TENDAI RUBEN MBOFANA - THE UN-OPPRESSED MIND!
Mnangagwa Regime Perpetuating the Normalization of Oppression!
We frequently drove past the outskirts of the low density suburb of Redcliff – on our way either to or from the nearby high density ‘township’ of Torwood, where we resided. Zimbabwe President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Nonetheless, there was something that I always found curious if not disturbing.
Why was it that only white people stayed in Redcliff suburb whilst we (blacks) were packed in Torwood?
That is when my father, whose political consciousness was exceptional, explained the racial injustices of the colonial era.
However, there was something else I had problems understanding.
Why did the people, particularly the segregated black majority, appear content with this clearly oppressive situation? We all went about our daily business as if there was absolutely nothing untoward and sinister about being separated purely on the basis of skin colour. We somehow seemed to have accepted this skewed and unfair setup.
Of course, there was a liberation struggle taking place during that time – but let us be brutally frank, most of us in towns never exhibited much anger against the system.
In fact, there was never a shortage of those of us who shamefully attempted to rationalize why whites and blacks lived apart, attended different schools, and even shopped at separate outlets. In all these cases, the white population always had the better deal – with more opulent suburbs and spacious houses, more sophisticated and equipped schools, as well as attractive upmarket shopping centers. This was dismissed, by some amongst the black folk, simply with a: because there are white.
That was accepted by many as a satisfactory enough reason.
In other words, over the course of eight decades of colonialism, oppression had become inculcated as ‘normal’ in the minds of the black population. Nevertheless, the advent of independence in 1980 should have brought with it a deliberate policy by the new administration to re-educate and re-align the citizenry’s mindsets. It was imperative for the population to be conditioned to stop accepting segregation, oppression, and mediocrity especially from their government. Zimbabweans needed to appreciate how important they were and that they deserved nothing but the best this great nation had to offer.
They had to finally understand that they were not second-class citizens.
Yet, this never happened.
In fact, it appears as though our new leaders had every desire to perpetuate this mindset – in which the population found absolutely nothing wrong or deplorable about being treated as inferior citizens in their own country. This was because the post-colonial establishment had absolutely no intentions whatsoever in addressing the decades-long repression and marginalization of the majority. What occurred in 1980 was, in actual fact, merely a replacement of one group of oppressors with another – the only thing changing being the skin colour.
These thoughts were reignited in my mind this morning as I read a statement ostensibly published by the ruling ZANU PF party – whereby they bragged about drilling boreholes across Zimbabwe.
Wow, so having a population still reliant on communal boreholes in this day and age – some 43 years after colonialism – is supposed to be a thing of pride, regarded as a phenomenal achievement! It is actually quite ridiculous whenever I pass by a borehole – along the road to my home in the low density suburb of Redcliff – which has a huge portrait of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. Surely, in a town that once prided itself as ‘Little London’ – due to its beauty, commendable development, and upmarket nature – there is everything shameful when it has now been transformed into a glorified rural village.
This is on account of the small town having not had any potable water flowing in residents’ homes for the past three years.
So, why would Mnangagwa and ZANU PF find the drilling of a communal borehole such a massive feat – which actually deserves a huge billboard to advertise this fact? It is akin to a father who places an advertisement in a newspaper boasting that he had finally bought his son a (secondhand) shirt – in spite of him (the son) not having had any decent clothes for years. We have witnessed, with astonishment, this unsettling trend play out in rural areas – where villagers were expected to celebrate being handed free agricultural inputs and even food aid.
What manner of madness it that?
After 43 years of independence why would any one – regardless of which part of Zimbabwe they reside – be in need of any form of handouts? In a country endowed with some of the world’s most sought-after natural resources, should we not now be experiencing world-class city-like life even in the most remote rural areas? Are our rural folk, by now, not supposed to be commercial farmers, owning productive fertile well-equipped (with irrigation facilities) land that enabled them to enjoy a high standard of living?
- Remember we are talking of a country with the largest reserves of lithium in Africa, the second platinum deposits in the world, the seventh largest producer of diamonds, and the second largest gold reserves per square kilometer.
- This is not to mention black granite, chrome, nickel, copper, asbestos, silver, and any others.
Why then are our schools – both rural and urban – not some of the most advanced in the world? Should each and every household in the country – no matter where it is located – not be having access to reliable, consistent and affordable water and electricity? So, why do we celebrate when a measly poorly-equipped classroom block is constructed – portraying this as major development?
- Why do we run out of words of praise for Mnangagwa when the government finally builds a clinic in an area where villagers, ever since independence, have had to walk for over 20 kilometers to the nearest health care center?
- What is there to celebrate when the government borrows money to build a pathetic two power generation units – in a country still dependent on antiquated machinery which has long passed its operational limits?
- Zimbabwe is now notorious for its incessant power outages – which can span over ten hours a day.
- Right now, as I write this article, we have no electricity.
In fact, why are Zimbabweans still ranked amongst the poorest people on the planet – with 47 percent classified as living in extreme poverty. In the midst of all this suffering, we witness (on a daily basis) those in power or aligned to them living the life of the rich and famous – seemingly with no limit to their finances and opulence. They can build grandiose mansions, drive the most expensive cars, fly wherever they want in the world, host some of the most exquisite shindigs – all this, unashamedly flaunted for the poor to see and admire.
In all this, the source of their wealth is never clear.
Of course, nothing remains hidden forever – as the extent of their corruption and looting of national resources eventually becomes known to the citizenry. How is the country expected to develop when we are losing over US$3 billion every year to the smuggling of our minerals, illicit financial transactions, and other corrupt activities? How then is that different from when I was still a five or six-year-old boy – as we drove past those plush spacious houses of Redcliff on our way to the poor crammed Torwood? There is something clearly wrong with this picture – yet we have those who see nothing amiss.
- They even support and defend this outright discrimination and marginalization of the majority in Zimbabwe.
- Everything for them is great and the country is headed in the right direction.
- At times, I feel these were the same people during the colonial days who would rationalize our oppression.
- For them, those in power have every right to be well-off whilst the rest of us survive on the crumbs from the tables of the powerful.
These ‘supporters’ do not care whether they are also suffering. As in the past, where they would say, ‘they deserve a better life because they are white’ – today it is: they deserve the good life because they are ‘shefus’. It goes to show that the oppression mentality of the colonial era still reigns supreme today
– this time, advanced and promoted by our own black rulers.