My thoughts have turned to branding but specifically the rebranding of Zimbabwe or as I call it now – the #Rebrand:Zim Movement. There are various thoughts swirling in my head at the moment. In fact, I’ve been thinking about this #Rebrand:Zim Movement since I got back from home in January. How does one rebrand a country like Zimbabwe? I am no marketing guru but the challenges we face are immense to say the least, especially when one looks at our history over the last 10 or so years. Michael Porter spoke about the competitive advantages that some countries have over others. I immediately think of our previously revered education system. How does it compare in the region now? Are wealthy parents from Botswana still sending their kids to Zim for high school? Our neighbours seem to have taken advantage of our demise and invested heavily in various areas in their own countries. A great number of organisations particularly in the NGO community have since relocated to Kenya, South Africa or beyond. Tourism worldwide fell by some 2-4% in the last year whilst tourism in Africa actually increased. I read a report somewhere a few weeks ago which detailed a number of reasons for this. The one reason that stood out was of course the ’World Cup’ in South Africa. Tourism in Mozambique has increased fourfold in the last 10 years while Zimbabwe’s tourist numbers have fallen off the scale. I could go on with the numerous stats I have but that’s not important just now. ‘Understanding’ the reasons for Zimbabwe’s demise is one thing but ‘Our Rebirth’ is where my main focus is right now.
The #Rebrand:Zim Movement has to start from somewhere; correction it has already started! One aspect and I’m sure the powers that be have already considered this but – this process must start with the Zimbabwean people themselves! The power that word of mouth carries has been documented by many marketing experts. When I meet Nigerians for example, most of who are very proud of their roots, the way they talk about their country makes me want to go to Nigeria to see why and understand this patriotism. Perhaps this is just the traveller in me looking for any excuse to go to Nigeria but I’m sure you understand my point.
It saddens me when I come into contact with fellow Zimbabweans who only speak negatively about Zimbabwe. My initial thought at this junction is to ask them when they were last in old country to see for themselves. So far a large percentage of negative comments are made by people who actually haven’t been home since the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) for example. Don’t get me wrong I’m not laying blame or accusing them of being less Zimbabwean than me. My point and I stress the purpose of this scribe is to highlight the need for us as Zimbabweans to think carefully about what we say about Zimbabwe to other Zimbabweans and indeed anyone else. I encourage fellow Zimbabweans to speak openly with authority remembering to tell the whole truth. Explaining the why, when and who.Over the last few years I come to realise just how vital my role as a Zimbabwean or an African is within my social circle. Those in my circle see Africa and Zimbabwe through my eyes, my actions and my words irrespective of my choice. Whether I choose this role or not, ‘I am we are’ ambassadors in some form. I represent my family, my country, my continent and so forth. I have come to realise that it is much easier to demonise one man or one party instead of trying to understand the history of a whole nation. Let us not forget the nation. My old boss, Clem used to say that 25% of a problem is identifying the problem. I firmly believe that most of us have been very good at this. Very few however focus on the solution. #Rebrand:Zim Movement is about the solutions we need to implement.
I will end here by repeating this thought: – It is much easier to demonise one man or one party instead of trying to understand the history of a whole nation. This I believe has been one of our downfalls in the last 10 years or so.
God bless Zimbabwe