Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Being Zimbabwean: From Bondage To Slavery

Freeman Chari:

I have stayed in foreign lands for some time now. I have seen Zimbabweans being killed, I have seen them being segregated and I have seen them living worse than dogs. Back home I have seen my people degenerating into thieves, fraudsters and murderers; our once righteous women turning into nocturnal body-sellers. Out of pain, I decided to undertake a dialectical journey to the core of our existence; to explore what it means to be Zimbabwean, what it should mean and why it means what it means right now to be a Zimbabwean. This could be the works of a troubled mind but my hope is that someone would find sense out of it.

Sometimes I sit wondering why some people behave the way they do. I wonder why Robert Mugabe is that arrogant, why General Zvinavashe agreed to pronounce that infamous statement on the eve of the 2002 Presidential elections, why Jonathan Moyo keeps vacillating like a pendulum and why Morgan Tsvangirai overruled a democratic consensus that later led to the split of MDC. Most of the times, I end up indifferently concluding that maybe that’s how human beings behave. This time I decided to interrogate the source of these behaviors even deeper without giving myself a chance to resign.
The first question that I asked myself was; “what makes a man a man?” Apart from the physical how can we differentiate between a man and a dog? This question came about because of some things that we have seen happening in Zimbabwe that we would normally say; they are not fit to be done by human beings but by dogs or savages. So what is it that makes a man a man and a dog a dog?
There are certain characteristics that are common between a man and a dog which compel us to conclude that a man is primarily an animal. They both desire food, water, shelter and other basic needs. They both have the five scientific senses. They are both calculative- a baboon may bury wild fruits in sand to facilitate ripening just like a human being. Most importantly, they both act instinctively in the face of danger to avoid death. But still a baboon is a baboon and a man is a man- why?
Somebody argued that a man is a man because he can differentiate between good and bad. Again we ask; is good universal to all men? Why is polygamy good in some societies but bad in some? Who defines good? If we can follow the dictates of society on good and bad can’t that be said of a dog that is conditioned to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to its master?
However, even if good or bad is not universal to all men the concept of goodness and badness is common across all people. But even this concept derives from a deeper intrinsic awareness in man which is I prefer to call the consciousness of value. It is therefore arguable that apart from the physical and the genetic make-up, human beings also share a common characteristic- attaching value to nature.
Notwithstanding the fact that animals also attach value to things out of instinct, it is only man who has the ability to attach value and defend it on worthless material and on non-material things. For example, man fight to defend religion, they fight to defend their rights because they place value unto these things and they are willing to risk death for things that are intangible.

Man in as much as he places value on other things also places value upon himself. He believes that he is worth a certain value. This is what is called self-worth. The product of this self-evaluation is called dignity. Because man is naturally a social being, that is he desires to be desired by other man. He expects other man to evaluate his worth by other man, he expects other man to evaluate his worth to its real value. When they undervalue him, he gets angry and when the evaluate him to his real worth he feels pride. This desire to be recognized by other man, is the one that drives man to behave in ways that defy natural animal instinct.
Let us look at Zimbabwe. On one hand we have a ruling class that is unwilling to recognize other ordinary Zimbabweans as people amongst other people, on the other we have a people that is yearning for such recognition. This ruling class which is mainly ZANU PF , behaves in a manner that seeks to undo history.
I say ZANU PF is seeking to undo history because it is taking the human philosophical function back to the primitive state when man , although social beings, interacted with each other violently. A period in history when man’s worth was evaluated on how much one was willing to risk death for pure prestige. Remember Alexander or Chaka .
Unfortunately, other Zimbabweans are unwilling to engage ZANU PF in such a primitive manner which to some may appear as cowardice. In circumstances, where one part is willing to engage in violence and another is unwilling there is greater possibility that their relationship terminates in lordship and bondage in which as is in Zimbabwe, ZANU PF gains the recognition of being the master and everybody else looses the dignity of being a man and becomes a slave.
But is the unwillingness of Zimbabweans to engage in violence a symbol of cowardice? The answer could be both YES and NO.
YES in that, cowardice itself begins when a man fails to overcome the fear of death and let his animal instinct of self-preservation override the human characteristic of seeking recognition. So out of cowardice, Zimbabweans decided to forfeit their worth for a chance to live.
NO in that, a human being is also calculative and can temporarily forgo his human desires for a particular reason. For example a man may choose not to eat even if he is hungry because he is on hunger-strike. So there could be a reason why Zimbabweans chose to forfeit their worth. One of which could be that they know that most of the primitive members of ZANU PF are close to death due to aging. From their calculations, they can do without dignity for a few years until this generation is wiped out. They can derive hope from the fact that a number of younger ZANU PF members have been attracted to the idea of change like Simba Makoni, Daniel Shumba, Walter Mzembi and others.
What is certain in Zimbabwe however is that the ZANU PF regime is not evaluating its people’s worth justly. Zimbabweans are conscious of this, unfortunately; as in all dictatorships, two groups of slaves arise. One that feels unjustly evaluated and is willing to regain its dignity and another that knows and feels theindignation but is content to live like that as long as they are alive....more

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