Re-imagining the workplace: Recreational imperialism is a weevil we must put Gamatox on Mr President

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Mr President, in South Africa there is a gentleman called Good Enough Sithole. He is funny and supports Pirates FC. He is funny like you and freely breaks the English language into pieces with reckless abandon. Well, the part about the English Language you do not do and it’s not an issue really. You can watch him here.

He likes it for the Pirates and tells the interviewer that Pirates is not about one skipper, but about five skippers. He says ‘you must show me, you must somebody and those peoples must…I love Good Enough because he is an undying supporter of a team in his own country.

What is saddening Mr President is that your people Zimbabwe go to South Africa to disturb Good Enough in his support for his team, Pirates. Why? I do not understand why a whole people would hate their own team and want to support teams that belong to another country. I have never come across a South African who is a staunch supporter of a Zimbabwean team. I do not even think they know about us. Maybe they just know you Mr President and call you Mungangagwa.

My point here Mr President is that we like eating from the neighbour’s plate. Our people are not proud of their own home and what their own home has to offer. This is sad. We are loose canons with no fixed aboard. We are a people with no pride. This country needs pride, and a denser collective identity and leadership needs to lead in that direction.

The sporting and arts fraternities are a serious workplace for many and the process of doing this is what creates culture.

In Matabeleland, our people also just play imported music. The Soul Brothers are bigger in Zimbabwe than Jeys Marabini, the musician you went to see when he was not feeling well. Some think this is not a problem at all. They even defend their lack of pride and want to say that the pull they experience towards foreign sports and arts is because there is no quality in Zimbabwe. Really?

Who is responsible for improving the quality of things in Zimbabwe? So, we should wait for quality to improve itself and then come running back home? That does not make sense. Imagine a poor home with a man and a woman who cannot provide for their families fully and you have the whole family boycotting their home to go and eat at the neighbours.’ They do not only eat but even praise the neighbours cooking and criticise their own.

What happens to the pride and honour of the kids of that home is that it is depleted, and they will never know who they are. A friend on Facebook had this to say in his comment to my letter to you. ‘When it comes to Arsenal and being a willing consumer of the products of recreational imperialism, I am guilty as charged.

Me thinks creating value by mentioning is a low-cost high impact strategy but requires more concrete investments in institutional excellence and success. It's hard to follow mediocrity and failure. 

He says it’s hard to follow mediocrity and failure. I failed to understand his school of that and had this to say to him. ‘You are making a lot of sense. Don't you think though that the issue of institutional excellence and success vs your own participation is a chicken and egg matter?

Also, the issue of one's identity and association with their own institutions, should it not be about commitment because it is yours? Don't you think that we are participating in the death of our collective identity and promoting the culture and commercial success of other groups? Our former colonizer for that matter.’ But he retorted…’

Participation and excellence is a chicken and egg issue. But you are aware I know that participating in local institutions is complicated and messy. Those who are apathetic recognise that their ideas or talents are dismissed and ridiculed. Perhaps you and I need a voice call on this.

This is the sense of disenfranchisement I spoke about last week. The absence of that sense of belonging which needs leadership to be achieved. I believe it can be done by you and your cultural technocrats.

A culture can be influenced and a people’s attitude towards something can be influenced too by the way leadership craft and orchestrate their activities and interactions. Why are we leaving things to chance? When people lose that sense of belonging and pride, it means that we are careless about the way our attitudes and cultures unfold.

We need to work hard to invite the hearts of our people back to our country. You and a lot of our fathers and leaders went to war to fight not just for power but for our lives to make sense. We need to put our heads and hands together to fix this.

Another Facebook friend had this to say: “I get the concept. Good article. However, it left me feeling there’s bigger issues to be addressed than this. And it feels too apologetic in its conversation with power.

I know you can't commit professional and physical suicide though, so you're excused. The first mistake he makes is that in addressing you I had to be careful not to commit professional and physical suicide. He thinks I am afraid of you Mr President. Let me be clear with you, I am not afraid of you Mr President. I do respect you and it is my village background that put me in that position but as for being afraid of you, No Mr President, I am not. Do you want me to be afraid of you? I hope not, because then I cannot address you on these important issues. He wanted me to be abrasive and hard on power. He calls you power. Well, I do not view you as power, but as leadership.

As a citizen of Zimbabwe, I also do not want to view anyone as ruling. This whole talk about ruling parties and opposition parties is bad Mr President. I hope future generations can change this and do away with such phrases as ruling party and replace them with leadership or just government and such phases as opposition party and replace them with better ones such as participating party.

One disappointing thing about this Facebook friend’s response is that he thinks this is not that important, that the issue of what I call recreational imperialism can wait.

How do we even allow such a weevil to exist? It is interesting that there is anyone who thinks like that. My concern Mr. President is that maybe you share the same sentiments, that this is not important. It is of paramount importance in my opinion. We need a thriving sports and arts sector and want our pride to live.

*Bhekilizwe Bernard Ndlovu’s training is in human resources training, development and transformation, behavioural change, applied drama, personal mastery and mental fitness. He works for a Zimbabwean company as human capital executive, while also doing a PhD with Wits University where he looks at violent strikes in the South African workplace as a researcher. Ndlovu worked as a human resources manager for several blue-chip companies in Zimbabwe and still takes keen interest in the affairs of people and performance management. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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