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Click here to upgrade!


A couple of weeks ago, I received a gadget that allows me to watch television on my phone or laptop with the usual accompanying instructions to install the device before I could use it.

It is fairly new on the market, so imagine my surprise when, as as soon as I finished installing it, I received a pop up message stating that a newer version was available and did I want to click “here” to install!

My first access to a computer was when we used to type in MS Dos and then back slash twice, so you must forgive me for being surprised at the pace of technological change.

My kids, usually with no hint of sarcasm, ask me what we did before the Internet! They cannot imagine a world without it. Using this analogy of upgrades, I want to return to my theme from last week, namely; the good must be better at being good than the bad are at being themselves.

I write this for people who set out with good intentions and then allow themselves to be side-tracked by intervening issues like budgets, political expediency or business targets.

It is at times like these when the individuals need to go back in to their original selves and click “here” to upgrade back to the future. In going back to your original and authentic self, you tap in to that Innerzela-like fountain and draw from your initial sense of purpose.

For those who are biblically inclined, it is like Moses having to go up to the mountain and return with a fresh set of commandments that are based on the timeless values that you have selected for yourself.

Are you a politician? What was your original intention when you decided to take a stand for whatever it is that you stand for? Has it changed? Why? Do you need to go back to what drove you in the beginning?

You know in your heart of hearts what brought you to this place. Do you know the meaning and practice of the concept of social justice?

How are you translating that to reality for the constituents who put you where you are, now, in recognition of your original intentions and with the firm belief that you would deliver based on your manifesto. Well, click here to upgrade!

What about people who ply their trade in non-governmental organisations, working to change the world with one workshop, one hotel lobby at a time?

Ouch, that is unfair, I hear you say and yet that is the perception that the so-called 4 x 4 brigade has brought on itself.

Where do you want us to meet? I hear them protest and I respond it is in the areas where you first sought to make a change.

In the field, where you meet real people with real concerns and not textbook answers; the small farmer who simply wanted to export flowers to The Netherlands, the Gogo with the 35 HIV-orphaned children and the radical tree-hugging environmentalist who wanted to green the country.

Get the results on the ground and then by all means, present your report in that hotel lobby complete with an eye on next year’s donor funding. Click here to upgrade!

Then of course, there is the sad and lamentable case of our beloved Air Zimbabwe. Every country should be proud of its national symbols. I was very proud, for instance, to watch a programme on Great Zimbabwe on BBC Knowledge on Tuesday night.

Lest we blame the economy, sanctions and imperialists, look at Ethiopian Airlines which has been running for over sixty years.

It is 100% government-owned so it is not true that nothing good can come out of governments in Africa.

Its aviation academy has trained 584 Ethiopian and 821 foreign pilots since 1964, 1 845 Ethiopian and 821 foreign technicians since 1967 and it currently flies to 61 international destinations!

Already, it has announced new flight services to South Sudan effective June 17 last week! It has turned a profit in almost all its years of operation.

What is our excuse? What has Ethiopia had for most of its history? Mengistu, sustained periods of drought after drought, skills haemorrhage that makes ours look like a minor cut and every misery imaginable!

All we have to do, before putting any more money into Air Zimbabwe, is to go and have a look at government’s approach over there and the management philosophy at the airline itself. Click here to upgrade!

Look, it is not easy and it all sounds very pompous but the fact that individuals throughout the course of history have produced amazing results through their initiatives (the amazing stories of the founding of Amnesty International, the Pay It Forward movement, the soccer World Cup, Wangari Maathai, come to mind) and we still enjoy the benefits thereof, is reason enough to believe.

If you put your original intentions first, country before self, principle before expedience combined with a deeply held desire that always wants to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, there is no reason why a mere decade from now, Zimbabwe should not have restored her place of honour among the nations.

I firmly believe in that. This is one of the reasons why I write and speak. To borrow a phrase, “a luta continua!” Life rewards action.

Albert Gumbo is an alumni of the Duke University-UCT US-Southern Africa Centre for Leadership and Public Values.
Contact: gumbo.albert@gmail.com

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