…it says something for him to have responded in such a vehement fashion:

I must say how disappointed I am in you for allowing emotions instead of simple logic to run you my dear, first of all, you as a journalist you must be aware of the donor funding that is circulating in this country, if the Americans want to fund internet access, they can, and let us not be naive about that.

The issue that America does not have a perfect democracy does not exonerate us from the injustice that has been suffered in this country.

It is no reason why there were land grabs that caused more harm than good, it is no reason why the militia was let loose on the general populace.

The violence that has been a common feature in the political landscape, families that have been crippled families.

It is not all rosy as you were trying to paint.

We have weaknesses and the first step of emancipation is accepting who we are and that we surely need help.

The economy is struggling because of people who are so ignorant and refuse to be told anything. You lied as our representative Delta.

“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.” ― Joseph Joubert

And in my response, on the comments section of the same blog post – I said:

You are proving my point Munya….. my point was and is – that what you have just narrated is ALL that is known about Zimbabwe…

But if anyone, including you, wants to argue that what you have outlined above is the entirety of the Zimbabwean story – then I certainly differ with them.

You want to talk about the land grabs; why don’t you go right back to the beginning of the dispute over the land and to why the land was such a contentious matter?

That way you can fully appreciate the extreme sense of frustration that must have driven those people to take such drastic and unlawful courses of action.

While I totally condemn the unlawfulness of what they did – no one can deny the legitimacy of their grievances – not even you.

No one can deny the moral claim that they (and we all) have to the land.

Please don’t just pick out nyaya yema-land grabs as if it was all an isolated event and not part of a greater process in which blacks tried (without much success) to remedy a historical wrong of land dispossession.

And in trying to remedy this wrong – some took the law into their hands and invaded the farms.

They were wrong – it is true.

BUT what was done to them – to us – (dispossession) was wrong as well.

There is no need for me to be emotional when there is a clear historical context to explain the events and possible motives that I believe contributed to the chaotic, violent and infamous land grabs.

My question now is – who ever tells that side of the story? The story that goes beyond just the grabbing of the land?

Who ever tells the story of a disenfranchised black majority and a privileged white minority?

Who ever bothers to explain the deep feelings of frustration, disgruntlement and genuine grievance that I believe fueled the land grabs?

Who ever bothers to mention that men and women went and got killed fighting to own a piece of land?

This is the missing part of the narrative Munya.

I am not disputing what you have raised but I think in leaving out the context (or regarding it as irrelevant) you perpetuate an incomplete narrative of Zimbabwe and a distorted account of the land dispute.

So I told the stories no one else seems to bother about and the stories no one seems to care to remember…because they are all stories about Zimbabwe – in its various epochs and each successive event triggering a myriad of reactions.

If you concentrate only on the “consequences” of things and ignore the causes… how can you then state that you have done justice to the story of our nation?

In it’s ugliness, in its splendor – we must own our history and we must tell it and we must occasionally use it to understand our present.

What you have narrated is what is already out there – who is going to tell the bits that you have left out??

So having established in my post from yesterday that I have a right to be wrong – this post is about continuing a conversation around the emotive land issue.

It is a conversation I started in a YouTube video (whose backlash was the subject of my last blog post) and it is a conversation that carried over to the blog post which is the subject of this current post and it is a conversation that carried over into my MA dissertation where the enlightening views of academics such as T.O Ranger, Blessing-Miles Tendi, Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu, Sarah Chiumbu, James Muzondidya, Brian Raftopolous, Norma Kriger, Sue Onslow among many others shed a lot of light on my own preoccupations with Zimbabwe’s history and the centrality of the land question.

I am still on a quest to fathom the meaning and nuances of it all. And if advancing unpopular views and playing the devil’s advocate is a price to pay for a more honest reflection on the issue – then I will exercise my right to be wrong and defy every ideological bully who would presume to insult me into ‘submission’.

How can we know the answers if we’re too scared (of what people will think of us) to ask the questions?

