By Tendai Ruben Mbofana
ON Thursday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched his biography, which was written by former MDC MP and a member of his Presidential Advisory Council Eddie Cross.
Matakadya kare haanyaradzi pwere is a Shona adage which loosely translated would mean that a wailing hungry baby cannot be placated by the food he ate a long time ago. I always think of whenever our leaders launch a book glorifying their liberation struggle exploits of more than 40 years ago.
I find myself wondering whether this newfound craze is merely motivated by a genuine desire to capture and document the history of our country — more specifically, their own role — or is there some other reason.
Are we ever going to see these same leaders publishing books highlighting their successes over the 40 years that they have been in the corridors of power?
Do they have anything to write home about their post-liberation struggle years at the helm of a post-independence Zimbabwe?
As the Shona adage at the beginning of this article alludes to — a wailing hungry baby cannot be placated by the food he ate a long time ago.
In other words, a failed leader cannot hope to gloss over his shameful misgovernance and incompetence of the recent past, by evoking exploits and successes achieved over four decades ago. It simply does not work that way.
If these Zimbabwean leaders truly wanted to immortalise their glorious days, they would not have limited their achievements to fighting in the 1970s liberation struggle, their persecution, arrest and jailing at the hands of the colonial regime and their subsequent unflinching bravery, regardless of the challenges, leading to Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.
They should have proceeded to tell us all of what precisely they achieved in a post-independence Zimbabwe and showing us just how much and what they have accomplished for the ordinary citizenry.
That is the book I eagerly look forward to and will definitely buy.
Having spent an average 15 years dodging Rhodesian bullets, missing the hanging gallows by a whisker and playing a gallant role in fighting for an independent Zimbabwe — these same individuals proceeded to spend the next 40 years plundering resources of that same country they fought for driving it straight into the abyss of poverty and suffering for the masses, and reviving similar repressive tactics they themselves endured under colonial Rhodesia on the defenceless majority.
What were the objectives of that life of sacrifice?
Was it in order to enrich and empower only those who would have done the sacrificing?
But, then, that would be untrue — since those who did most of the actual fighting on the ground (who faced off with the enemy on the front, were shot at, and their limbs blown off by landmines) still wallow in abject poverty 40 years after their most courageous true sacrifice, and find themselves surviving on handouts from those who now want to steal the liberation struggle glory from the real heroes.
Indeed, those are the people I would rather read their books — and, would even be highly honoured, humbled, and prepared to assist them (as much as I can) write and publish their stories.
If anything, the only thing the ever-suffering and oppressed people of Zimbabwe can learn from these self-extolling books by the privileged opulent ruling elite is that, what they (and, the majority) endured during that time, at the hands of the Rhodesia regime, is exactly what is being repeated today, under the same people who claim to have had a life of sacrifice.
These books expose the source of the post-independence Zimbabwe regime’s cruelty and barbarity — as they are merely copying and pasting what they themselves went through during the Rhodesia years, and unleashing the same mercilessness and savagery on ordinary Zimbabweans.
However, what we can also learn from these books is that, evil — no matter how it is packaged, delivered, and how cruel — should never be permitted to flourish, or be tolerated, but be faced without any fear, regardless of what the oppressor may throw at us.
My prayer is that, the thousands and thousands of books that are bought will serve as an inspiration to all Zimbabweans that evil can be defeated.
At the same time, let those in power in Zimbabwe know that, irrespective of their past gallantry, the unimaginable suffering that they have caused (and are causing) the people, can never be whitewashed away by some past glory.
They will be held accountable for their brazen looting of our national resources, and the impoverishment and subjugation of every man, woman, and child in this country.