To say the “Zimbabwe question” is a divisive issue is both a cliché and an understatement.
The political, economic and social paths the country has trod over the past decade has been so well-documented – and thoroughly misrepresented in many cases – that it serves no purpose to rehash that history here.
What is glaring, though, in many discussions about the “Zimbabwe question”, the historical context is rarely put into proper perspective.
Perhaps people are tired of walking down that road again.
But can we really afford to ignore our history? At what point can a country say the past no longer matters and we are new creatures, born-again without a past and with only a here and now?
Is there a cut-off point in the past-present-future trajectory of nation-states, more so those who had more than just a brush with colonialism?
A colleague, who we shall simply refer to as Major Chirenda, recently summed up the continuum that defines us as a people very succinctly.
Before relating what he said, maybe I should just point out that Major Chirenda is no politician. He is also neither a historian, a social scientist nor belong to any one of those professions that often assign themselves the prerogative of deconstructing such issues for us lesser mortals.
He is simply a Zimbabwean who feels passionately about where his country has come from, where it is, and where it is headed.
Confronted by another colleague during a discussion on this clichéd “Zimbabwe question” – a colleague who strongly feels Africa doth complain and protest too much about past colonial wrongs – Major Chirenda gave the kind of response we often fail to give as we get caught up in trying to show how much we know.
“I am deprived of my future by my history.”
That’s it. Nine simple words encapsulating the “Zimbabwe question”.
I am tempted to think Major Chirenda could have been a poet.
So does another gent who was involved in this discussion. (His take on the matter after Major Chirenda’s concise contribution was, “Why do we forget yesterday because we slept through the night?”)
Our future, as is our present, is determined by our history.
And this is why it is important to start shaping a new history today.
By taking land from the scions of colonial settlers, Zimbabwe is merely responding to its history.
But it is also shaping a new history for future generations, for the children who shall inherit this Earth after our bones have been scattered by winds we know nothing of.
By implementing the empowerment regulations, the people of Zimbabwe are again both responding to history and writing a new history.
In all these things, fear should not rule the hearts of the people of this great land.
Fear and lack of confidence in our own abilities are colonialism’s biggest disservices to the people of Africa.
It should be eradicated by the knowledge that we built the Great Pyramid of Giza while those who would later learn to make guns (what a service to humanity, what a way to expend creative energy!) to colonise the Earth were living in caves.
The roots of fear should be pulled out by the awareness that we discovered Sirius B when Europe was calling Galileo a heretic for proposing that the Earth orbited the sun and not vice versa.
Our lack of confidence should be expunged by consciousness to the fact that inoculation was practised in Africa before Louis Pasteur had even heard of smallpox.
Today, as Zimbabwe celebrates 32 years of independence from colonial bondage, it must forge ahead with this lack of fear and self-belief; that it can be anything that it wants to be.
It is this writing of a new history that will ensure our children – and Major Chirenda’s – never again have to look forward to a future that is anaemically blighted by a colonial past.
Zimbabwe, and all of Africa, must never forget that there is a dual history: we conquered and we were conquered.
The time has come to conquer again, and for that we can all look to the future without fear or lack of confidence, but with hope.