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Zimbabwean identity doesn’t make us less Mthwakazi

One of the greatest tragedies of Mthwakazi in the last 4 decades has been the steady erosion of our own sense of self while accepting the version of us that is expected by Mashonaland. We have become strangers in our own space. Over a century ago Mzilikazi and his subjects moved north from South Africa; the space we occupied then and now became our home, and so it shall be.

A sense of helplessness, hopelessness and some form of defence mechanism has led to people opting to invest in ignorance to promote the illusion that we are not Zimbabweans. Never open doors to subjugation, bear in mind, if you are a guest your host determines the limits of your comfort.

The Zimbabwean identity may not be the truth we want to hear or accept but bravery is the choice to accept reality, even when it is uncomfortable or the last thing we want to do. We are Zimbabweans originating from the south, self-denial only allows us to abdicate the responsibility to make ourselves comfortable and to fight for our rights in the space we occupy.

Our resistance and emancipation starts with the determined excavation and displacement of a protective, albeit temporary, layer of self-denial – denying our Zimbabwean identity. This denial does not make us better Mthwakazi citizens, but it plays right into the hands of Shona supremacists. It strengthens their delusion that we are foreigners and justifies their attempts at Shonalisation of the physical, political and socioeconomic space we occupy.

We must never see ourselves as guests in Zimbabwe because through the heroism of our forefathers we are rightful heirs to the territory we occupy today. It is impossible to separate the fight for a free Mthwakazi from challenging Zimbabwe’s oppressive regime.

As noted above, we are not foreigners in Zimbabwe, and the denial of Zimbabwean identity does not make anyone a superior Mthwakazi. No nation profits the most from our self-denial than Mashonaland which explains why Mashonaland politicians are keen to remind us of our origins and falsely claim Zimbabwe for themselves. We must refuse to lose our identity in the maze of bizarre perceptions of us by Mashonaland.  

Nobody will ever understand us better than we understand ourselves – here we talking our culture, our traditions, our norms and our values. Thus, we must be confident to write about ourselves, and let the world see us throw our lenses not its own. If we try to view ourselves through the lenses that the world offers us, all we will see will be distortions.

If we cannot be comfortable in ourselves, we will never be comfortable. We have no reason to accept anyone’s definition of us. Yes, we came from the south, so what? Who did not come from somewhere? Truth be told, all in Zimbabwe are migrants.

We must not let anyone use the past of migration to create a history that categorises us, determines our future and tells us who we are; we will define ourselves; we will reconstruct and use our past the way we see fit. And that past includes the fact of our forefathers migrating north and making a permanent home in the space we occupy today.

Unadulterated history informs us that colonialists merged two separate nations, Mashonaland and Matabeleland, to create Southern Rhodesia which was to become Zimbabwe at independence in 1980, and we were equal partners in that merger, and so we shall be. Our people need no reminder to understand that we are not less deserving to be citizens of modern-day Zimbabwe. We shall never be bullied into second class citizens; we shall never allow anyone to make us victims.

We will not allow ourselves to be caught up in a self-rejection trap; we will not start walking apologetically as though unsure of where we are or who we are. We will walk with confidence and signal to every other nation within the Zimbabwe boundaries that it is necessary for them to treat us with respect.

Like all nations occupying present-day Zimbabwe, we will stand and move like we have the right to the space we occupy. We are not answerable to any nation, big or small; we have the right to lead and plan our lives in line with our traditions and customs with no interference from any other nation within the multinational state of Zimbabwe.

It is incumbent upon the Mashonaland dominated State of Zimbabwe to ensure anything about us is with us. Laws that determine our destiny must be drawn with our consent and contribution or they will be rejected before the ink they are written in dries.

We have to be unequivocal in our rejection of Harare’s selective justice – the protection of certain nations and brutalisation of others must stop. Sanity must prevail, Harare politicians need to rid themselves of the self-comforting delusion that people from Matabeleland are somehow less Zimbabwean, and get used to the reality that we are the rightful occupiers of the space we occupy today, and with that start treating us with respect and as equals that we have always been.

By RESEARCH HUB

a political and policy research hub with interest in Mthwakazi human rights, safety and security.

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