Let me make this clear again – a country attaining its independence from colonial rule does not, and has never, automatically resulted in the formerly colonized people’s liberation.
I once gave the example of South Africa, which attained its independence from British rule on May 31, 1961, as a consequence of a 1960 referendum, which legitimized the country becoming a republic.
Yet, as is common knowledge, the majority of its citizenry remained shackled under the yoke of subjugation and segregation, on account of the choking brutal heinous policy of apartheid introduced in 1948 by the National Party (NP).
Only in April 1994 – a good 33 years later, did the country finally attain democratic rule – although, the jury is still out on whether the majority of South Africans can truly be said to be free and liberated, since they continue to wallow in abject poverty, with high levels of youth unemployment, most urbanites dwelling in subhuman conditions in shacks, and lacking decent service delivery.
Therefore, it goes without saying that even when a people are claimed to have been liberated – the questions still persist, “Which people” – since not all those in a supposedly liberated country are actually liberated
Let me give another example.
When the United States of America (US) declared her independence from England on July 4, 1776 – under the pretext of freedom and liberation, with a subsequent vicious merciless revolutionary war – not all its people were liberated.
In fact, the founding father of US independence, and the leader of the revolutionary war, George Washington owned a number of black slaves – being one of a staggering 12 presidents who owned and sold other humans
One of these slaves, a female by the name Oney Judge, actually had to risk her life by escaping the Washingtons’ presidential home in the country’s temporary capital of Philadelphia, on May 21, 1796 – a daring move that thoroughly enraged the statesman, to the point of issuing an order for her to be arrested on sight, even though she had fled to New Hampshire, where slavery was not legal.
As it turned out, even after a grueling civil war, with roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, losing their lives in the line of duty (between April12, 1861 and April 9, 1865) – fought on the grounds of an end to slavery in the entire US territory, including the South, whose citizens were fiercely opposed – segregation continued relatively unmolested under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.
Only until the emergence of the powerful 1960s civil rights movement, led by the likes of Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcolm X, and so many others, was some semblance of equality introduced – in spite of the Black Lives Matters still fighting today for genuine respect for all Americans’ rights, especially those of color.
Where am I going with this?
Well, the people of Zimbabwe have never seen a day go by, without being repeatedly reminded by the ruling elite, over how they liberated us from the jaws of colonialism.
As much as that may be an undeniable fact – just as the US, or even apartheid South Africa – however, exactly which Zimbabweans were liberated, because the majority are clearly still languishing in the dark dungeon of oppression and impoverishment (possibly, the most savage of all forms of repression)?
If over half the country’s population lives in extreme poverty of under US$1.90 a day – can we honestly claim that they are liberated?
When nearly 85 percent of those classified as gainfully employed – though, only less than 10 percent are in formal employment, the rest mainly eking a desperate living from street vending, artisanal mining, pathetic so-called “empowerment projects”, even prostitution and stealing – earning below the poverty datum line…are we to say we are liberated?
We have an average dropout rate of 15 percent, as tens of thousands of pupils are no longer attending school, largely as a result of their parents’ inability to afford their fees – is this freedom?
If over 76 percent of children in Zimbabwe, mostly in rural areas, are reported to be food insecure and lacking nutritional meals – what manner of liberation is that?
Numerous households in several towns and cities have never seen a drop of water from their taps in months and even years – is that the freedom the ruling elite loves bragging about?
This is not to mention the tens of thousands who have been barbarically massacred by the Zimbabwe regime and ruling ZANU PF thugs – purely on the basis of their opposition to the ruling establishment, or their ethnicity – as many more are arrested on spurious charges, abducted, tortured, or their homes razed to the ground.
In the meantime, the perennially paranoid junta is, day and night, crafting new menacing and repressive laws, designed to stifle dissent – under the guise of fostering “patriotism”.
Who, then, was liberated on April 18, 1980?
It was certainly not the majority of the people of Zimbabwe – something these harrowing statistics unequivocally state, as numbers certainly do not lie!
Thus, before going on and on about how these people in power in Zimbabwe liberated us, they need to be brutally honest with themselves on whether they, indeed, feel convinced by their own claims!
They need to ask themselves who in this country can afford flying overseas for expensive medical treatment – whilst the majority of the citizenry perish in their homes, for lack of the most basic medications and treatment, with pregnant women even being sent away from hospitals and clinics due to the unavailability of necessary utilities.
Who is chartering private jets from the Middle East, at taxpayers’ expense – to fly for international summits, or personal excursions – yet, ordinary citizens unable to even afford bicycles to ride to work, as bus fares become exceedingly high?
Who are the ones flaunting their imported flashy cars, which they can change like underwear?
Who are the people constructing majestic mansions – in the midst of widespread poverty and ramshackle homes?
Who are those sending their children to overseas schools – when our own do not have access to basic learning material, such as textbooks, ICTs, and many more?
I am sure the answers to these questions are there for all to see.
Again, I ask – exactly which Zimbabweans were liberated by those who love reminding us of this alleged feat?
As a matter of fact, are the courageous men and women who actually fought in the bush for this country’s independence – whilst, the ruling elite sat pretty in foreign lands – not also amongst the millions trapped in this vicious circle of poverty?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured