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Opinion: Lessons from the South Africa


A STORY is told of a woman who would watch her neighbour open the car door for his wife each and every day. Never in her life did she dream of her husband doing the same for her, despite both neighbours being socialised to be ladies and gentlemen — in their world the gentlemen opened doors for the ladies.

By Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje

This was because it was almost taboo for her husband whom she deemed unromantic. One day the two neighbours got chatting and the woman whose husband did not open the door for her expressed how lucky this other woman was for having such a wonderful, caring and loving husband.

The woman who had asked her neighbour did not understand her neighbour’s response as the other woman laughed at her response. After she had managed to calm herself down, she responded that her husband only opened the door for her because their car door was malfunctioning and the husband was the only one who had the necessary tricks to open the “dead” door.

Lesson learnt for the woman who was envious and caused havoc in her home demanding her husband to open the door for her. I was reminded of this story these past weeks as I thought of the gift of learning lessons in all sorts of manner. We too could learn a few lessons from our South African neighbours if we cared enough to! This is what I managed to draw from the #feesmustfall campaign.

The #feesmustfall campaign was started by young minds who knew no race, colour or creed. It did not matter who your leader was, which political party you belonged to or who was watching you. It was a reality that bound many across the usual dividing lines to demand what was rightfully theirs — a free education or one that is defined by access for all. No one cared who your mother was, who she dined with, who your father was or who he plays golf with. It never mattered that you came from a wealthy background or that you were a trust fund child. It was all about demanding an education that every student that wished to learn would be able to afford and be educated.

Even the very splinter groups combined forces because there was a reality that defined each and everyone of them. It was about unity of purpose perpetuated by a deep desire to attain freedom for all. Today, we fail to see the same for our dear beloved Zimbabwe and instead choose to be defined across ethnic, political party, racial, class and whatever lines you see.

If we are to get Zimbabwe working once again, we ought to pause and join hands about the mediocrity kind of divided and egocentric leadership we choose to embrace. When it comes to creating and leaving a legacy for future generations, we can learn that it is not the size of my house, purse or even car, but it is the mark I leave in this world that matters most. What footprints have you left for future generations?

The walls will eventually come crumbling down as was clear with the #feesmustfall campaign! Those that lead a struggle need to have enough zeal, passion and comradeship in order for there to be results.

If you pause for a moment and ask those who went out to fight the war of liberation, they will tell you what it is like to hold fort until a country is liberated. The same happened with those students — they held on until dear President Jacob Zuma declared a 0% university fee increment for 2016. It is possible. Yes, those bullets flew all over, some got hurt, the causalities were fatal in some instances.

However, they held out, they held on until that no fee increment was announced. The fear was real, parents were concerned, but no greater concern could beat that of a child starting university and failing to complete their studies because someone decides that the budget does better financing weapons and other luxuries in government and not tertiary education.

We too could use the same blindness to the tactics of what we are used to and explore what it means to lobby and advocate for that which we demand as citizens of Zimbabwe. It is not a call to violence, but a call to demand what we rightfully demand as ours and refuse to tolerate the status quo and its drama. Oh yes we can, no fear or favour!

The #feesmustfall was a hush tag for the South African university students as they demanded a no fee increment in 2016. It had over 200 000 tweets within a few hours and was said to be trending way ahead of the World Cup rugby match between the Springboks and the All Blacks. That is so very “huge”.

People as far as Michigan were now asking for help from the campaign to transform their own lived realities. That, dear reader, is the power of social media. Young and old alike we held hands as we demanded action, called for support and all sorts in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in South Africa. The world was ablaze as young people made history with the largest protest since apartheid South Africa, they said.

Social media is a powerful weapon we can all utilise for the greater good. It is possible to harness the potential of social media and watch our world transform one cause at a time. Ours is not necessarily a war of throwing stones or going out with arms, that part of the struggle happened and now we have revolved to the technological era. Ours is a tech war and we too can transform Zimbabwe as did other young people from other places.

That #feesmustfall closed in a new chapter as we now talk about the #feeshasfallen campaign. This goes to show all of us, especially those residing in Zimbabwe, that it is possible to make a difference with just a handful of people. We desire nothing violent or harsh, just a handful of us with a wiling heart and soul to redefine how things are being done at many levels. It will never help us to keep complaining as we all have realised this never does work anyway.

Like that woman who learnt from her neighbour, we too could draw a few lessons from our neighbour South Africa and see how Zimbabwe can jump from mediocrity to excellence because no one can dent a willing citizen that is passionate about his or her country.

Our hearts love Zimbabwe, we are dedicated to its growth, development and place in the global world. We will not stand by and watch it continue on this downward trend. We will do what we can, one life at a time, one cause at a time, to see that we win this battle against suffering, poverty, poor services and other ills.

The battle is long, but is never lost. Many thanks to our neighbours from the south, we will hold these lessons very dear and do what we can to make a difference.

Aluta continua! Brothers and sisters, let’s do this!

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