THE nearer Zimbabwe gets to elections, the more and more we need level-headedness.
By CONWAY TUTANI
First, people should realise that there is nothing particularly special about Zimbabwe compared to other nations. Zimbabwe is no more special than any other country as some over-arching politicians would have us believe by bringing in God into partisan politics.
In the same vein that Israel’s founding leader, David Ben-Gurion — to whom level-headedness was second nature — was reluctant to describe Jews as God’s chosen people, but a nation “with its own prostitutes and thieves” like any other nation, our own youths should be disabused of the dangerous self-righteous mantra that “God Is In It”. Let’s leave God out of it.
A nation should be strong enough to cope with all its lumpen elements like prostitutes and thieves. Zimbabwe will never be the kind of paradise that people are being fed to at rallies. It will always have its prostitutes and thieves no matter who wins the election.
This perspicaciousness, sobriety and maturity ties in with the preaching given by the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) general secretary, Reverend Dr Jimmy Dube, in August 2017 at celebrations to mark the church’s 40 years of autonomous mission in the country, as he cautioned against being euphoric and over-excited after the celebrations.
Rev Dube said bank queues would still be there after the MCZ celebrations; that the 90% unemployment rate would not disappear just like that; that people should be both prayerful and practical; that they would always face worldly troubles; that they should not be lured into a false sense of security by mushrooming churches promising heaven on earth. That they should take personal responsibility for their lives, not leave it or outsource it to lying politicians and get-rich-quick “prophets”. What a teacher of truth!
The truth is always prophetic because it comes to pass. This applies even more so currently as all sorts of fantastical election promises are being made to voters.
Dr Dube’s observation further ties in with a recent positive story of taking individual initiative and personal responsibility for one’s life. Tawanda Mbawara, a 36-year-old entrepreneur and socialite, was featured in the April 13, 2018 issue of H-Metro, a local tabloid.
His story is quite inspiring and uplifting for those who care to see further than the politics of the day.
Mbawara, also known as The Chief, abandoned a prestigious career as a researcher with Amnesty International to venture into farming (animal husbandry), music and entertainment promotion.
Mbawara, asked why he had ventured into piggery despite being a holder of Law and International Relations degrees from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, replied: “Education is nice because it broadens your scope and horizons, but it becomes meaningless when you are educated, but not following your passion . . . There is a lot of potential in the agriculture industry because we are an agro-based industry.”
And for those youths who have been conditioned to be in a permanent crisis mode and laugh at and ridicule any and all moves by the government of the day, here is some free advice from Mbawara: “People are of the view that there is a crisis in the agriculture sector since the land reclamation exercise, but when there is that crisis, there are many opportunities that come along . . . If people say there is a crisis in the agriculture sector, they should act up and fill that void.”
But too many of the youths spend their times getting drunk in pubs criticising land reform and laughing approvingly at United States President Donald Trump’s insulting depiction of Africa as a “shithole” continent instead of getting down to sorting their lives on farms and elsewhere.
No one is suggesting that the dark history over land should be swept under the carpet. Government “could (throw light) on the Zimbabwe land question by providing its history objectively, but also tackle aspects of the violent nature associated with the land question honestly and truthfully, as a strategy to minimise stereotyping in the Western world”, writes branding expert Dr Musekiwa C Tapera in a most erudite, insightful and illuminating observation devoid of the now banal and barren outcries over a fait accompli.
The danger is that Zimbabwean youths have become blinded by these Western stereotypes and fail to take land as an opportunity to build upon.
It should be acknowledged that because there are no social networks in place to keep the young people active and engaged in their poverty-stricken communities, it’s all too easy for them to fall in with the wrong crowd — wrong crowd being a group of people, typically peers, who partake in and trigger immoral, criminal and/or dangerous behaviour and attitudes.
But, again Mbawara is not defeatist like too many of our youths today.
Observed Mbawara: “People say they fail to make it in high-density suburbs, blaming drugs and beer, but that is not the case. I grew up in Mbare . . . Now I am in Mufakose . . (but) people do not know that the ghetto is the University of Life. One can make something useful and huge while in the ghetto, they must be disciplined.”
My own diagnosis — as an amateur psychologist of sorts — is that too many of Zimbabwean youths are victims of “splitting” — also called black-and-white thinking or all-or-nothing thinking.
Splitting is defined as “the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defensive mechanism used by many people” — not Mbawara.
Continued Mbawara: “There is no relationship . . . between what I learnt (academically) and what I am doing right now, just the appreciation of grasping some concepts.” No wonder that genius of geniuses, Albert Einstein — who was an astonishingly clear communicator and never used complex terms where simple ones would do, always explaining his ideas straightforwardly and simply — said: “Education is what remains after you have forgotten all you learnt at school.”
Yes, education can be regarded as an enabler, a stepping stone into other avenues and vistas.
Einstein meant that the core value of education is not in the subjects taught, but in the learning of mental skills — the acquisition of the ability to think well. Which is what many of today’s directionless youths can learn from Mbawara instead of loitering outside political party offices displaying empty bravado and getting kicks out of having attended rallies like useful idiots — a useful idiot being a person perceived as a propagandist for a cause the goals of which they are not fully aware, and who is used cynically by the leaders of the cause.
Youths, free yourself from useful idiocy — start living!
lConway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org