Contextualising freedom via the myopic prism of African nationalism is suicidal.
Yugoslav political philosopher Milovan Djilas pours scorn on the idea by drawing attention to the formation of a “new class” comprising leading party officials, with their families and friends, who use the formidable apparatus of a one-party state to maintain their privileged positions.
Much the same principle applies in black-ruled Africa; virtually all countries are now controlled by one-party hierarchies or military dictatorships, the “independence constitutions” having been either ignored or formally abolished . . . a mass movement drawing on racial hostility to replace an advanced leading group of a different ethnic origin by a “new class” of privileged despots of the same ethnic origin as the masses — all in the name of democracy, human rights and so forth.
In Zimbabwe, promises of “liberation” from colonial bondage to blissful self-rule turned out to be a falsity, whilst our hopes of liberal democracy have been dashed against the jagged-edged corals of nationalist greed.
Post-independence prisoners of conscience like Magodonga Mahlangu, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, Solomon Madzore and Farai Maguwu must be forgiven for not differentiating white colonial from black nationalist oppression.
The yoke of media restrictions, political reprisals and obnoxious State propaganda gives credibility to Zanu PF’s “liberation nationalism” being in permanent jeopardy.
Wikipedia says of political freedom: “. . . it can also refer to the positive exercise of rights, capacities and possibilities for action and the exercise of social or group rights”. None of the constructs of freedom have been accorded due attention by the current generation of nationalists in Zimbabwe.
The President Robert Mugabe era of contemporary liberation politics is mainly an illusion of “economic empowerment deficit” — the perfect excuse to plunder private property for the purpose of enriching an elitist ruling class.
Nationalism is a conduit for self-enrichment by a compliant shoal of cohorts utterly consumed in self-exaltation to the point of blasphemous idolatry.
My despondency with nationalists is not so much for not “liberating” Zimbabwe. After all, 30 years of Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe activism put Zimbabwe on a trajectory of overdue black majority rule.
However, other than a Parliament flooded with “good niggers”, most Zimbabweans have pretty little to show for Nkomo’s life sacrifices.
Political liberation has become a curse, leaving the reputation of black nationalism in tatters.
Nationalism itself has nothing to do with freedom. “Johann Gottfried Herder coined it during the late 1770s as a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms.”
As one author observed, nationalist liberation political party names make no reference to “democracy” or “freedom”!
The brand of nationalism currently afflicting Zimbabwe is by fate, defined by Wikipedia as ultra-nationalism “that expresses extremist support for one’s nationalist ideals . . . often characterised by authoritarianism, efforts toward reduction or stoppage of immigration, expulsion and/or oppression of non-native populations within the nation or its territories, demagoguery of leadership, emotionalism, scapegoating outsiders in socio-economic crisis, fomenting talk of presumed, real, or imagined enemies . . .”.
We are reminded in the same study that: “Nationalism is inherently divisive because it highlights perceived differences between people, emphasising an individual’s identification with their own nation.”
Zanu PF’s obsession with sovereignty is in this class of political chicanery! My argument: Equating nationalist liberation with total restoration of civil, political, social and economic liberty is pervasively virulent propaganda to anaesthetise Zimbabweans into legitimising plunder by the ruling Zanu PF elite.
They have absolutely no interest in promoting genuine freedom. The superstructure on which the architecture of Mugabe-type nationalism sits are invisible piles that entrench the status quo to subvert liberal democracy and perpetuate their own selfish eco-political interests.
Rejoice Ngwenya is a social commentator writing in his own capacity