We will always pride ourselves in being a tolerant nation that fully embraces multi-ethnicity, multiculturalism and difference. We have never been threatened by difference, we have always understood the fact that difference is not inequality. What unites and makes us a truly great nation is the recognition of the reality that all tribes and all cultures are distinct and individual, and we fully embrace that.
No organisation should be turned into a force for tribalism within our political space, not in the name of Mthwakazi. Organisations, groups and individuals who focus and respond not to the norms and values of Mthwakazi but merely focus and react to the socio-political circumstances created by ZANU PF and the MDC policies unwittingly become trapped into the mentality of tribalism and drift away from the founding philosophy of our forefathers. Mzilikazi saw value in all people and tribes, he respected all local customs.
We demand of our formations high operational standards and tribalism falls short of our expectations. Those formations targeting and calling for the exclusion of ethnic Shona people from Mthwakazi do so out of subjectivity not objectivity, hatred not reason, haste not patience, anger not love. Mthwakazi, like many states, is a nation of migrants; intermarriages were not and are not uncommon.
Ever thought what it would mean to families to expel from Mthwakazi some of their members simply based on their last names in a society where the patrilineal custom is the normative? Children’s last names are taken from their father. Where would be the justice in expelling a child begotten by a Mthwakazi daughter married to an ethnic Shona man yet retaining a child begotten by a Mthwakazi son and an ethnic Shona woman? Are men and women not equal in Mthwakazi?
Diversity created Mthwakazi, even back then in the 19th Century, Mzilikazi was already ahead of the ZANU PF’s 1979 Grand Plan; he did not believe unity could be built by denying some social groups of their identity. Yes, his social classification was not perfect but it is revealing that he had no desire for people to be the same, he did not send the misleading message that people should see everyone as the same. He recognised the reality that people were not the same but were all different. The 19th Century Mthwakazi saw people learn to acknowledge these differences, respect these differences, learn from and about these differences, and grow in and with these differences.
Our generation must not seek to undo Mzilikazi and Lobengula’s nation building exercise without reason; the base was good, what it would require is modernisation and improving. Constructive criticism of bad policies such as tribalism is welcome and indeed required to promote growth in the region but attempts to ban some social groups from being part of Mthwakazi is not improvement. We have suffered immeasurably in the tribally inclined politics anchored by ZANU PF and ably supported by the MDC-T, we have no desire to mimic the policy; we reject tribalism for all that it stands for.
In today’s Mthwakazi, we all have a responsibility as we fight for our freedom from a tribally divisive Zimbabwean politics; our task is to maintain our dignity and fight responsibly to preserve the very base of our nation – diversity. We forget not that our greatness lies in our desire to allow, appreciate, and honour the uniqueness, and freedom of every tribe, every cultural group and race to sing the song of their heart.
We have no justification to start tolerating intolerance. Has it ever occurred to any of you that numerous tribes within Mthwakazi borders all tuned to the same principles are automatically tuned to each other? We are a united nation by being tuned onto the principles of diversity, not to each other, but to a political standard to which each one must individually express themselves to the fullest to produce cultural richness that creates a harmonious Mthwakazi melody.
Ignorance and prejudice are a haven for propaganda, educating the population will be essential to deprive operational space to preying opportunists. For clarity, we are not fighting ordinary ethnic Shona people, but systems and institutions established by the ethnic Shona leadership in ZANU PF and modified by MDC-T most of which are stereotypes conveniently turned into policy that withdraws socioeconomic, political and physical security from Mthwakazi communities yet do not protect the interests of an average Shona person.
As we move forward, we want to remind everyone that Mthwakazi is made up of several tribes who have always been and must be free to exercise their culture and customs; it would be important for all to participate in the shaping of our politics and not let a loud few determine the direction of our political path, especially if that path undermines our core values. We do not want to establish unity by getting rid of difference within our political space, that makes for poor political harmony and will diminish interest in the project.