Identity remains a critical issue in human social existence; without a sense of identity, the sense of living is lost. The unitary Zimbabwe state does not appreciate difference; it continues to actively pursue an enforced melting pot ideal while suppressing all consideration of the ‘salad bowl’ multicultural concept. No human being should feel pressured to express themselves in a culture other than their own; communities should be able to maintain their identity.
We are not water drops that lose their identity on joining the ocean; we are human beings with the ability to maintain our identity and should be able to do so irrespective of who we happen to share the social space with. As nationals of Mthwakazi, we want to experience (without interruption) our identity as beings of worth and dignity. That however, does not come by folding arms and crossing legs waiting for others to tell us who and what we are.
Mthwakazi must refuse to be intimidated, we must be only two things: who and what we want to be! We have our own unique identity that we must reserve the right to maintain. Zimbabwean authorities and their institutions have no respect for Matabeleland nationals and their identity. Institutions often ignore the apparent differences between Mashonaland and Matabeleland and thus treat different communities the same; Zimbabwean authorities deliberately deny Mthwakazi the right to develop and maintain her different identity.
There is no one organisation that can completely protect the Mthwakazi identity; individuals need to be wary of the Harare manipulation so that they can fight their own little battles wherever they are in the region. An awareness of our past is essential if we are to re-establish our personality and our dignity as Mthwakazians tomorrow.
If Matabeleland nationals desire to fly, they need to let go of all the organisations and institutions holding them down. Stop serving ZANU PF, stop serving the MDC and stop dreaming of a fair unitary Zimbabwe. This is the opportunity for us to unfold our own myth and not to be waiting for others to define us and our communities using descriptors based on their own socio-cultural biases. If Matabeleland does not act now, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that in about 50 years Shona will be the first choice language in all urban settlements and most rural settlements of Matabeleland among teenagers and young adults.
Without a sense of identity, the sense of living is lost. Unpleasant as it may sound, without serious interventions to promote and maintain the Mthwakazi identity Shona language and cultural etiquette will, in the next 50 years, be central in all official and business transactions after English. We cannot continue to entrust everyone else but ourselves with the responsibility of defining who and what we want to be. We need to work together as the salad bowl of Matabeleland to ensure each of the different population groups in the region are represented and their identity is maintained.
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