One stubborn thing about history is that it would have already occurred, as such, is now indelible, and the best way – if not, the only way – to deal with it is to address any injustices and dark skeletons found therein – as not doing so, would be setting a time-bomb, that will explode sooner or later.
Historical injustices, like dirt, can not be merely swept under the carpet, and hope for the best – as the aggrieved will grow more sour by each passing day – whose results would be catastrophic.
It is in this vein that I found the recent comments by Zimbabwe vice president Kembo Mohadi, suggesting that we all bury our heads in the sand, and act as if there have not been any historical injustices amongst the people of this nation.
Mr Mohadi, burying ones head in the sand is never the best way to protect oneself from impending danger – as one will be eaten alive!
No matter who has aggrieved who, the best way of resolving the problem, or problems, has never, and will never be, to simply act as if nothing happened.
That has never worked!
In fact, the best and surest way of one day a situation exploring and getting out of hand, is for aggrieved parties to pretend as if nothing ever occurred – hoping that the pain and hurt will, somehow, magically vanish into thin air.
Let us give an example based on what Mohadi himself alluded to…
If a member of my family is killed, there is ngozi (the aggrieved spirit), that needs to be appeased through some sort of restitution.
However, if my family also kills a member of the other family, that does not mean that the ngozis cancel out each other, but that we also need to pay restitution – which Mohadi correctly said would usually be in the form of cattle.
Therefore, both families have to pay restitution to each other.
However, what Mohadi seems to be suggesting is that these two families – because they aggrieved each other – they need to just pretend as if nothing happened, and the issue will just go away!
I do not know from which planet Mohadi has been, but reality and human nature do not work that way.
In fact, he appears to have been contradicting himself in his statement, as at one point he seems to be acknowledging the need for restitution to appease the ‘ngozi’, yet, in the same breath, suggests that since communities have grievances against each other, then they should just ignore these.
He is effectively saying that, ‘two wrongs can make a right’!
If the Shona have grievances against the Ndebele, as Mohadi put it: that they ‘took our beautiful women and fat cattle’, then these should not cancel out the fact that the ZANU PF regime – with the assistance of the British – massacred tens of thousands of innocent Ndebele men, women, and children.
In fact, what has the killing of over 20,000 unarmed and defenceless Ndebele people by a rogue ZANU PF regime have to do with the Shona?
By equating Gukurahundi – a purely ZANU PF matter – to the Ndebele attacks on the Shona – and taking their ‘beautiful women and fat cattle’ – Mohadi is the one perverting these whole issues into a tribal conflict.
Let it be very clear to Mohadi that the Shona never orchestrated Gukurahundi, but his ZANU PF regime did – and as such, he should not hide behind tribe as an excuse for his fellow comrades not being held to account for their heinous atrocities.
As I have said numerous times before, I am actually of Zulu decent – as my father’s father came from South Africa with the pioneer column in 1890 – and my surname was bastardized from Mpofana by Shona administers – so my views should not be misconstrued as those of any interested party, as I am impartial in this issue, but merely stand for justice.
Nonetheless, if ever there is to be genuine healing in Zimbabwe, we all need to be open and candid with our grievances.
The Ndebele obviously feel aggrieved by Gukurahundi, and the Shona also feel aggrieved that their ‘beautiful women and fat cattle’ were taken by the Ndebele – and these issues need to be addressed.
I actually recently received a message from one reader who told me a sad personal tragedy, in which he lost family member to what he alleged was the killing of nearly 300 Shonas by the Ndebele at Enthumbane decades ago.
It is, thus very clear that there are a lot of unsettled issues in Zimbabwe, and the sooner they are boldly addressed, the better – as failing to do so will only lead to disaster.
As I have already mentioned earlier, history teaches us that pressing grievances are only resolved, not by being swept under the carpet, but discussed openly – with the willingness for peace and reconciliation.
By suggesting that addressing historical injustices and grievances only leads to further conflict, the ZANU PF regime is being disingenuous and hypocritical.
Let us not forget that the whole liberation struggle was an effort to redress historical injustices perpetrated by the White colonial powers.
Why did ZANU PF not let colonialism continue, so as not exacerbate racial tensions?
Furthermore, the land reform programme by the ZANU PF regime was another shoddy attempt to sort out historical injustices, in which White people ‘stole’ the indigenous people’s land over 120 years ago.
Again, why did the ZANU PF regime not ignore this injustice so as to prevent racial conflict?
If the ZANU PF regime believes that racial injustices should be addressed, then why should all other injustices not be resolved head-on – in an open reconciliatory manner, without the aggressive, and even murderous spirit that we witnessed with the land reform programme.
Resolving any grievances means approaching issues with humility and a contrite heart – fully accepting that one deserves any punishment that is due to them.
Whomever has aggrieved the other needs to humbly acknowledge and apologise for whatever wrong they committed, and be willing to be held to account and pay restitution.
As is to be expected, the other party would have been aggrieved and emotions would inevitably run high, but no one should ever underestimate the power of a genuine and heartfelt apology and acknowledgement.
Honestly, I do not see how that causes conflict – in fact, that is what peace and reconciliation is made of!
As much as the land reform programme was chaotically and foolishly handled, I am sure even ZANU PF would agree with me that, if White commercial farmers had been humble enough, and had voluntarily sought to relinquish huge chunks of their farms, from the onset – as a form of restitution – land would not have had to be compulsorily confiscated.
Even in South Africa today, if historic injustices are not promptly addressed amicably, then disaster is looming.
Similarly, if any grievances that certain communities in Zimbabwe have are not promptly openly addressed, then there will sooner or later be conflict that will be far much harder to resolve.
Only humility, acknowledgement, and willingness to be held to account is the true recipe for lasting peace and reconciliation in Zimbabwe, as failure to do so, will result in the explosion of the nation.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is also the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or (calls ONLY) +263715667700, or email: [email protected] Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.Post published in: Featured