Zimbabwe @39

Guest Column: Grace Chirenje

I AM a mother of two adorable children who keep me doubting my sanity with each encounter. This doesn’t mean they are bad kids, not at all! It is the whole aspect of exploring what it means to build a healthy parent-child relationship. Now, I can share with you my pregnancy experience with each one of them; what I hoped as a mother, what I anticipated and how I felt it was a whole journey and still is as I manoeuvre and chant parenthood, but motherhood to be precise.

Now, at no one point did I ever pause to think the worst of my experience and journey. I always keep the hope alive and daring. Sometimes, it is tough and at others, it is as easy as swallowing water. As I thought of this journey, I was reminded of Zimbabwe turning 39 years. What sought of baby do we have here? There is quite a lot of work to do at personal level and collectively for us to experience Zimbabwe as an exuberant country that it is. The people who worked so hard to ensure this country got liberated did not do it, so they stand by and watch the same country waste away. We each have a civic duty to ensure Zimbabwe @39 is as amazing as can possibly be. Mothers don’t want their children to be wayward. We do what we can to ensure children’s lives become healthy at each stage, the same applies for Zimbabwe.

Pre-independence

I can imagine what those who lived before April 18, 1980 experienced. I can only imagine because I wasn’t even there to experience it for myself. I have, however, heard the stories. I will not focus on the racism and atrocities. I want to focus on the hopes and aspirations. Many of my brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, fathers and mothers who were old enough to join the Chimurenga, did so with all their hearts.

They believed that a better Zimbabwe was possible. They wanted to experience better things. They needed to see better. They believed in the possibilities of collective dreams where everyone would enjoy Zimbabwe for the motherland she is. Was it scary? Well, it must have been. I am certain that stories made their way back to communities of how people were dying, selling out and going through all sorts of negativities for Zimbabwe to one day become a place where the colour of one’s skin meant nothing in order to enjoy universal freedoms. It must have been so inspirational, so encouraging and super exciting for each person as they envisioned what was to come. That is exactly what gave them the courage to keep pushing and going. The likes of (former President Robert) Mugabes of this world to keep leading collectively alongside the (former Vice-President Joice) Mujurus. It was just like an expectant mother, all those times. It gets uncomfortable, achy and nauseous. The hope is that one day, the baby will be born, and all this will be left behind. Phenomenal, isn’t it? What then happens when we must defer a dream?

A dream deferred

Zimbabwe is a dream deferred. Each one of us has a dream and a hope. We each carry what we think is best for Zimbabwe, unless you are a saboteur. The truth is what those amazing people went to war for those decades ago, is not what is happening now. I will not bore you with the narrative of what we are going through; we all know it, so let’s save that for the naysayers. What I think is critical for us is affirming that Zimbabwe is a beautiful country. She is amazing. From the majestic mountains in the Eastern Highlands to the raging rapids of the Victoria Falls, from the scotching heat of Beitbridge to the valleys of our borders with Mozambique, we have been through so much as a people. But I do recall we have stepped out so many times to hold hands for the greater good, like we did for Cyclone Idai.

Yes, we are not there as we struggle daily with our choices after November 17, 2017. However, we are here, hustling each day to make sure that we each make ends meet and ensure that Zimbabwe is restored as the breadbasket of Africa. We yearn for things that our mouths can no longer sensualise. It is life. Will it come today, tomorrow, next year, or in 10 years? No one knows, but what we are certain of is that no one can stand in the way of a great idea whose time has come. We can never, ever, see things crumble worse than they have. We may not experience what we so desperately desire and need. But guess what? Our time will come.

Our dream is not dead. Zimbabwe, we shall overcome one day and realise what we so wish for. Yes, it will come to pass. A time will come when leaders will care so much about meeting the needs of their people. This will be a time when water will be plenty, the same for electricity or roads or whatever it is, we desire. Prices will be stable and everyone, except the morons of course, will drive safely and preserve lives. It is a dream merely deferred. Just like an expectant mother will one day forget the pains and pangs of pregnancy and celebrate the birth of her child.

@39

Now, we are in a fallen and dysfunctional world. Things do go wrong just like children sometimes make us doubt our sanity. We go to war and fight for liberation that never becomes and we birth, socialise children who talk back at us or make certain choices that break our hearts. Zimbabwe is like that now. It is like a delinquent child who no one wants to talk about, mention, point or call out. Everyone is just seated there uncomfortable at what this child Zimbabwe is doing.

Maybe, it is not the child. It is those that are socialising the child. Leadership has become such a rare phenomenon. People are choosing to focus on them and them alone, forgetting that whatever each one of us is going through, either way, we are a part of the narrative. For Zimbabwe @39 to make sense, we each need to decide. Yes, the world is not necessarily transformed by what we choose to transform at a micro-level, but I do believe that this will greatly contribute to the macro-environment. We can never give what we do not have. Once our socialisation spaces — homes, schools and churches, will choose to hold hands and decide to support the development of a holistic approach to socialisation; this could help even our leaders who seem to be struggling with what to do with Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is stalling. For a 39-year-old, seriously, this cannot be our narrative. This retardation needs to end. You and me can hold hands to end it. We shall decide never to keep quiet in the face of injustice and normalise the abnormal. We always, always choose what is good for each one of us and the greater good too. With each encounter, we call out bad behaviour and practices. We shall call out retailers who abuse customers by overpricing; we shall stand against governments which choose to fleece us of our hard-earned cash because they think we are the new cash cow. It is terrible. That money, where it goes, only the powers-that-be know.

Now is the time that we start planning for life that ought to begin @40. What are our national values and goals? No one is coming to save Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is that child we each need to bring an item so that it is healed from its past trauma and begins to reintegrate in society. When I look at my children and they have erred, and I have had to discipline them.

It hurts both ways, but a mother must do what a mother must do. Zimbabwe needs us to become better for Zimbabwe. She is a beautiful country endowed with so much beauty. We have enough of what we need and should not be wallowing in poverty. In our small little corners, let us decide what makes sense for us so we make a difference and make this country what it ought to be.

Starting with the leaders at all levels. It is possible to celebrate a healthier and more progressive society next year. It is possible. Let’s do this!

 Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje is a feminist activist with vast experience in feminist leadership and youth empowerment. She writes in her personal capacity. Follow her on Twitter: @graceruvimbo, Facebook: Grace Chirenje and Instagram: @graceruvimbo