I grew up hearing about the atrocities perpetrated against our fathers and mothers in Matabeleland that became known widely as the Gukurahundi massacres. As I grew older, I researched more on this and the details of how this was orchestrated left me with a bitter taste in the mouth.
It made me realise how the tables had turned: how in place of the colonisers, we now had a new breed of oppressors — fellow Zimbabweans who were so power-hungry they would stop at nothing to ruthlessly do away with all opposition.
This is the reason why most of our people in Matabeleland find they cannot help but harbour grudges against virtually all Shonas — something I absolutely fail to understand.
I am a Karanga from Masvingo who happens to have a deep love for Matabeleland. I spent the major part of my school years in Matabeleland where I attended my A-Level and university and I can honestly say not once did I experience xenophobia of any sort. Instead, I received a lot of love and made a lot of Ndebele friends. I was very much at home in Bulawayo which today remains my favourite part of the country.
It then bothers me when I hear of groups such as the newly established Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) with its highly militant approach and its rather reckless utterances.
The Zimbabwe Mail, an online news agency, reported the party’s secretary David Magagula as saying they are on a campaign to stop the Shona migration into Matabeleland, which he revealed is the main reason why they launched their party.
Such formations will only serve to create further divisions between the people of Zimbabwe at a time when unity of purpose should be our main goal.
There are also calls to establish Matabeleland as an autonomous state, sentiments that are divisive and likely to further fuel separatist ideas.
What people should remember is that people of Zimbabwe, regardless of where they are from, have all been subjected to the full wrath of Zanu PF’s reign of terror. Have we forgotten the violent 2008 presidential elections when countless numbers, especially in the Mashonaland provinces, were severely tortured resulting in loss of life in most cases?
The truth of the matter is that as Zimbabweans, we have much more in common than we realise and it would be in our best interest if we could come together and become one people, accepting and celebrating our diversity. We should all be sharing ideas on how to achieve the change that we crave.
To all the Ndebeles, I say it is not the Shonas that are your enemies because most of us find ourselves in the same predicament that you find yourselves in. The real enemy is our governance that continually lets all of us down and has clearly failed to live up to our expectations. Let us not point daggers at each other but instead, let us fight the common enemy.