HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsI can’t sing national anthem, like you!

I can’t sing national anthem, like you!

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So you thought Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma and Standard journalist Nqaba Matshazi are the only “dissidents” who cannot sing the entire rendition of Zimbabwe’s national anthem?

I’ve got good news for you — so can’t you and . . . me! I’m not surprised. I don’t care much about national anthems. Most of them are such a big yawn, anyway.

I don’t even remember what the Rhodesian one sounded like. If anything, I had a ball of a time playing the rock version of Star Spangled Banner on my old acoustic guitar at school. The Jimi Hendrix influence.

Frankly speaking, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica is one of the few that I could complete without stammering. It was sentimental, simple and did not talk about blood and death.

Nowadays Zanu PF extremists beat up people who can’t sing the national anthem. Maybe it is their song. I do not do Zanu PF songs.

They remind me of hatred, poverty, violence and starvation. It’s like listening to a horror film soundtrack. The serial killer is hiding behind a door and an innocent woman comes into the room. Gruesome!

According to Wikipedia, a national anthem is a “generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogises the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognised either by a nation’s government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.”

Now this where Tshuma and Matshazi ran into troubled waters. By Zanu PF crude standards, you are only patriotic if you can sing the national anthem apart from, of course, agreeing to sign their anti-sanctions petition.

There is no law that compels you and me to sing it. At the last Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce congress, the chairman aborted the exercise after one mumbled stanza. Had those Nyanga delegates been at Parliament for the Human Rights Bill consultation, there would have been two hundred body bags!

I don’t know whoever told these people to appropriate anything “national”. Public transport operators to Zanu PF “strongholds” — a euphemism for lawless zones — have to display a Zimbabwe flag in their vehicles.

The “old man’s” flag. Reminds me of Adolf Hitler. My guess is that if you could not sing Das Lied deer Deusche he would have ordered your summary execution.

Not even the late author — Solomon Mutsvairo — would have guessed that Tshuma and Matshazi would be clobbered for not singing his song.

During the constitutional outreach, we made old women stand up and — old men remove their hats — to sing the national anthem. Domination. Zanu PF style.

I myself learned a few stanzas in Shona. I play a couple of musical instruments, so I am not tone deaf. But nobody can make me sing when I do not want to. I was not at Parliament.

I survived the anthem carnage. In 1897, Enoch Sontonga did Southern Africa a great favour by penning Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika later adopted as the national anthem in five countries in Africa including Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe, says Wikipedia.

It must have taken a giant leap of naïvety to discard such a profoundly sentimental song on the part of the excitable Zanu PF. If it was, for a long time, a symbol of resistance against colonial repression in the 60s and 70s, we can also use it in defiance against tyranny today.

Zanu PF insists on forcing their worldview of anything “national” on citizens. I’m glad to remain outside the laager of conformity. Those that have appropriated the song, even willing to assault for it, can stay with it!
Someone — you — have to make a principled stand for the truth.

Rejoice Ngwenya is a social commentator. He writes in his own capacity.

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