One merely needs to imagine what it took to be an activist in the ANC (founded on 8 January 1912, in Bloemfontein, initially as the South African Native National Congress), as they fought a seemingly insurmountable and invincible foe – in the form of a stubborn, racist, and brutal apartheid regime – for an entire 82 years, before Uhuru was finally achieved in 1994.
What manner of people were the likes of Saul Msane, Josiah Gumede, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, and Nelson Mandela – who, in spite of not seeing the fruits of their perilous struggle being realized anywhere in the near future, would, without giving up, nor losing hope, unrelentlessly soldier on – even in the face of a more draconian and segregative National Party (NP) coming to power in 1948, replacing the more moderate United Party (UP), and introducing apartheid?
This certainly took a unique breed of activist, who – no matter what was thrown at them, including imprisonment (with some being sentenced to life), assassinations, and gruesome massacres, such was in Sharpeville and Soweto – would remain focused and steadfast on the main goal of achieving a country where all of its citizens were treated equally, and the nation’s resources were shared equitably.
As much as this dream is still to be fully realized – as the current SA leaders have proven to be nothing more than a corrupt and opportunistic lot – however, the bravery, devotion, and determination of the nation’s struggle icons can never be undervalued.
Zimbabweans – who are clearly suffering under a similar apartheid-like repressive tyrannical regime – should learn a lesson or two, from these astute, unflinching, and fearless leaders of the SA struggle for democracy, who never gave up, despite the numerous horrendous challenges placed on their path.
The quest for Zimbabwe’s Uhuru has never been truly attained – ever since the land between the Zambezi and Limpopo was colonized by the British in 1890 – as the successive regimes have only sought to intensify their choke-hold around the suffering ordinary citizenry’s throats – including, the so-called ‘post-independence’ ruling elite, who have inflicted ten-fold the pain and suffering perpetrated by colonial administrations.
In the face of this most heinous kleptomaniac opportunistic ruling junta – whose only purpose appears to loot the country’s vast resources for their own enrichment, whilst the rest of the 16 million citizens wallow in abject poverty, and any who decide to be the Msane, Gumede, Luthuli, Sisulu, Tambo, and Mandela of the people of Zimbabwe, are mercilessly persecuted, arrested on frivolous charges that seldom result in any convictions, or even brutally murdered, being gunned down in the middle of the street when demonstrating.
The temptation for Zimbabweans to lift up their hands in surrender, and hanging their heads in shame, is understandably always present – with the hope of a free and prosperous Zimbabwe for all, increasingly appearing to be a mere pie in the sky – however, we need to learn from these Sons and Daughters of the South African struggle, who, for 82 years (generation after generation) never relented in their determination, even when a more villainous NP regime took over in 1948.
Of course, one main lesson to take from the South African experience is that, “repeating the same thing, yet expecting a different result” is pure madness – considering that, their struggle for democracy took on varied forms, strategies, and tactics, as previous means proved unworkable and failing to yield the desired results.
Yet, in Zimbabwe, we appear to be perpetually trapped in the same old strategies and tactics in our own fight for a better Zimbabwe for all, and a Zimbabwe where there are none who are more equal than others.
We have solely relied on elections for change – that have, repeatedly being rigged, with an unfair and unequal playing field, captured state media and institutions, deployment of ruling party militia and security forces to intimidate and brutalize opposition activists, supporters, and ordinary citizens, as well as traditional leaders abused into coercing villagers (through open threats, and partisan distribution of state assistance).
We have tried boycotts – that have yielded nothing of significance, as the formal employment base that these were largely premised on, has all been decimated through government mismanagement of the economy.
We have tried demonstrations – which, have been met with disproportionate force, as people have been shot dead, in cold-blood by security forces.
Should the people of Zimbabwe give up? No, not at all.
Just as the people of South Africa overcame all adversity, for 82 years – we, in Zimbabwe, should not be any different – but, formulate new and innovative constitutional means of attaining our freedom, dignity, and prosperity, in the land that God gave us to fully enjoy.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured