There’s more to Zimbabwe’s history than merely how “ZANU PF liberated us”, no wonder there’s so much identity crisis

As someone who loved history from my childhood - who would not mind reading encyclopedia after encyclopedia, day in and day out, on any historical study I could get my hands on - television programs by the late renowned historian Aeneas Chigwedere would always captivate me, and temporarily draw my attention away from my books, since I preferred reading than watching TV.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana


Why I always found this program exceedingly fascinating was the profound history about our country, which always filled me with awe, as to its abundant richness, whilst at the same time making me extremely proud to be a Zimbabwean.

I would learn so much about our country’s depth of culture, where we came from, who we are, and how we came to be where we are.

What made me recall those wonderful highly educational programs by Chigwedere, was a very interesting discussion we had today, on one WhatsApp group, about our history as Zimbabweans, and whether we truly understood who we were.

To say that this discussion was eye-opening would be the greatest understatement of the century – since, the knowledge shared revealed just how much, as Zimbabwe, we honestly did not know anything about our own history.

I will not go into the details of the issues shared – as that would need a whole long piece of its own, considering the immensity of the information discussed – but, one thing stood out very clearly to me…the major reason we suffer from this severe identity crisis in Zimbabwe is that we have no idea who we truly are as a people, where we came from, and what we are capable of.

What saddened me, beyond any measure, is that the blame for this – as far as I am concerned – is not on our people (who, obviously, can not be expected to know what they are not taught),  nor is it on some former colonizers who have since been removed from power, forty-one (41) years ago, and can not still be blamed for our own inadequacies today.

However, the blame lies squarely on the laps of those in charge of what we learn in our schools – the government of Zimbabwe.

As far as our “learned” and “esteemed” leaders are concerned, the only relevant history, that our citizenry – most particularly, our children – need to know, is how “the ruling ZANU PF party fought gallantly against a stubborn, arrogant, cruel, and racists colonial regime” in order to “set us free”!

…and they seriously expect to inculcate a sense of patriotism and national pride amongst the people of Zimbabwe, with such clearly partisan, biased, extremely shallow history?

As I have alluded to in similar such articles, a people’s history can never be cherry-picked, nor taught in small selected pieces – but, is a total accumulation of past events, especially relating to human affairs, or to the accumulation of developments connected with a particular nation, person, or thing.

This should be a totality – and, not just how the British came to our land, occupied, colonized, and subjugated us, and how the likes of Mbuya Nehanda bravely, but unsuccessfully, fought the “invaders”, and the subsequent ZANU/ZAPU-led Chimurenga, that led to our “Uhuru”.

Honestly, is that our history? And, how is that supposed to excite patriotism and national pride?

In fact, how many of us knew that the First Chimurenga was not even the one launched by Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, and others in 1896-7 – but, was actually led by General Dombodzvuku in 1695, who later took over the rulership of Zimbabwe, after driving out the Portuguese, who had entrenched themselves in our nation – which means that, what occurred soon after British occupation and colonization was the Second Chimurenga, and the one that led to our independence in 1980, being the Third?

For the information of the ruling elite, Zimbabwe’s history does not start in 1890, and end in 1980 – but, is actually endowed with so much richness, that spans hundreds of years, which everyone would be so proud to be associated with.

However, the main problem we have is a government that is not genuinely interested in its citizenry valuing and appreciating this history but is merely motivated by a selfish desire to distort (or, at best, hide) our past – purely for the sake of portraying themselves as Zimbabwe’s only heroes, who should be eternally worshipped, as we feel perennially indebted to them.

Is it then any wonder that there are not too many takers of this self-serving agenda – as the people of Zimbabwe are left with a huge gap of historical and identity emptiness…considering that anything is done in dishonesty, seldom achieves its objectives, and this emptiness is filled by others with their own outside nefarious agendas?

Zimbabweans can easily be overly proud of who they are if only the history they were taught was true and complete – since, “ZANU PF liberating us” is not the cornerstone of who we are, neither will it ever make anyone proud to be Zimbabwean…seeing how the same ZANU PF has ruined their lives!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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