Some people have been so great that the course of history is different just because of them — how they lived, thought and spoke.
Nelson Mandela, Joshua Nkomo, Mahatma Gandhi, Dag Hammarskjöld, Martin Luther King (Jr) are some of them and it is not too arduous a thesis to maintain that these people are distinguished.
It does not require strenuous thinking to realise and appreciate that their zeal and untiring quest for peace, justice and democracy makes them heads and shoulders above the rest.
At the same time there are some who thrive on doing the opposite. We all know them!
The poor and forsaken are still condemned to live in a world of terrible injustice, crushed by unreachable and apparently unchangeable economic magnets which political authority nearly always depends on.
Maybe Martin Luther King (Jr) got it wrong that we are born equal because some seem to be more equal than others. Equality is not based on political opinion, race, religion or gender. The undeniable fact that we are all human beings makes us equal.
Just because the folks mentioned in the first paragraph acknowledged this simple principles today we cherish their contribution to humanity.
The purpose of this article is to restate the need for peace, justice and democracy in Africa, particularly in Zimbabwe. This is against the background that Africa has been reluctant to learn from history. I will not discuss the history in question as it is beyond the objectives of the article.
But we all know why we cherish the lives of Mandela, Nkomo, Gandhi, Hammarskjöld, King (Jr) and their similarity is why history does not favour Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Idi Amin and Mobutu Seseko.
With this history in mind it should have been clear that racism, apartheid, civil unrest and politically-motivated killings are stupid. What makes them stupid is the call to peace and harmony.
Hitler’s propaganda minister, Goebbels, defined war and violence as, “the continuation of political activities by other means”.
This definition has somehow been adapted in the domain of our political system such that every cause is rectified by violence and intimidation. Rectifying historical imbalances in land ownership had to be done through violence.
Illegal settlements in major towns had to be removed by violence. Elections were won through violence. Indigenisation is being carried out violently by some radical youths with dubious groups under dubious names. The list goes on, of course.
The problem is not who is to be held to account. The real problem is: How do we solve our differences? I am not falling into the fallacy that we are ever going to have perfect peace because it is found at one place — the graveyard. Nonetheless, peace is the panacea to our sick socio-political systems. Peace in this Global Political Agreement (GPA) has not been necessarily an end to violence, but rather a means of living with violence under constant attention.
Zimbabwe is lowly ranked on the UNDP’s Global Peace Index of 2010. We are always fighting over man-made reasons only in the furtherance of a handful’s egocentric ideologies. In 2100 history shall be a pathetic junkyard full of unbelievable reasons for fighting. How can human beings who claim to be the most intelligent organisms on planet Earth fight over differences in ideas, political opinion and race?
The then Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe said in 1980: “If I fought you yesterday like an enemy, today you have become a friend and ally with the same national interest. If yesterday you hated me, today you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me. Is it not folly therefore that under these circumstances that anybody should seek to revive the wounds and grievances of the past wrongs? The wrongs of the past should now stand forgiven and forgotten”. Thirty-one years later it still doesn’t make sense to many.
I acknowledge, like many, the “commitment” by political leaders to laying the foundation for peace through the signing of the GPA. The GPA helping to cease violence is now a fairytale. The media frequently mistake such atmospherics for real political progress because they scan the surface of events by accumulating photographs of smiles and handshakes. On camera it is all smiles in pursuit of peace, but politicians will always be politicians. Two politicians, by virtue of meeting, do not give in to philanthropists.
Fostering real peace is more than that.
Zimbabweans should oust violence, a misfit in our societies and hence welcome peace and tolerance as a value. Not from a dollar-and-cents point of view, Africa has lost so much including pride, original identity, rightful status, integrity and developmental opportunities all because of the love of violence. It is my wish that Africa realises that peace is the only option left.
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