‘Let’s Not Fight Zanu-PF On Cultural and Religious Matters’
Zimbabwe has a myriad of problems afflicting her soul that has brought untold suffering to the majority of her citizens. The challenges impacting our nation are real and are enormous.
By Zim First President, Maxwell Zeb Shumba Rusike
They need a focused and apt national leadership to solve them. There is no dispute that the author of our problems is none other than ZANU PF and such as such, as opposition we need clarity on the challenges we are fighting against when we confront the ZANU PF regime.
Desecrating our traditional value system and insulting our cultural heritage should not be part of our struggle against the ZANU PF regime.
It is well documented that Zimbabwe is a nation rich in African traditions whose context can only be accurately explained from an African perspective and appropriately by using indigenous languages.
Zimbabweans just like any other nationalities are and rightly should be proud of their rich African heritage which is non-partisan.
Foreigners flock to Zimbabwe to learn about our traditional music and other traditional practices. We should be able to leverage its value the same way Jamaicans benefit from reggae music.
In fact, some Western Universities teach Shona culture and Shona sculpture which graces many international public places, notably, the famous Zimbabwean sculptures at the Atlanta Airport in the USA.
In this regard, we should, by all means, endeavor to educate the world about our rich culture be it Ndebele, Tonga, Shona, Nyambiya et al, instead of shunning it based on other peoples’ teachings or beliefs systems.
For example, in our tradition, we honor the dead through a special process that is different from other cultures. Unadulterated this makes us descendants of a unique culture that stands firm and tall among other cultures and should not be denigrated let alone by its own sons and daughters.
Thence, no other people, culture, or religion should tell us that our practices are occult. In fact, seen by outsiders, all cultures are occult but that perception does not make them fact occult, evil or sub-human.
It simply means that the outsider does not understand the inner soul of that culture and should not be taken seriously. For example, the act of honoring the dead.
In our rich culture, the dead are honored in a special and specific process that acknowledges that spirits of the dead live among us and deserve respect and our wishes that that are peaceful. Other cultures have a similar belief system, albeit with different interpretations and practices.
Related to this discussion, this week saw the ZANU PF government erecting a statue of Mbuya Charwe in honor of the medium of the Spirit Nehanda Nyakasikana, a revered spirit of the Zimbabwean people.
The heroic feats of Spirit Medium Mbuya (Grandmother) Charwe during the first Chimurenga against the settlers are well documented. She was a gallant fighter, acknowledged guiding spirit medium, and daughter of the soil as she is referred to in the Shona tradition.
Therefore, from the Shona cultural perspective, honoring her in any shape or form is the right thing to do and we agree it is proper although we vehemently disagree with the manner it was done. Mbuya Charwe was and will it be ZANU PF.
We, however, honor her memory and attest that her heroics were of paramount importance to the liberation of Zimbabwe. Her spirit was a guiding spirit and continues to live amongst us, years after her departure.
Thus a statue erected in her memory is not a bad idea. In fact, Zimbabwe needs more statues for its other genuine national heroes (not only the undeserving ZANU PF heroes and heroines we read in national papers.
Back to Mbuya Nehanda it is important to remind the nation of the words she uttered before being hanged by the settlers on the first Chimurenga; “My bones shall rise again” she stated.
The bones indeed rose against the UDI regime and true to her words she became one of the guiding spirits of the second Chimurenga that brought independence and they will rise against the ZANU PF government despite them erecting her statue (albeit in a fraudulent ceremony).
Her bones will rise again, this time against this ZANU PF regime the Zimbabwean children are crying shedding tears every day in the dilapidated streets of our country, impoverished neighborhoods of our cities, in the villages that have become worse than before independence, and in the diaspora where they toil every day thinking of why the war of independence was fought in the first place.
The tears shall it go in vain. The tide is on the side of opposition forces because the spirits of our country including that of Mbuya Nehanda cannot be fooled by ZANU PF political antics.
Therefore, the furor from opposition ranks, railing against Nehanda, and the erection of a statue in memory of the medium as an occult practice or ritual are uncalled for. Opposition cannot win on issues that pit us against the people’s culture. It is a no-win situation, period.
The majority of Zimbabweans across the country respect their culture and fighting it will alienate the opposition from the majority who happen to reside in rural areas where cultural activities are held in reverence. It would have been proper for the opposition activists to articulate in a mature way what they disagreed on in that process without insulting the name of Mbuya Nehanda.
Instead of desecrating our cultural values in the name of fighting ZANU-PF, we should be fighting the regime on issues of substance; which are corruption; bad governance; persecution of citizens through arbitrary arrests, and electoral reform. This is where we need to be laser-focused.
When ZANU is defeated the nation can then collectively fix all the things ZANU PF broke, from infrastructure, health, agriculture, education, industry, and social norms including the process that saw them misappropriate Nehanda as a ZANU PF spirit medium as their own as they do with everything Zimbabwean.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that we should not fight ZANU PF on issues of culture and religion and we should endeavor to educate the young on our cultural value system because this education we will so be like a tree with no roots.
Fighting ZANU PF on cultural issues is a no-win situation for the opposition. For now, let the battles be on the issues highlighted above.
Nyika Vanhu, Vanhu Ndiyo Nyika,Abantu Lilizwe, Ilizwe Ngabantu, Cisi Mbantu., Bantu Ncisi, Inyika Banhu, Banhu ndiyo Inyika, Chalo ni Bantu, Bantu ni Chalo. Country First, People First, ZimbabweFirst.
The President’s Office.