Letter from America:with KENNETH MUFUKA
As we pass from the year 2020, let us establish some home-grown truths about ourselves as Zimbabweans.
While I will challenge our readers to this debate, on penalty of paying a fine of a goat if the reader loses his bet, I have set about proper safeguards against losing my shirt as I previously did in the Donald Trump election of November 3, 2020.
The challenge is this. It is obvious to me, and I hope to all reasonable men (and women) that when God made the world, he made Zimbabwe last, and He saw that it was good. I have yet to meet a single Diasporan who does not wish to return to our beloved Zimbabwe. But there is more to it.
Christmas is associated with thanksgiving and renewal with the New Year. As a people, I can only remind our readers how narrowly we escaped being driven across the Zambezi River when colonialists realised how God had favoured us with such a beautiful piece of country.
Indeed Zimbabwe was so beautiful that when Lord Selbourne was told by Cecil Rhodes (1893) about the Nyangani-Bvumba range and its trout-filled fresh mountain streams and the area where wheat, apples and deciduous fruits could flourish, indeed even as the temperate climate popular and pine trees, he declared the area to be New Scotland, unfit for native habitation.
Indeed, evidence abounds that the clearance of natives from Zimbabwe became the guiding theme of colonialism. The Rhodesian writer Doris Lessing writes that as early as 1923, the native commissioner in Chikanga country (below Mutare range) should not be allowed to live in such fertile red soils
When Sir Stephen Cortauld moved to Rhodesia in 1951, he was enthralled by the beauty of the wilderness in La Rochelle, a botanic garden he created among the freshwater streams of Mutasa country. Though of a liberal bent, the mindset was the same. Rhodesia was too beautiful to be left to wild Africans.
In 1955, the great conservationist, Major Robert McIllwaine, reported over 15 000 flora belonging to 57 species, including the faclo naumanni and egretta (Egyptian falcon and African eagle).
The discovery of such wealth in flora and fauna took the scientific world by storm and was followed by attempts to clear Tangwena and Saunyama natives from such a god-given area. On November 4, 1970, the Mutare Post reported that Chief Tangwena had refused to give way for white settlement.
“Today, 1 000 Tangwena are reported to have gone into the mountains, and are living like baboons,” the Post reported.
My heart is in Zimbabwe
Though I have lived three lives, I find no people exemplifying a happy countenance as are Zimbabweans.
Among the people of Zimbabwe, God set aside a special race, non-warlike, peaceful and the most loving tribe, the people of the rain bird, the Hungwe. I will add another challenge.
These people of the Rain bird, according to my three tutors, the great Gamaliel himself Aeneas Chigwedere, Aaron Hodzi and Dr Solomon Mutsvairo, are associated with rain-making rituals and the preservation of the earth.
The great anthropologist, Professor Clyde Mitchell, referred to them as earth priests. As such, King Mzilikazi and Lobengula recognised them as keepers of the earth’s secrets and offered protection. But the issue here is that the most beautiful girls among the Bantu are found in this tribe, and that having swallowed special river stones (hungurubwe), they are almost ageless in their beauty and longevity.
The conversations among them are most hilarious during Christmas and the New Year. My mother has a caustic tongue. She calls amainini (young mother): “Ko zvmasimbirira kuchena hatichadya here pamba pano?” (untranslatable). Indeed my young mothers look dressed to kill. But my mother’s scolding is met with indifference and laughter. Such is the happy countenance among the people of the Rain bird.
The foolish politicians
While Zimbabwe is blessed with the most gifted people upon the face of the earth, and an earth that is so productive Cecil Rhodes had it in his plan to drive us across the Zambezi, it has also been cursed with the most foolish politicians.
When I hosted the Swedish ambassador at Great Zimbabwe in 1982, he told me that Zimbabwe has the most educated cabinet in the world. Well over half of them held doctorates in something. The stage, all things being equal, should have been set for prosperity and unparalleled success.
The circus of the insane just concluded in the name of the MDC-T is a case in point. The main issue, in their deliberations is the complete absence of common sense and wisdom.
The MDC-T hierarchy, should have entered into a compact, a priori, that after free and fair elections, the winner would embrace the losers in a cabinet of opposites. That was not done. Having failed to do that, all their dirty linen was displayed to the public.
The issue here is procedure, and the failure of which seems to curse every discourse in the country. Take, for example, the fact that Harare City Council demolishes 500 houses. Again, if the city fathers had, a priori, consulted the inhabitants, they would have come to some resolution as to how to proceed without leaving women and children in the rain.
There is another example of the foolishness caused by lack of procedure. Government impounds 20 000 kombis. Kombi drivers do not make huge profits. Very often they seek financial support for repairs from Diaspora relatives. The question arises: Where are these kombis stored? Will government charge storage fees? Will the kombis work after being left unprotected for several months?
Kombi drivers are Zimbabwean citizens. They are not foreigners. They should be consulted. If they had been consulted, they would have informed government that Chinese Fusion buses are too delicate for Zimbabwean pothole-filled roads. The old AVM and Tigers had a lift gait enough to survive gravel roads.
Likewise, the Finance minister, who is supposed to be a professor of something, says the Zimbabwe dollar is official currency. My carpenter has just charged me U$$30 to repair my roof. Zesa is now charging electricity in US dollars. Virtually all activities at Victoria Falls are carried out in US dollars. Again, if the minister had consulted, a priori, a compromise would have been found.
My suggestion is that it is not that the country is unfit for natives; Zimbabwe cannot long suffer native politicians who wear nyembes even on their behinds, but lack common sense.
We pray that 2021 will bring some new ideas.
l Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. His books can be found at INNOV bookshops in Zimbabwe and at kenmufukabooks in the wider world. He can be reached at email@example.com