Are Zimbabweans a lost cause – irredeemably content with being oppressed?

When I was reading renowned and award-winning journalist Hopewell Chin'ono's latest tweets - where he clearly expressed open frustration and even infuriation at most Zimbabweans' apparent docility, submission, and what appears to be "enjoyment" of their oppression and subjugation at the hands of their rulers - I could feel his every emotion, and related to him with a connection that appeared as if we were Siamese twins.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

Indeed, there is nothing more disheartening, frustrating, and can drain every sinew of one’s energy than watching a people who appear content and accepting the suffering meted upon them by a regime that knows no conscience but seemingly revels at the sight of a nation weeping and groaning under the burden of poverty.

The manner in which Zimbabweans seem to celebrate their pain and abuse is more than troubling – since it gives the impression of a masochistic joy in their grave plight – as some amongst us even dance, praise, and worship the authors of our oppression, who have known no bounds in their propensity to loot and plunder our national resources for their own pleasure, leaving virtually nothing for the rest of the citizenry.

Why do we find some inexplicable, and somehow disturbing pleasure in our pain and suffering (at worst), and lack in interest, or courage, in standing up for ourselves (at best)?

As a matter of fact, Chin’ono’s latest tweets struck me right to the core of my heart, that I felt a burst of energy – after being quiet for some time – to finally write an article since his sentiments resonated with me.

If truth be told – that is why I had gone for a prolonged period without writing anything, because at times, it feels like a sheer waste of time, as Zimbabweans appear irredeemably docile – and, I end feeling no energy for activism.

It is like flogging a dead horse.

This is more true for me, as I do not write for payment – since, I have never made a secret of the fact that I do not receive a single cent directly from my writings, as these are driven by a pure desire and passion to see a truly free and prosperous Zimbabwe, where each and every citizen can enjoy the fullness of our God-given treasures, within a peaceful and democratic society.

Those who get paid for their writings or activism may reluctantly go on, even when they see no hope for the people they are hoping to encourage to stand up for themselves – since they would need to put food on their tables.

Therefore, when cursed with a ruling elite that has no qualms stealing even mere crumbs from a starving child’s mouth – having taken away everything else – one would expect the repressed population to rise up, stand up, and speak out against such unspeakable acts of malice and evil.

Yet, when it seems like Zimbabweans would rather pretend as if there was nothing disturbingly wrong with this picture, as we go about our everyday routines of scrounging for a living without so much as raising a storm – whilst, those who steal from us, live in obscene opulence – some of us, who stand up for the rights of the oppressed, and urge them to resist any further subjugation, become a bit frustrated.

Frankly, I begin to ask myself – are Zimbabweans a lost cause? Why have we become irredeemably content with being oppressed? Am I wasting my time and energy, living a lie, that Zimbabweans will one day stand up for themselves?

Have nearly eighty years of unbroken colonial rule, and a further 40 years of ZANU PF apartheid-like fascist repression, socialized us to accept this as a “normal way of life” – and, have become desensitized to the evil and barbaric nature of such a set-up?

I am reminded of when I was a little child, and my parents and I stayed in the black township of Torwood (in Redcliff) before Zimbabwe’s political independence from Britain in 1980.

When travelling to and from our nearest big town of Kwekwe, we would pass next to the whites-only suburb of Redcliff – with its bigger and more exquisite houses (together with huge yards and swimming pools) – and, if I asked why we stayed in a less attractive township, my father would take his time to explain to me the segregation and suppressive nature of the colonial regime.

When I enquired why the black people in Torwood (whose population seemed greater than those in Redcliff) were not doing anything about it – my father would answer with obvious anguish and apprehension, that the people appeared to have become accustomed to such inequality, and learnt to live with it, somehow accepting that whites deserved to reside in plush areas, whilst blacks stayed in less glorious townships…”nekuti varungu”, because they are white.

I could tell that as a vocal anti-colonialist activist – who had even been blacklisted by the Rhodesian regime – my father would become enraged and outraged by such a “normalization” of the subnormal.

As much as there was a liberation struggle raging in some parts of the country – most of the black majority were more than comfortable with their oppression – it would seem.

I must say, I feel exactly the same as my father did all those decades ago…and, how Chin’ono is feeling today.

What is wrong with us as Zimbabweans? When we will ever understand that it is our common obligation to courageously stand up for ourselves, and to resist any forces of subjugation and suffering – no matter what the oppressor throws our way?

When will we ever get it that, no oppressor has ever been able to withstand the strength of a committed united people?

Yet, we would rather celebrate those who have made a career of tormenting us, and stealing from us – even accepting it as normal…”nekuti ndivo vari kutonga”.

© 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: +263788897936 / +263733399640

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  1. Farayi Muchakabarwa

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