“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but now I became a man, I put away childish things”.
By virtue of all of us having been children at some point in our lives, we spoke, understood, thought, and even acted as children.
This entailed immature behavior – which, oftentimes, we genuinely believed was the height of unparalleled cleverness and wisdom.
Yet, when those who had walked that path before us, and who fully understood all the pitfalls on the way, warned us of these dangers – we arrogantly scoffed at them, as words of “old-fashioned and ancient folk” who were out of touch with the modern world.
However, time never stands still – and, it was inevitable that, sooner or later, our elders’ cautions eventually caught up with us – as we suddenly realized that we were not clever after all, but in fact, the biggest idiots on the face of the planet.
Due to our stubbornness – which turned out to be nothing more than unmitigated foolishness and ignorance – we lived in regret, faced painful consequences, some of which were irreparable and irreversible.
As we became older and truly wiser, we began sounding like those elders – who had warned us in our childhood – as we tried to impart the same wisdom onto the younger generation, using our own experiences of the painful and perilous life journeys.
Of course, more often than not, we are now labelled the new “old-fashioned and ancient folk” – whom the younger ones ignore and even ridicule – only for them to also learn the hard way, and hopefully finally wise up after their own hard knocks of life…if they are fortune enough to actually live to tell their stories.
This rings true for those youth who we have been witnessing engaging in barbaric political violence – as they allow themselves to be used by powerful leaders (who themselves, always manage to keep their hands clean) – apparently without the foggiest idea of the deep grave they are digging themselves into.
Political violence is nothing new in Zimbabwe – and, some of us who are now nearing 50 years old, have tales to tell of how those who walked a similar path before, ended up.
If only our young ones would ask us – they would understand what a messed up and truly tragic painful life awaits them.
I have personally witnessed rowdy and roguish ZANU PF thugs, who – in their imagined “cleverness and wisdom” – savagely beat up their supposed “enemies”, who were actually our Ndebele-speaking neighbors, after which burning down their homes, amidst excited song and dance, in the 1980s.
I also watched as another group of ZANU PF hooligans – clearly having learnt nothing from the stories of their 1980’s predecessors – joyfully marching and toyi-toyiing around our neighborhood of Redcliff, cruelly beating up opposition MDC supporters, and burning down their homes, in the early 2000s.
Obviously, unbeknownst to each other’s experiences – both groups of thugs, consequently faced a most gruesome and harrowing ending to their lives.
It was nearly impossible not to feel some sort of sorrow – as those youth, who once believed themselves owned the world, and had the power of life and death in the palms of their hands – walked around as sad and empty shells of their former selves.
Most of them literally became mentally deranged, walking around aimlessly, in their unkempt and disheveled forms – no longer having an identifiable purpose in life, if they were even capable of managing life at all…and, ultimately dying very painfully deaths.
What is even more depressing is that, these were largely domestic workers, and others already struggling in life – who, only managed to destroy and lose even the little they had.
Possibly, the case (amongst the many) that haunts me the most, is of one of these ZANU PF youth leaders – whom, I referred to as Cde Chinx, due to the fact that he always donned a beret, in a similar fashion as the late literation war singer – who had been at the forefront of the 2001 attacks on MDC supporters, ahead of the 2002 presidential elections.
A day after his “march around town” – having burnt down the home of the then chairman of the Redcliff Ratepayers’ Association, a Mr Hungwe, whom they accused of being a MDC supporter, harboring mayoral aspirations – he moved about with a police officer, allegedly to protect him from a potential backlash from the opposition.
He truly felt “presidential” – what with his own personal “aide-de-camp” waiting upon him the entire day!
I remember thinking – should the police not actually be arresting him, instead of offering him bodyguards?
Nonetheless, no amount of police protection could shield him from the spiritual and psychological consequences of his actions – as soon, in the same manner as those before him, he lost his mind, began residing in a local forest, in which he was subsequently found dead.
These were people whom we all knew – as they lived amongst us, worked in the community, and it was such a tragedy watching them ruin their own lives in such a fashion.
Fast forward to today, we have yet again, a new generation of youth, who appear more than willing to go down an identical path – as they become ready pawns of brutality, for political leaders’ selfish ambitions.
These youth appear to forget that, these leaders do not care a hoot about them, and the obvious consequences that will eventually befall them.
Just with the former groups – whose only possible “reward” were drugs and alcohol – they will face the tragedy awaiting them, on their own…with their paymasters and leaders nowhere in sight.
It is clear, history is repeating itself – as it often does – and, there is already a new generation of madmen and women in the making, whose deaths will most likely be gruesome and wretched.
Such is the painful and pitiful lesson of life – when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child – but, sadly, for these youth, they do not appear to be growing into men and women.
If only they would listen to those who have seen life, and know exactly what is in store for them, should they continue in this way.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.comPost published in: Featured