Zim 2011 — where are the missing warriors?

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At 31 plus, Zimbabwe is and ought to display maturity as a person whose character is the sum of its complex, plural and diverse parts.

Given its history, a natural tendency exists to frame the character of the nation through the prism of lives of people who have played their part in the political story of the struggle for a better life forgetting millions of other role players.

If one were to profile the residents at the national shrine, the Heroes Acre, it will become clear that there is something fundamentally missing in the post-colonial Zimbabwean narrative.

The life of any nation ought to be a brilliant book with as many chapters as the millions of people who choose to be part of it.

Some would tell of disadvantage while others of opportunity. Equally some would tell of real and even imagined enemies while others of comradeship and partnership.

Some chapters would necessarily be dull and ordinary, others intense and exciting. The key to any successful nation building enterprise is never to exclusively focus on a single chapter.

In the case of Cuba, for instance, the chapter that deals with affairs of the Castro brothers has dominated the Cuban story to the extent that it escapes the mind of an average rational person that Cuba is bigger than the Castro family and more importantly, the more Castro brothers dominate the story the more likely ordinary citizens will surrender into a state of mind that they are less competent and gifted to lead the nation and in so doing fail to demystify the notion that only the Castros were anointed to lead.

After 31 years of independence, we must ask the question why it is the case that the story of Zimbabwe’s non-political icons, legends and superstars is missing in our narrative.

Zimbabwe has produced sons and daughters whose lives over the last 31 years have contributed to raising the flag and position the brand strategically in the African family of artists, businesspersons, intellectuals, sportsmen and millions others and yet it must be accepted that when people think of what is wrong or right with Zimbabwe they often focus only on the lives of political players.

I have learned to accept that any battle requires human beings who think better than others and such individuals will earn the title of general or warrior. Any battle without leaders is doomed to fail.

Even the indigenisation initiative requires its own warriors and yet we have observed that messengers of indigenisation tend to be political actors or self- serving opportunists and rent seekers.

This is not necessarily a bad thing but to convert a noble idea into practice requires actors who subscribe to the same point of view.

When one looks at the newly emerging nations, it is instructive that they all have their own indigenous warriors.

For example, in the case of South Korea, we now know that the warriors are Samsung, Hyundai, LG Electronics and many others.

In the case of India, the generals are known. However, in the case of Zimbabwe, any would-be general is targeted, specified, ridiculed and over harassed in a manner that exposes the hypocrisy and not the sincerity of the thrust.

As part of nation building using indigenous role models, it is striking that as attempts are being made to alter the membership register of companies to reflect the demographics of the country little attention is being focused on learning from the experiences of other nations, and more importantly in learning from the experiences of indigenous persons who have dared defy a logic that blacks cannot climb the opportunity ladder without the benevolent assistance of the State.

Nations that have succeeded have done so on the simple principle that no one should be left out of the narrative.

The key is never to be locked on a single chapter and never to be tempted to define the nation’s possibilities using the prism of a single individual, however smart and gifted he or she may be.

The courage to keep turning the pages in the book of a nation must count a lot in determining the success or failure of a nation.

Human beings are eternal optimists and they know as I do that a better chapter lies ahead if only we care to invest in the kind of society that we deserve and want.

Surely, when the better chapter for Zimbabwe is written in a foreign country then we are all compelled to pause, think carefully and resolve to seek change that we all can believe in.

The missing points of light that should inspire are shinning in other jurisdictions and it must be obvious to all that ultimately what matters to a living human being is not what pain the past has produced but where the next opportunity to have a better life lies.

Our collective job is to make Zimbabwe attractive firstly to indigenous warriors and through them smart partnerships will emerge.

The agenda of nation building compels practitioners to appreciate that the viability of a nation state is inextricably linked to the creativity of individuals whose success is a consequence of service and a product of transactions concluded on voluntary basis.

A nation state that nurtures and encourages income earners to deploy their energies in its jurisdiction is better prepared to discharge its obligations to the vulnerable and poor than a nation state that forgets that there is more to life than the state and its actors.

Finally, if for example, the Cuban revolution had produced even a thousand chapters of other role players than the Castro family, it is not difficult to imagine how far the country would have advanced in the struggle to bring a better life to all.

It is, therefore, remarkable that in our lifetime, the Castro brothers have come to the inescapable conclusion that monopolised state power is not healthy for national progress.