THOSE who have devoted years to studying the complex organ known as the human brain make some insightful observations. Psychologists, for years, contend that when one repeats a lie to the brain, they end up believing the lie.
This is the foolproof technique widely used in the motivation industry; motivational speakers call it affirmation. An affirmation is a positive statement that is drilled into the mind repeatedly until it sticks to the subconscious mind as to produce the desired behaviour.
A timid speaker, for example, may make the following affirmations: “I am a confident person. I am not afraid to stand before a crowd.”
This affirmation, repeated for a straight 21 days, will stick and ultimately influence the behaviour of the timid person. It is a way of cheating the subconscious mind to the end that one winds up believing the drilled “lie.”
Now, while this works spectacularly with the self-help industry, applied elsewhere, it can prove disastrous. In fact, there is a thin line between stoic philosophy and the affirmation call of the motivation industry. A stoic, for example, can have a hot knife piercing through his flesh while he sings triumphantly.
Not that they can’t feel the pain, but they blind themselves to the pain and forge normalcy. Stoicism, in its wisdom, or lack thereof, defies the mind. It is sad, seeing as it is that, as a nation, we have come to resemble stoics who will all, but feign bliss amidst clear and unbearable suffering.
Zimbabwe continues to groan under the pangs of a decade-and-half economic penury that has seen companies shutting down at a frightening rate consequently sending thousands of breadwinners into the streets.
And whether the penury is borne of misrule or sanctions is discussion for another day, but the undeniable truth is that the Zimbabwean economy has continued on a freefall. Job cuts have become the order of the day.
The government is struggling to pay a bloated civil service and thrice had to shift pay dates. The health sector, ever in doldrums, has been marked by strikes, abuse of donor funds and shortage of basic drugs. Zimbabwean exports are far outweighed by imports. No country ever thrived when it has to import more than it exports.
Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remains very low as compared to other GDPs in the region. Fuel shortages continue to ground the courts and roads, a critical component of any vibrant economy, remain in an appalling state.
These are all tell-tale signs of an economy in dire straits. Even our kith and kin are known for demeaning jobs across the globe as they try to eke out a living. Back home, most families are struggling to have a decent single meal per day.
Against this catastrophic background, it defies the mind how we continue to stoically revel in the fact or, more appropriately, illusion that Zimbabweans are an empowered people. We speak highly of empowerment and celebrate the land parcelled out to indigenous people.
We can even mock South Africa for failing to “empower” its people. We perpetually feed a fictitious national ego applauding ourselves for possessing critical resources.
Diamonds, for instance, are one mineral that has been flaunted at every turn. But honestly, what good is a national resource when it does not benefit the country’s neediest inhabitants? What good is a high literacy rate when thousands of graduates are sunbathing?
Are we truly empowered when our local shops are filled with foreign-manufactured goods? That, precisely, is the trouble with a fictitious ego: it engenders a false sense of achievement. It does not call for an actuarial scientist to tell who is least empowered between a South African and a Zimbabwean.
Our high literacy rate, under normal circumstances, should stroke our national ego and make us walk on air, but, candidly, we can’t walk on air on hungry bellies. Our leaders need to pause for a moment and reflect on whether we are not being stoics who choose, deliberately, to ignore a voracious fire ripping through the nation. Zimbabwe, in all honesty, cannot be described in the language of a prosperous nation neither can its people, who have flooded foreign lands, be said to be an empowered people.
The poverty in this country has scaled unprecedented levels. The suffering is visible everywhere and we cannot continue to feign normalcy.
If Zimbabweans had been truly empowered they would not risk their lives enduring xenophobic attacks in hostile South Africa neither would they vend in droves back home. Things are not glowing, economically, as we would want the world to believe and this must be accepted as a first step.
We need to drop this stoic propensity. These make-believe claims will not erase the reality of the suffering Zimbabwean. We need to discard our fictitious ego and take stock of our national and foreign policies to date. Have they yielded the desired results? Are they successfully dealing with graft?
Do they attract the much-needed investment and, more importantly, are they reviving industry? An honest take on these questions should tell us a good story.
Our imaginary national ego need not stand between us and national progress.
Learnmore Zuze is an author, legal researcher and social analyst. He writes here in his own capacity. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org