Obert Mpofu – Do You Know Zimbabwe History Yourself?
I found laughable today’s statement by Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, as reported by the state broadcaster, in which he urged for the correction of historical inaccuracies that he alleged were advanced by Zimbabwe’s erstwhile colonisers.
What I find most perturbing is not his call for the correction of any historical distortions, but that, 38 years after the country’s independence from Britain, the government has still to tell the true story of Zimbabwe.
Where have they been all this time?
What have they been doing since 1980?
However, the most important question is: do they themselves know what that true history is?
Is it not downright strange that ever since independence, those who claim to be knowledgeable about our country’s history – be it, those who took part in the liberation struggle, or history fundis – who can actually tell the story far beyond the narrow and shallow confines of colonialism and the Chimurenga, as our history is much richer and deeper than that – have mostly been silent?
I would like to believe that we have a rich history that can be retraced as way back as thousands of years before Christ (BC) or, at least, from a few decades into the Christian era (AD).
However, very little, if any, of that has ever been written, and one tends to wonder if this country has competent people to research such a history.
Does such a huge vacuum in our country’s history, then, not leave room for foreigners to come in with their own versions – fancied or real?
It is not always embarrassing when most of us who love reading on history, end up spending time learning about other nations, such as the Europeans, and those in northern, eastern and western Africa?
…and then our leaders start blaming us of not being patriotic!
Needless to say, even when it comes to colonisation and Chimurenga, the people who have done most of history’s distortion are not our erstwhile colonisers, but those in power themselves.
If there is any group of people that has caused so much confusion in Zimbabwe on exactly what happened, or did not happen, in the country’s history, it is the ZANU PF ruling cabal.
How many times, since 1980, have we been told conflicting accounts of the events of the struggle, or the roles played by various people?
Is it not the ZANU PF government that at independence told us how much a hero the late ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo was, and then during the 1980s Midlands and Matebeleland genocide, the narrative changed that he was just a coward who was too scared to wage an armed liberation struggle?
Yet, after the 1988 Unity Accord between ZANU and ZAPU, and the subsequent years, the story reverted to that of a hero – with countless nicknames being given to him in reverence of his bravery.
Several other similar examples were witnessed in post-independence Zimbabwe, notably, Edgar Tekere, Margaret Dongo, Joice Mujuru, and others – who were once touted as having performed amazing fetes of bravado during the struggle, yet when they fell out of favour with the ruling party, were disparaged and reduced to nothing short of sell-outs, and prostitutes.
At the height of ZANU PF’s internal factional squabbles in 2017 – which culminated in the expulsion and subsequent comeback of Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in the November coup d’etat – his liberation war credentials were subject to heated debate.
One wonders if Zimbabwean history is so valueless that it can be so easily changed for political expediency, and manipulated to suit certain narrow interests at the hands of the ZANU PF government.
The question I am sure is on every Zimbabwean’s lip is: what, then, is the true history that Obert Mpofu wants us to be told?
What distortions exactly does he want corrected?
Are we now going to have a different story about the role of, for example, ousted president Robert Gabriel Mugabe?
Are we now going to hear that he probably conducted a coup against then ZANU president Ndabaningi Sithole?
If there is any truth to any historical fact, let it be told – as that is exactly what history is all about.
As hard as it may be for ZANU PF to understand, history is also a science, and as such, every fact needs to be verifiable and proven.
One does not just write down – or say – something out of the blue, and claim that to be a historical fact.
Let it be made law that before any future historical allegations can be made public, they need to be subject to intense scrutiny by a professional body.
Never again should our valuable history – which is a national heritage – be bastardised for cheap gains.
The same way these ZANU PF people do not value this national treasure, is the same way they recklessly mismanage our country and plunder its valuable resources.
ZANU PF knows no respect, and knows no dignity.
History is not a toy to be played around with.
History is a delicate treasure that defines a people’s worth.
A compass that guides a nation.
A barometer that weighs a country’s significance.
What history is not about is, the deliberate lying to the nation – and the world – on any particular event or individual, merely to suit certain shallow agendas – as is being done by the ZANU PF government.