An Open Letter to my Fellow Zimbabweans

Posted on 29/10/2010

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Dear Comrades

Recent events have prompted me to write to you today. I am hoping that we can in fact discuss this pertinent issue in the open.

Brief background: –

When I was in the 6th grade I learnt a lesson I still remember to this very day. Her name was Mrs Greene and interestingly enough, her daughter Althea was also in my class. Those who know me will tell you that laughter is an important ingredient in my daily life. I am not entirely sure when I decided that I would become the class clown but I embarked on my ‘chosen profession’ almost immediately after the start of the new school year. Needless to say Mrs Greene, my teacher didn’t appreciate my constant interruptions and all the shenanigans that came with my new role. Althea pulled me aside one day and informed me that her mother wasn’t impressed with my behaviour. To say I was shattered is an understatement. My grades slumped and school became a chore for a while. Mum (aka The Voice of Reason (TVR)) immediately noticed this change as you would expect. TVR confronted me about the grades and like any normal child I presented her with a variety of reasons why, how and who. In reality I didn’t want to own up to the truth. Mum made me see the truth – simple! You see, there is always that option – the truth. I needed to just pull up my socks, get on with my homework and study harder – the end! Many years later and having graduated a few times – that lesson sunk in and although I still make up excuses every so often; sooner or later I own up for my contribution in most situations and attempt to make amends.

So comrades, I turn to you now. What is your truth? Remembering truth is relative depending on your situation. In an interview – Gamu (the Zimbabwean – ‘Scottish’ X – factor contestant) claimed that deportation to Zimbabwe would result in her facing the ‘firing squad’. Is this the truth? I’m not necessarily interested in discussing the facts of this case but one aspect of this story which immediately struck me personally was the underlining issues associated with it – pride. Whether you are currently based in the diaspora or living in our beloved Zimbabwe, this letter was written with you in mind. There are a few of us (ever-growing number at that) who no longer yearn for discussions centred on the ‘problems’ of Zimbabwe so let us move forward and engage in healthy debate about the solutions. Let us leave the draconian chat to the hippos and let them wallow in conversations of the colonialist et al. We know the challenges we face today – obviously some know more about these challenges than others but let us openly share our thoughts and ideas. I personally enjoy the debate surrounding developments in our country, and the intricacies of our relations with our neighbours but I have grown tired of the constant blame game. How long must we subject ourselves and the next generation to our failure in admitting the truth? We have some responsibility in all this.

I listen to the masses who constantly blame ‘the regime’, the existing coalition government, others who blame the pre-independence government and the list goes on. When will this cease I often wonder. We know what happened in the past, well some do. Our lives are a direct testament to this. What if, we took stock of the situation and instead focused on what we can do today, tomorrow and next week? What if we changed the way we speak about our beloved Zimbabwe? What if we spoke with authority based on real facts? Why discuss life in Masvingo and assume that this is directly reflective of life in Zimbabwe in general? Not everything about our beloved is political. I have an umalume/sekuru/uncle working in Harare. I spoke to him very recently and I asked him about his life now versus 2 years ago. He chuckled and admitted that he was happy that he has bus fare for mama omdala/ambuya/aunt to visit other family members this Christmas without having to worry about the hyperinflationary bus fares of old. These are the small signs of progress I tell you. Every so often we make small steps forward – let us at least acknowledge that truth when we speak of beloved!

What am I advocating for ‘really’?

I wrote to you today not from a place of idealistic naivety if such a thing exists but merely from a place of camaraderie. I fully understand the challenges we face. I was there in Harare during Operation Murambatsvina. I witnessed and experienced sadness and despair; yet today I encourage us to look forward and focus on the future – the aspect of life we can in fact influence. Let us leave behind talk of the colonialist et al for the hippo generation and history lessons – and yes we must teach our children this history. Let us look within, finally embrace the truth and admit that we should also accept our share of the blame for what has happened in the last decade or so. Some of us left and never returned – never looked back and yet we speak the loudest often without real facts. We gained knowledge and helped other nations grow – which by the way isn’t bad either. Every now and again, we sent some money home and scoffed at the state of affairs or indeed the infrastructure when we visited home or read some article online. We politicised everything to do with our beloved country and focused on the wrong things. Instead of worrying about how to rebrand the country, we speak about Zimbabwe with such disdain as if it was some unwanted unloved step child. We attend events like Zimfest and Zim Expo and truly feel nationalist for what – 2 whole minutes after the event and return to our usual negative unproductive tactics of blaming the regime whilst not accepting responsibility that we all didn’t vote for whatever reason. And even if we voted and felt cheated in any way (some of you say you do), did we rise up and challenge the voting system or did we run with the quickness when we saw the first police truck heading our way? You tell me. At times it seems like we all looked at each other hoping that one of us in the crowd would step forward and rebuild our battered economy on their own, whilst providing more ammo for the rumour mill. Just as TVR was honest with me about my own failings, we should also be honest with ours. Let us simply acknowledge how we have often exasperated the situation! My comrades, let’s be honest with ourselves first. I am not a saint in all of this. I’m just a blogger – the passionate variety. I am not asking for a revolution or a call to bear arms. Trust me, this revolution will not be televised either. I’m just advocating for one simple thing – be honest with yourself first. How are you helping your beloved these days? Are you speaking from a place of knowledge based on facts? Only you know the answer to this question. I’m just the blogger asking the question remember?

I ask you, the lady next to you and my aunt at home to somehow find another way to help our beloved with her destined rebirth. The challenges that we face as a nation are immense to say the least – the sums we need and the sums we owe are almost crippling – in fact they are. The kinds of figures being thrown around in order for us to turn our beloved around are just unbelievable and yet we must continue to engage with other nations, continue working together irrespective of political persuasion. I have learnt the hard way – we need each other to survive, trade, educate, nurse and grow. If you are still reading this letter, I wrote this for you. I was hoping that this letter would invoke something within, urge you to tell the story of beloved without hiding the challenges whilst also and more importantly admitting (to yourself) how you need to change the way you speak and relate to beloved.

Comrades, I ask you to consider your next move carefully. Search within, only you know your truth.

May God bless Zimbabwe!

Sir Nigel

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