The main feature and constant reality of Zimbabwean independence has been its objective absence in Mthwakazi and Mthwakazi’s socio-political space being systematically altered. Shonawashing is the term I will use to call the deliberate and sustained socio-political practice of replacing Mthwakazi people, norms and values with Shona alternatives.
Zimbabwean independence, its systems and institutions are notorious for their universal disrespect of Mthwakazi norms and values, and the reduction of Mthwakazians to second-tier citizens within the merged Zimbabwe political boundary. This is a Zimbabwean system I refer to as Shonawashing, a comprehensive system that presides over the systemic elimination of everything Mthwakazi and the systemic introduction and imposition of everything ethnic Shona within Mthwakazi and beyond.
Shonawashing presents in various (subtle, overt and even aggressive) forms, from a compelling need for Mthwakazi people to be able to learn the Shona language to enable them to take instructions from their imposed ethnic Shona managers to reading poorly constructed sentences and wrongly spelt street names, a recent case of an isiNdebele formative years study guide written by ethnic Shona people being an excellent example. Spellings such as ‘indleve’ instead of ‘indlebe’ among other spelling and grammatical mutilation incidents creeping not only into the day-to-day language usage but also into the formal education system.
How we continue to tolerate the Shonawashing is bewildering and our greatest failure to date; we need to be cautious, for the line between tolerance and stupidity is very thin. At this point we need to take control, stop accepting ZANU PF definitions of us and descriptions of our experiences, and we must stop ZANU PF setting rules through which we are set free from oppression or we will forever be accessories in the cruelty and crime happening in our land. There is limit to how much hurt, disappointment and oppression we can take; Mthwakazi must stand up against Zimbabwean systemic abuse now.
For clarity, we have no problem with immigration and certainly do not object to socio-cultural diversity, but the calculated elimination of our systems, norms and values is a socio-political travesty. Before us, the Mthwakazi socio-political space is being systematically eroded and replaced by Shona ways, creed and law through which we cannot see ourselves; we have neither power nor influence nor understanding of the source of the law governing us. We are not only confused and stupefied by the law but belittled by the expectation not to question its authority over us and our offspring.
This however, is no time to complain but time for Mthwakazi nationals to come together and from the bottom of our hearts and the height of our reasoning say, ‘NO’ to submitting to all oppression, no matter what the source is. We are moving from failure to success, from fear to confidence, from weakness to strength, from doubt to confidence, from the valleys to the mountain top, from oppression to freedom, from the face of defeat to victory and from mourning to celebration. The face of Mthwakazi politics is to change, and we must be part of that change as facilitators and not victims of it.
It is essential that we choose not to respond to Zimbabwean systems but to our needs; we are not reactionary politicians, we will not permit any appetite for such politics to get in the way of objective politics and progress, and we intend not to adopt such an approach. We are not just rejecting politics of Zimbabwe because we yearn for a return to a Mthwakazi monarchy; it is neither tribalism nor recklessness influencing our decisions to disconnect from the Zimbabwean politics and systems but an objective, reasoned and justified decision that moves us forward.
The fact remains that the primary goal for Zimbabwean politics is to protect ethnic Shona people’s interests before any other population group is hounded and politically humiliated. It is for that reason that some of us have not bought into the MDC alliance idea; alliances only work when they reflect shared reality and interests. We are just not convinced that allowing ethnic Shona culture based Zimbabwean systems to continue to set rules for us by which we can be empowered is the route to take us forward.
Shonawashing of Mthwakazi is wrong. Rule by majority must not be conflated with majority tyranny; the majority have no right to take away the rights of a minority; this is contraindicated in democracy where the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by the majority.