Thirty-five years ago we gathered at Rufaro Stadium to see the old flag hauled down and the new one hoisted. We joined in prayers and listened to speeches. The next day we started making choices.

Those choices have determined our history for 35 years. We cannot – must not – blame anyone else for what has happened over these three and a half decades. We made the choices. Some were good, some not. If we look at our choices we feel uneasy. We see how many of them were based on self-interest. We scrambled for the fruits, forgetting that fruits only last for a season. The trees need pruning, water, fertiliser. Without this they die and the people die with them.

Other choices were based on fear. I do not raise my hand. It is too risky. The consequences are too unpredictable. Better to just sit and wait. So I do nothing. Meanwhile the fear grows and those who perpetrate the fear find it works. So they keep it up. And I get used to being afraid. It is normal. I suppress my anger. I laugh instead. Laughter gives me relief. It numbs the pain. I sing too and I dance and go to church. They all help, help me to forget.

But I know in my bones, I am just avoiding making true choices; choices that cost me something, choices that are risky. I know too that nothing will change until I find the courage to ask questions, to do something simple that has weight. Like the lady of Selma who sat in a bus.

I am getting used to my comfort. It’s nice. I know things are not OK. But that is other people’s problem. What can I do? I’m just me: one person in a crowd who trudge their way back and forth, back and forth. What difference can I make? Best to keep my mouth shut and get on with my own life. I know others are suffering but that is not my problem. I can’t do anything about it. I am just one person. And anyway it is too risky.

And so we go round and round in circles, going nowhere, persuading ourselves that is all we can do, for now. But what kind of independence is this? Do I rejoice today as I rejoiced all those years ago? Have I lived in the shade all these years, avoiding the sunlight? Avoiding the space to live and breathe and work and be human.

Thirty-five is half of 70 and 70 is some kind of biblical number. Now that we are half way there, is it a time to ponder deeply? Am I going to go on like this? Am I satisfied with what I am living? Is the halfway point a moment to choose again and celebrate Independence again? To celebrate by making choices, choices born of truth and courage?

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