What lessons has Matabeleland taken from the Gukurahundi atrocities?

One constant and perhaps most significant lesson Matabeleland has taken from the Gukurahundi experience is that we have learnt precious little from it. We are still slaves to fear. Understandably, many of us are still seething with anger in response to ZANU PF inflicted atrocities in the region hence most, certainly not all, of our political ideals are driven by emotions than reason.

How we respond to Gukurahundi atrocities now will determine whether we start to command the attention of the world or we put the world off. Let me make it absolutely clear now that emotions are too unstable to be trusted with making safe and sustainable political decisions; we need good education to learn how and not what to think, it is only then that we will learn to critic ourselves and our systems; we will know that internal discrimination remains a significant but damaging reality of our politics; we should not take that for granted. This is a scenario that needs to change immediately; we cannot afford to allow fear to determine our long-term political decisions; certainly we should not continue being slaves to the fear of ZANU PF atrocities.

Only when we cease being slaves of fear will we begin to design, adopt and implement political measures that address our needs. From now on we should steer away from ZANU PF influenced thought processes, pack away all the fear we still retain of ZANU PF’s ways. For a while we have learned that ZANU PF policies have no role to play in solving Matabeleland challenges hence our political ideologies should not primarily be in response to fears about ZANU PF but be inspired by the desire to meet the needs of Matabeleland citizens.

Let us be clear about one specific political position, our challenges will not be addressed by reverse ethnic discrimination after all our progress will not be measured on how many ethnic Shona people we have successfully excluded from the Matabeleland political space but on how successful we have been in building a society that is safe for diversity. Human value must never be attached to race, religion, ethnicity or gender; that is bigotry and a lesson we should have learned to avoid by now.

Gukurahundi is not about our past but our destiny; the heart-wrenching experience will never be undone, we look at it and frequently remind our people about it not because we want to live in the past but to make sure it never happens under our watch again; it must not be lived again. I do not believe in advancing the false and dangerous concept of tribal superiority but in promoting individual and community empowerment based on the perceived equality of all human kind. In Matabeleland we need to create an open political market that would allow a free flow of ideas, permit all citizens to confidently, freely and critically appraise the systems in place without fear of state reprisals.

Let us ensure that the history we are a by-product of right now motivates us into creating a very different Matabeleland. We have confidence and pride in our ability to distance ourselves from the emotionally dysfunctional Zimbabwe; unfortunate as it is, Matabeleland as we experience it today is a region enveloped in bigoted systems that allocate opportunities to individuals and communities according to their social features not ability. This, now, is our opportunity to shine; this is our chance to not only create a great history but to ensure history is kind to us. This is the time we chose our interviewees for our historical narrative and wrote our own history in the language of our choice!

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