…but why shouldn’t I care?

One of the questions that have always been directed at me in my journey as an activist is, “why do you care?” and the question is always followed by a rebuke, “you too emotional. You mustn’t be so emotional.” can we insist on ignoring the persistent and ever-growing cries of a world in crisis?

I have discovered that being emotionally involved in the work I do is seen as huge flaw and sometimes I get dismissed on the basis of having shown too much emotion; in fact I suspect that some people regard me as being highly unstable.

At times the way they say “you’re too emotional” seems to imply that my mental faculties are short-circuited by the strong feelings I attach to what I do.

When I write about children who’ve been molested, women who’ve been betrayed, girls who’ve been violated or the myriad of unjust events that transpire in our society; I sometimes get back-handed compliments that go something like: “you write so well. Those were some powerful words. It was really moving and touching. So I guess you were also abused as a child because from the way you put it; I could tell that this person is really speaking from experience.”

I wonder why people suppose that things matter only when they affect them and what doesn’t affect them does not matter.

I don’t need to be raped, or brutalized, or violated, or treated unfairly for me denounce the act – to me it is enough that there has been an injustice; that someone somewhere has suffered. To me it is enough that there is someone – human like me – who is in pain, who needs help, who needs to heard and whose pain was undeserved.

I grew up with a very keen sense of justice; it is something deeply ingrained me – like someone with a fine-tuned ear for music can pick out a discord no one else hears – I pick out the subtle nuances of injustice that some people remain oblivious to.

"there are many things in life that will catch your eye - but only a few will catch your heart: pursue them!

So if something is not fair – I can’t just shut up about it just because it doesn’t directly affect, involve or impact on me.

I mean why shouldn’t I care?

I have girlfriends who have a fit every time a favorite outfit gets ruined, I have pals who get so torn when they break a manicured nail or when a trusted hair dresser spoils a good weave by failing to get it right.

I have friends who get so traumatized when their favorite soccer team loses, they have fits when their car gets a tiny dent or scratch and they can have a near death experience their favorite shirt gets scorched by an iron or whatever.

They care about these things but I care about people – women in particular and I have a very special spot for children too.

I care about the condition of people’s lives; I care about justice and about equality. I care about empowerment and education. I care about development, health and climate change. I care about the economy, politics and our history. I care about the total sum of experiences that define us and I care about the choices that are availed to us as people and I care also about the choices that we are denied.

Why shouldn’t I care?

Recently when I had to make a presentation at the UN’s 55th CSW; the Moremi Fellow chairing the session remarked on the rest of us MILEAD Fellows saying, “the women you are about to hear from have a passion for their work that has bridged the gap between doing and being. They are so passionate that activism is not something they do – it is something (one of many things) that they are.”

Yes, I get emotional. I don’t quantify how I feel about the plight of humanity so I can never tell whether I get “too” emotional about elevating the status of women. All I know is that I can never be indifferent, cool, detached, aloof and nonchalant.

I can only be myself – passionate, involved, committed, single-minded and sometimes militant in my pursuit for the realization of social justice for women and for other vulnerable social groups that have been pushed to the margins.

...its not enough to have compassion - you have to act!

If people can obsess over soccer to the point of pouring billions into the sport – surely I can have the lee-way to obsess about a better a world for girls and women to the point of devoting my life towards that cause.

If people can get so worked up about their appearances and spends fortunes on hair, nails, make up, accessories and clothing to the point of grieving inconsolably when any of these ‘necessities’ are compromised – surely I can be allowed the luxury to use every platform and opportunity availed to me to share the stories of society’s victims and call for justice to prevail.

So what if they’re not related to me? So what if I’ve never been in their situation? So what if they never asked me to speak on their behalf? And so what if I have never met them or known them personally?

All I know is that wherever there is a fight for justice – that is where I belong. I am a crusader – I do care.
Some people care about things; well I just care about people more than I care about things.
Why shouldn’t I care?

Parting shot: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue” – Marcus Tullius Cicero