EDITORIAL COMMENT: From Chief Mapondera to Cuthbert Dube

Zimbabwe is trapped in history. This is a favourite claim of those who say President Mugabe’s government and governance are needlessly anchored in liberation ideology 35 years after the attainment of Independence. The chorus of censure in such intellectual dishonesty and academic voodoo is led by African “liberals” and “progressives”.

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We call it dishonest and voodoo because these same people admire how the Americans are steeped in their founding fathers’ beliefs and how Europeans religiously mark VE Day every year without fail.
\nBut history is the battleground on which nations live or die.

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Hegel, whose thinking influences Europe up to today, knew this. Consider this, taken from his 1830-1831 lectures: “The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state.

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“We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality — all that we call feeling — if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character…

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“At this point we leave Africa, not to mention it again. For it is no historical part of the world; it has no movement or development to exhibit.”
\nHugh Trevor-Roper, in 1963, was to expound on this saying: “Nowadays, undergraduates demand that they should be taught African History. Perhaps in the future there will be some African History to teach.

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“But at the present there is none; there is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness, and darkness is not a subject of history.
\n“Please do not misunderstand me I do not deny that man existed even in dark countries and dark centuries the present world is one that is dominated by European techniques, Europeans examples, and Europeans ideas.

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“It is these which have shaken the non-European world out of its past, out of barbarism in Africa.
\n“The history of the world, for the last five centuries, is so far as it has significance, has been European History.

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“The study of History must therefore be Europe-centric we cannot, thus, afford to amuse ourselves with the unrewarding gyrations of barbarous tribes in picturesque but irrelevant corners of the globe.”

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It is thus not surprising that it is difficult to find much Zimbabwe history for the centuries prior to the 1870s.
\nIt is as if we simply did not exist, as if nothing happened.

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The likes of Aeneas Chigwedere (“From Mutapa to Rhodes: 1000 to 1890 AD”) tried to rectify this through their research, but there are still plenty of holes.

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David Beach also weighed in with the commendable “From Heroism to History: Mapondera and the Northern Zimbabwean Plateau, 1840-1904”, as did Solomon Mutsvairo with “Mapondera: Soldier of Zimbabwe”.

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Chief Kadungure Mapondera (born in the 1840s) declared Independence from the British South Africa Company’s colonisers in 1894 and led an army against the settlers in

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Guruve and Mount Darwin.
\nHe started with just 100 men and these swelled more than five times within a few months.

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Chief Mapondera was captured in 1903 and died in prison after a hunger strike. (The exact date of death is not clear, with different historical accounts placing it between 1904 and 1907.)

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There are many men and women like Chief Mapondera in our history.
\nTheir importance lies in the principles they lived — and died — for.

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It is in these principles that we should learn the history lessons that will make ours a better Zimbabwe for those Zimbabweans who shall come after us.

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Chief Mapondera, the Soldier of Zimbabwe, did what he did so that ours would be better lives.
\nNot for Dr Cuthbert Dube and company to loot millions from Premier Service Medical Aid Society and then waltz off into the sunset to enjoy their spoils, even as Zimbabwe’s healthcare sector cries for funding.

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Yes, Dr Dube was kicked out and changes were brought to PSMAS.
\nBut should it end there?

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Unfortunately, the prosecution of looters, as happened at Air Zimbabwe, is the exception rather than the rule. There are simply no consequences to grand white collar misdeeds.

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As we report elsewhere in The Sunday Mail, Dr Dube and friends paid themselves more than US$20 million in untaxed allowances processed outside the official payroll.

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Surely there is a crime somewhere there. And surely the people of Zimbabwe are not asking for too much when they expect action to be taken.
\nThe lack of consequences makes the actions of the likes of Dr Dube normal. We need a new normal.