The main reason I say that is that a good n’anga has more sense than to predict clearly things that nobody can know, like next week’s stock exchange prices or which politician’s schemes are going to unravel within a month. That would be too much like counting your chickens before they have hatched. In real life we can only say in general that the present trend cannot continue or our latest self-appointed saviour will soon show his limits. That’s about as reliable as saying, “My hens are all sitting on numbers of eggs; there’ll be a lot of chicks soon.â€ But you don’t know how many of those eggs will produce viable chicks, or how many will be eaten by rats. You can’t be exact.
We like to think we know what people will do, so that kind of talk about famous people is a popular pastime. But we don’t really know them well enough to be sure. Politicians affect all our lives, so we like to think we know them from what we read and hear, but how much do we really know?
Many people ask, “What happened to our noble, brave visionary leader who brought us independence?â€ and my answer is; he hasn’t changed, but we have. In 1980 we wanted an inspiring world-class leader like Nyerere or Nkrumah, so we invented one. The leader we all admired in 1980 was created by our imagination. Don’t blame him for playing along with our fantasies; what politician wouldn’t?
As for our present situation, it’s been as certain as a dozen hens sitting on clutches of eggs that we’ve been heading for a crisis for a long time. It is clear that crisis is now near, but what will it be like? And what will emerge from it? I find it easy to predict a crisis and don’t need to throw hakata to know it is coming. But when it arrives, it will still surprise our most farsighted observers. It probably won’t feel like anything you expected.
As for the fortunes of individual politicians, who would have predicted a year ago that Joice Mujuru would be removed so quickly? We thought we knew something of our present secretive Vice-President, but did you expect his schemes to unravel as they seem to be doing now? For all his careful plotting, he seems to have miscalculated the Old Man and started behaving as if he was president while we still have a live one.
We thought we knew and we were surprised at how things worked out. If you do enjoy a chance to show in conversation how much you know about famous people, you’d be wiser to discuss footballers. They are more predictable.
Freedom didnâ€™t follow
For myself, I can’t get excited about which contestant for power looks like a winner today, or which is headed for a fall tomorrow. We know we are in a period of transition. The most important question is:”What is this a transition to?â€ and there we all have something to contribute. We all want something better than we have seen over the past 20 years. We can all say what is wrong now, even if we don’t agree on all the details, but have we tried to describe what we hope for?
We need a vision, a dream, of the better life we want, because we tend to get what we want. Perhaps last time we too easily let some people think they brought us independence and we found too late that freedom didn’t follow. I would suspect anyone who had a plan for what to do in every possible situation we may see in the next year, but if we have a vision of our destination, we will be able to work out the way to reach it, step by step.
A people without vision is lost.
I came to the conclusion long ago that, if you want to predict political or economic events, a good n'anga is probably a better guide than all the professional â€œanalystsâ€.