It does not seem that long ago when I grew up and worked in a country whose deepest pride was not just its world-acclaimed Victoria Falls, its Big Five and awesome wilderness experience, its intriguing balancing rocks of Matobo or that panoramic rolling mountain splendour of Inyanga. Some of the most memorable of my greening years, I thank God, went to the glorious adventure of unveiling the stunning gems of my country to droves of awe-stricken globe-trotters, “vazungus” from here, there and the world over.
Proudly, in hard copy as in my heart, I still carry their “thank you” notes and exit interviews, 25 years later . . . and invariably the tourists from Europe, the Scandinavia, the Americas and elsewhere were most stunned, most moved, and most overwhelmed, not by our natural wonders per se, but more by our human wonder. It was always the unequalled humanity, the warm, authentic hospitality and the unerring Zimbabwean smile that etched indelible warm thoughts in all their travelling hearts.
Evaluations of visitors to our country were replete with glowing affirmations of the spirit of our humanness, our spontaneous camaraderie, an unrehearsed collective desire to do well with each other and for our country. From the taxi-driver to the curio-vendor, from the tour guides, hotel managers to the rural herd-boys, the unmistakable sense of cheer, honesty, pursuit of hard work and excellence and the humbling dignity remained our defining beacon, the distinguishing signature of Zimbabwe as one of Africa’s choicest tourist destinations. What happened?
Some analyst suggested the other day, that the unique human quality and competence of our tourism lost its shine and glow when, at some point, the legendary conflation of party and government mandates saw Zanu PF reduce what was an illustrious, inclusive and globally competitive public industry into some glorified retirement home for disused , moribund ambassadors and a ring-fenced play centre and cash-cow of the ruling party. But that’s a story for another day. My newfound buddy and young agriculturalist, Simba suggested to me that the new generation needs a complete reality check and reorientation of personal mission and programmatic mentoring and motivation for the nation to leap to the next level of growth and development.
When invited to inspire young tourism executives and to re-ignite the fast dying humanist spirit of Ubuntu and positive willpower in our declining industry, I found motivational author, Don Maguel Ruis’ Four Agreements as great a starting point as any.
Be impeccable with your word
Honour and integrity are the absolute moral imperatives that are in serious danger of extinction in our society. Outright lies, economy with the truth and general dishonest conduct at a personal and institutional level and in august leadership discourse has been allowed to routinely replace basic good manners, just and fair conduct and… “moral fibre of our society is broken” has been repeated and embraced like some enviable love bug! Effective moral regeneration calls for every level of socialisation of our children to invest in consciously de-learning and relearning the children to:
- Speak and act with integrity, with or without an obvious audience;
- Say only what one means and desist from impressionist grandstanding;
- Use the power of one’s word only in aid of the truth, love and public goodwill and never in slander, cheap gossip or against one’s own kindred;
Always do your very best
Lethargy, mediocrity and a general national tolerance of faint effort, limping passion and unconvinced hunger and desire for earned success is a damning cancer and creepy affliction of Zimbabwean society. The unequalled industry and robust competence, conventionally associated with our human capital is no longer fact. To revive that nationwide workaholic culture and industrial vava voom, conscious grooming for excellence and nurturing of that go-getter appetite for relentless achievement, self- challenge and personal goal-setting for young people is a none-negotiable – Youth must know:
- Their destiny is in their own hands and only they define their own current and future realities;
- Failure is their greatest teacher and the only peer that never fails is the laggard that never tries;
- Never to accept contentment with past achievements, but to ever scale higher, to challenge their capacities and challenge their realities, to confront newer and newer frontiers of adventure, research and discovery;
- No one who has applied themselves and given the best of themselves can ever be deemed to have failed in any endeavour;
- In spite of the trying circumstances of their country, smart youth shall distinguish themselves from the perennial moaners by deliberately searching for their preferred niche, applying their minds and energies fully to their chosen fields; giving their best and avoiding self-judgement, peer validation, procrastination, self-abuse and abuse by selfish adults and regret.
Don’t make assumptions, ask
Simba is a vibrant A2 farmer from Mashonaland East. In the one hour I spent on a money queue, I never met a hungrier, more inquisitive, more ambitious, more demanding appetite for knowledge — general, technical, specific and otherwise about everything in one young fella. The fact that he didn’t know me, never held him back from asking everything there is to know about me, my work, about Bulawayo, its opportunities and my worldview, and specifically how his and my world can meet, network and iron sharpen iron!
- Find the courage to ask questions and to assert yourself and express what you want;
l Misunderstandings, conflict, misconceptions innuendo and unnecessary drama and hurtful thoughts arise only from lack of rapport and ineffective communication with those around you;
- Free your mind. Master effective communication and you may completely transform yourself and your sphere.
Nothing is personal
It is not uncommon, in our rather unforgiving rat-race of an economy, so fraught with social competition for stuff, validation wars, suspicions and counter-suspicion that one gets so engrossed and consumed with self to the point of blinding their own progress.
It is vainglorious, immature, self-draining and destructive to always feel a compelling necessity to check over one’s shoulder because you think what others do or say is about you.
In reality, even when its about you, what others do and say, is a projection of their own reality and their own dreams, not yours!
Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, but it is when you train yourself to be immune to those of the opinions and actions of others that are negative, that you cease to be a victim of wanton scorn and needless personal bashing.
Zii Masiye (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes elsewhere on social media as Balancing Rocks.