A family friend we miss with so much deep affection and fondness, the late legal practitioner George Chikumbirike, whilst talking about black people, once remarked that because many blacks are relatively new to money and lack a clear understanding of how the monetary system works, greed bedevils them and “for $1, a person will enslave and sell their domestic worker; for $20, they will sell, betray and sell out a close friend; for $30, they will put their grandparents on auction; for $60, that dear cousin would be sold too. As for parents they will be sacrificed at $70. Their very own child will be sold at $85 and for the $100 greenback that person will sell themselves!”
By GLORia NDORO-MKOMBACHOTO
A brilliant and hardworking lawyer who got many out of sticky situations, George was a disruptive thinker and a thought leader. At the time this conversation took place more than 30 years ago, we laughed out loud at this metaphor because we thought it was an over-dramatisation of his experiences. It was not. Time, the formidable revealer, has since unveiled to us that George’s observations were not an exaggeration.
The ones who run with the hares and hunt with the lions
These are many hypocrites and two-timing, black-eyed maggots that live among us. They can be our trusted family members and even close friends. They can be among those we go to church with, colleagues at work and even neighbours. The one you allow into your home, make a cup of tea or coffee for, is the one who wields the power and capacity to betray you.
The death of MaWinnie Nomzamo Madikizela–Mandela on April 2, 2018 has laid bare shocking truths about the onslaught, brutal attacks, dehumanising forays that the enemy metted on her. Now it is abundantly clear that her enemies were both within the apartheid architects and its beneficiaries and the African National Congress (ANC).
Writing on April 3, 2018, Charlene Smith, the award-winning Boston-based South African writer and journalist, in an article that went viral worldwide, to a point where she started receiving online death threats, is an anecdote of part of some of the dreadfulness MaWinnie had to endure:
“…Winnie was banished to a dusty village, Brandfort, hundreds of miles from her Soweto home, and that, and an incident in 1969 broke her. In 1969, the security branch came to her Soweto home at 3am. She was alone with her daughters, aged 10 and nine. Winnie asked to fetch her sister, one street up, so the girls would not be alone. The police refused, she was taken and her children left alone.
“She spent 18 months in solitary confinement, naked, not allowed to wash, and not allowed out for exercises. She did not know what had become of her girls. When she would speak of this with me, her whole countenance would change. She was not allowed sanitary towels when she had periods, nor water or cloths to clean, and so the blood caked on her. She made friends with cockroaches. I’ve been in the cell at the Old Fort that she was held in. It is narrow with high, thick walls, it is oppressively dark when the door is closed, as it was for 18 months.
“I believe she experienced profound post-traumatic stress. It was never treated, instead; she was expelled to Brandfort…”
What is known now is that, the ANC, the ANC Women’s league, Nelson Mandela, the Mandela football club, many trusted journalists, the Mandela family elders and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission all in the end, acted in one form or another to betray and abandon her.
Like all members of the human race, MaWinnie was no perfect heroine. There are no perfect heroines or heroes. Everyone is flawed to different degrees. We like to conveniently forget that the human condition can be menacing in its complexity so we try to force a square peg in a round hole. Why do we refuse to accept that often, light resides with darkness, goodness can co-exist in one person with evil, empathy, MaWinnie’s best trait can inhabit in one together with indifference. Indeed, vulnerability can be the fuel that gives one strength and determination to cope within a brutal system like apartheid, defiance being the only way, for compliance would not have yielded desired results, but led to emotional suicide.
We can be both good and no to so good. It is called being human. It’s the frailty that comes with the human condition. That is why we seek forgiveness from God every day for our transgressions in deeds, speech and even thought. We need to have mercy and empathy for MaWinnie, for we will never know the trauma and brokenness that she endured. The ultimate betrayal and abandonment of MaWinnie by the most closest to her mirrors Chikumbirike’s metaphor above. In Zimbabwe Inc we are no different.
Why are some struggle stalwarts in Zimbabwe Inc betraying the people?
Next week Zimbabwe Inc. is celebrating 38 years of independence. At independence, those who were perhaps seven years and below, were too young to go to war (in other parts of Africa, above seven-year-old children are at war). Those turning 38 years this year and below were either not yet born, or were a few months old. It was not a matter of choice. Most likely their parents had not even met. So why do we have a narrative in Zimbabwe Inc political circles that glorifies and entitles only war veterans to meaningful political office? Was the price and sacrifice made for political and economic freedom for struggle stalwarts only? What about our rural folk who fed, housed and hid the freedom fighters during that bloody war of liberation? Where are their accolades?
A certain generation had to fight the war of liberation for the benefit of the nation and holding the whole country to ransom smacks of betrayal, greed, selfishness, desertion and neglect. Our youths are desperate. Zimbabwe Inc has finally succeeded in creating its lost generation who are unable to utilise their levels of skills or education. They have no jobs and there is no enabling environment for them to start and run viable businesses.
It is cold comfort to be part of the power elite living lives of conspicuous consumption and primitive accumulation when the majority of the nation are in dire straits. True selflessness and being sincere struggle stalwarts is not represented by having a sense of entitlement, busy demanding rewards, benefits and freebies in the post-colonial state.
What I have come to refer to as the “chicken burger” generation, my generation, those between 45 years and 65 years sandwiched between our parents and our children in terms of economic support to both groups, are equally stranded. The chicken burger generation worked hard and many succeeded through their education and entrepreneurship. They built up wealth and educated their children. But many find themselves flat broke failing to afford medical aid for looming old age illnesses. Real US$ were stolen from their bank accounts and replaced with bond notes, a non-tradable wanna-be currency of sorts. Their parents who depend on them die or suffer in silence.
The investment in the education of the chicken burger generation’s children has come to naught. Robert T. Kiyosaki in Second Chance: for your Money, your Life and our World, argues that, “without real life work experience in their 20s and 30s, their earning power and income in later years will suffer…” because they are wasting time on the streets either selling airtime or being vendors of dumped textiles from the first world. It is blood, sweat and tears. For the first time in Zimbabwe Inc we are witnessing many of our children’s children in both urban and rural areas failing to attend school because of poverty, inequality and disease.
The noise of the private sector is deafening by its silence
Where are our captains of industry to talk truth to power? Have they sold themselves out for a mere $100 note? Or is it because the powers-that-be have reduced them to being praise-singers, cheerleading for what they do not even believe in? If that is the reason, then I will give you unsolicited advice by asking you to consider taking a leaf out of the life of MaWinnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela and not be softened and bought by a few pieces of silver. You are not for sale. Interrogate your value system and ask yourself how you would like to be remembered. Ask yourself what legacy you are leaving behind. Answers to these questions will inform whether or not you will take the high road like MaWinnie or the low road, like those who are solely responsible for the ruins that Zimbabwe Inc is now.
It is not yet Uhuru!