We have repeatedly warned that Mthwakazi cannot continue to surrender the protection of its norms, values and interests to other communities if we are to attain true liberty. We owe it to ourselves to deconstruct the unhelpful myths that seek to buttress the notion of our inferiority that has been propagated by the Shona ethnic leadership and maintained through systems and institutions whose objective has been to manage, and not empower, us throughout Zimbabwe’s independence.
A pro-Mthwakazi focus is a rights issue and not a tribal issue. If we are to rebuild, realign our politics and move forward together as a nation, we need to get back to basics, reconnect with our essential values. Let us start appreciating our own efforts and respecting ourselves for us to develop self-discipline. Unity is key, let us submerge and overcome our differences to work together every step of the way; good individuals will achieve a lot more when they commit their efforts to working as part of a committed group.
This is no project fear but a dawning reality, self-loathing will destroy us; in an identity-based politics, we cannot cut ourselves adrift from our culture, norms and values and expect others to shoulder the responsibility of respecting us. While for most societies there is something inherently fascinating about seeing themselves or places they know in a piece of art – be that in a film, or a photograph, or a painting, Matabeleland quite literally cringes to see a picture of herself.
For some strange reasons, thanks to the education system, we seem to hate the sight of socio-political groups that openly identify, embrace and promote us as a separate nation and demand for our unique voice to be heard. It would be naïve to ignore the impact of the education system on our Worldview and by translation our perception of ourselves.
We are neither authors of our history nor what we learn in formal institutions nor setters of standards; we are mere graduates of an education system that promotes Mashonaland norms and values. Our learned meet the needs of Mashonaland authorities, not ours. It is therefore unsurprising that we often read posts from learned but ill-educated Matabeles and follow social media discussions in which these people unjustifiably tear down Matabeleland focused groups that dare point at the incompatibility of policies of mainstream political parties in Zimbabwe and their irrelevance to Matabeleland.
What is exactly wrong with Matabeleland people choosing to use democracy to reconsider their political investment and making an informed and conscious decision to refrain from extending their engagement with certain aspects of Zimbabwean politics? If we cannot see our image and our footprint in Zimbabwean politics, its systems and institutions, persisting with it is self-defeating.
Despite all the evidence that points to the fact that ethnic Shona dominated governments take no interest in our interests but in managing us for Mashonaland, we continue to embrace them and their imposed systems and institutions.
Is it not troubling that Mthwakazi focused socio-political organisations have endured more verbal abuse from within Mthwakazi than outside it? Our people are the first to call their own tribalists for objectively pointing at overt inequities perpetuated by Harare. We have been taught that embracing pro-Mthwakazi views is evidence of our lack of formal education and a mark of poor social intelligence while rejecting ideas from Harare is short-sighted tribalism. Is rejecting oneself education and growth? Is allowing oneself the misfortune of being exploited tolerance or stupidity?
Conformity is not always a good socio-political platform and practice; it sets in motion that horrid moment in life where we ignore how we feel simply for acceptance. The reality is that within the Zimbabwean system we are never accepted but accommodated and will be readily shifted positions when it suits our managers; the most frightening bit is that we are never in control of our lives.
We cannot get rid of the aspects that make us who we are and be happy. Let us confront the weak aspects of our nation with honesty, take responsibility and stop apportioning blame on everybody else. Our willingness to wrestle with those elements of our lives keeping us down will lead to our rise. We welcome the enlightenment from our learned brothers and sisters, but they too must be willing to transform and put their academic knowledge to usable education that would help advance our communities.