Zimbabwe’s independence: An attack on Matabeleland history, culture and liberty


Credit: Rand Daily Mail (30-Jan-1984) via Taurai Njabulo Chirandu Njekete

Gukurahundi massacres will not ebb away because ZANU PF politicians and sympathisers choose to omit that past in their history books and history education. The pain and scars of that inhumane act will not disappear, they are etched in the hearts, minds and souls of the people of Matabeleland and mass graves scattered on the landscape.

The polarisation of parliament by the ZANU PF party; the decline of civility, and the rise of tribal attack politics on the aftermath of Zimbabwean independence in 1980 represents unparalleled disservice to the political system and a betrayal of PF ZAPU and Matabeleland people who sacrificed their all for the independence of Zimbabwe.

Politics of dominance

ZANU PF’s philosophy has always been to hold Shona language and culture as superior to all others in the country. It was hardly a surprise that instead of taking independence as an opportunity to build a functioning multinational, multicultural political system – a system that reflected the people it represented, ZANU PF set about pursuing its ‘childhood’ dream of legislating Shona creed into law, imposing one nation, one political party and ending difference. Our people were butchered for being culturally and socially different, and daring to ascribe to different political views.

Matabeleland Memoirs

For constantly referencing the Gukurahundi atrocities, we are told that we are being too sensitive by those whose reality depends on being insensitive about Gukurahundi.

“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

― Elie Wiesel.

Attempts to suppress the Matabeleland voice will fail; intimidation won’t silence us

― THE RESEARCH HUB.
Photo credit: Anonymous. Unarmed civilians slain by a ZANU PF government for belonging to the ‘wrong tribe’

To those who rejoice in the suffering of fellow human beings peace shall be denied.

― THE RESEARCH HUB.
Photo credit: Bulawayo24. Bhalagwe victims of the Matabeleland genocide.
Photo credit: Anonymous. Victims of Matabeleland genocide lie in a shallow grave.
Photo credit: supplied to Daily Maverick (2021) In memory of loved ones whose lives were illegally cut short under the orders of the Zimbabwean State.

We shall not stop making the point that Gukurahundi was a crime against humanity. Gukurahundi was not a ‘moment of madness’, it was genocide. We did not notice the full scale of the damage of the 1983 – ’84 Gukurahundi atrocities. Now with our maturity and good understanding of the events we can see slain Ndebele people of all ages lying heaped in scattered mass graves in Bhalagwe, disused mines and shallow graves across the region. In that moment something else died there in our nation, and was buried in the sands and clays. Our people’s dream collapsed and died there.  

The rebuilding exercise

We are not about to give up on anything. There is that steely determination about us, as a people, that never yields at the will of others. We will always rise at every threat to silence us.

Photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt. We achieve more together

Different but one

The Ndebele identity has never been a singular one but a multiple one. Our focus is the promotion of conversation, tolerance and understanding over the more destructive forces of war, tribalism, racism and political chaos that have characterised postcolonial Africa. When it comes to provision, a person’s tribe or race must be of no more significance than the length of their hair.

“Diversity is an aspect of human existence that cannot be eradicated by terrorism or war or self-consuming hatred. It can only be conquered by recognizing and claiming the wealth of values it represents for all.”

― Aberjhani

Looking into the future

Change must come. We are unsatisfied with the story of the independent Zimbabwe so far, how things have turned out. We will labour to unfold our own myth. Our dream is not gaining power over any nation or being in control of anyone but over ourselves; we will never be frightened by the freedom to lead and plan our lives. This is a cry of a nation denied liberty. We shall die our way than live anyone’s way.

The best way to predict the future is to create it

― Abraham Lincoln
Photo credit: ZimLive (2020) Njube High School pupils carrying President Mnangagwa’s portrait engage in a peaceful protest against poor education infrastructure.
Photo credit: ZimLive (2019) Local youths protest over the Mpilo Hospital School of Nursing’s unfair recruitment process

Matabeleland’s natural environment

We are endowed with natural resources, and we must fight so that we obtain adequate autonomy to build our economic and political space in our own image. Let us use the natural wealth in Matabeleland to benefit the nation. But let us build a respectful and sustainable interaction with nature so that it continues to enrich us.

The Victoria Falls

…is a waterfall located in Matabeleland North on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe; it provides habitat for several unique species of plants and animals, and with its width of 1,708m is one of the world’s largest waterfalls.

Photo credit: Victoria Falls Tourism. The smoke that thunders
Photo credit: Andy Higgs via Grown-up Travel Guide daily. Batoka Gorge on Zambezi R.
Photo credit: Tailormade Africa. Matobo Hills, Matabeleland South
Photo credit: Gerhard Huber (2012) via Global Geography. Matobo Hills in Matabeleland South
Photo credit: Gerhard Huber (2012) via Global Geography. Matobo Hills in Matabeleland South

Historical architecture

Photo credit: Wikimedia. Khami, a ruined city located 22km west of Bulawayo

Conclusion

When we are better than we were yesterday then progress would have been made. The goal for Matabeleland politics is to: “Support people. Build resilience. Promote development”. We can achieve that by planning, research and funding our own projects, investing our time, and even more important, writing our own history and reading it out loud so our children can be sanitised from the bastardised ZANU PF presentation of the past including the narrative on the Gukurahundi atrocities. When one person in an organisation has no integrity that can be seen as a problem within the organisation, but when nobody has integrity, that is a policy. Gukurahundi was ZANU PF policy not an act triggered by a few individuals with impaired cognitive function.


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