That was the period my life changed forever – becoming the person I am today.
There were two things that occurred to me.
First, was that I developed a deep loathing and disdain for any form of bullying – which, in later life, I knew as injustice.
That is why from when I started writing my social justice articles for local newspapers in 1991, whilst still doing my Lower Sixth form in high school – they were predominantly in defense of the oppressed in society, as I took on the role of the voice of the voiceless.
The second was that this phase of my life (of being bullied) gave me a deep understanding of how the bully’s mind functioned.
The main thing I observed was that a bully was actually a coward, who only targeted those he perceived to be weak and defenseless.
A bully never goes for those his own size or displays confidence and strength.
As someone who has always been an introvert and quite reserved in my social interactions – this was like bait to a shark.
Indeed, the bully may portray an image of being a very tough guy. – who fears nothing and is invincible.
Nonetheless, it will only be a façade – as deep down he is nothing but a terrified person, riddled with so many insecurities.
That is why he ends up targeting only those he believes can not stand up for themselves.
The bullying itself then acts as a way of over-compensating for his deep-seated fears – whilst at the same time, covering up the fact that he, too, is a weak human being.
In other words, bullying gives the bully a false sense of bravado and strength.
As such, having understood this fact, I knew how to finally break myself free of this bullying.
I simply stood up for myself and refused to be pushed around.
This was in a non-violent manner – as I am one person who arbores any form of physical confrontation and conflict.
However, I no longer brooked any nonsense or anything that I interpreted as oppression and injustice.
As a result, the bullies – really being nothing more than cowards – retreated, and I was never ever bullied again.
Nevertheless, there is one mistake victims of bullying make.
For a perfectly understandable reason, they somehow believe that submitting and cowering to a bully is the best approach – as a way of protecting themselves from worse treatment or harm.
From my own personal experience, nothing can be further from the truth.
Again, as I mentioned before, a bully is actually a coward inside, and only preys on those he detects weakness and defenselessness.
In so doing, the more his identified victim shows signs of weakening and submission – the greater the gratification derived by the bully.
In other words, the bullying only intensifies and becomes even more heinous.
At times, that is how we end up hearing stories of bullies who eventually killed their victims.
This is because the more his ‘quarry’ submits, the more emboldened in his sadism the bully feels – and the more gratification he derives from his own perversion.
As such, the next act becomes more horrid and despicable than the last – as he seeks an even greater ‘high’ from seeing his prey suffering and begging for mercy.
The only way to stop a bully is to boldly resist him – and, as with the devil in the Bible, he will flee.
Be that as it may, once the bullying has already been going on for some time – granted, the bully does not take kindly to his victim suddenly developing some guts.
Since he (the bully) has already grown accustomed to his target submitting – and convinced himself of his (victim’s) weakness and cowardice – he may lash out at first, in an attempt at instilling even more fear in his prey.
That is to be expected.
It would be folly to expect the bully to simply roll over, and immediately run away with their tail between his legs!
However, in spite of all the outbursts and fits of rage – meant to reinstill that terror he had become accustomed to seeing – if he perceives that his target is not backing down, the bully will subsequently flee.
That is the psychological makeup of the bully.
There is a reason I had to bore all of you with this long analysis of how the mind of a bully works.
No one can deny that, in Zimbabwe, we are being ruled over (not led) by bullies.
Any repressive and dictatorial authority is comprised of bullies – who prey on the weak and defenseless, as a way of covering up their own insecurities and fears.
A dictator is a very vulnerable person – crippled by the fear of losing power – because this (power) is the only thing that masks these deep vulnerabilities and insecurities seated inside him.
Power is the only thing that gives such people a sense of self-worth.
That is why they do not have any qualms at all shooting, in cold blood, unarmed defenseless civilians – or persecuting and arresting, on spurious charges, any who may oppose their misrule.
They have to act tough, as a carefully crafted façade of being strong and fearless.
It is all about over-compensation!
Yet, leaders who are genuinely strong and courageous not only have no fear of losing power – but also see no reason at all to constantly convince everyone that they are tough.
That is why in genuinely democratic states, citizens are free to criticize or even insult the president – whilst opposing him is not only acceptable but actually encouraged.
These leaders also readily open the presidency up to public scrutiny – availing themselves to regular questioning, even by known ‘hostile’ media, and open debates with political rivals.
Even in our daily lives, people who lack self-confidence are those who can not take criticism or do not like their views challenged.
As much as there can never be a perfect election on the planet, they do try their best.
That is why there is very little for citizens of those countries to complain about – thus, seldom any allegations of vote rigging, or falling short of standards for free, fair and credible elections, or disputed results.
Leaders with high self-esteem, and who are truly strong, do not live in terror of losing power.
Indeed, even in those ‘democracies’ there are occasionally also leaders who lack self-confidence – who display dictatorial tendencies and display signs of bullying.
Nonetheless, the good thing is that these countries already have strong institutions for checks and balances, which safeguard their democracy.
So how do we deal with dictators?
We should always remember that these seemingly ruthless leaders are nothing more than bullies.
And, we already know that bullies are, in effect, cowards.
As such, the best and only way is to resist them by boldly standing up for our rights.
This need not be in a confrontational or violent manner – as that only breeds more violence, and can actually work to the bully’s favor.
In the case of Zimbabwe, there are already endless peaceful means of expressing our displeasure and disgruntlement with the ruling elite – which are all protected by the Constitution.
We are an educated and creative people – and, surely, we can come up with plentiful innovative ideas.
It sinks my heart when some quarters, especially in the opposition, hide behind demonstrations being dangerous – since we are dealing with a brutal regime.
In fact, they claim that the Zimbabwe government actually wants to provoke citizens into street protests – in order to justify a savage crackdown on citizens, whilst also using that as a pretext for arresting opposition leaders.
Well, there may be some truth to those assertions.
However, are we seriously suggesting that Zimbabweans are incapable of formulating other ingenious ways of expressing their displeasure and disgruntlement with the ruling establishment?
Why is it that, whenever the word ‘protest’ is mentioned, the first (and only) thing that comes to mind are street protests?
Why do we not consider ‘stayaways’, for instance – whereby citizens simply stay at home, with no possibility at all of any confrontation with the regime?
I find it rather hard to believe that Zimbabweans can not come up with more creative means of protesting, which circumvent all these concerns around brutal crackdowns and arrest of opposition figures.
Are we earnestly saying that simply playing dead is the most effective way of dealing with a tyrannical regime?
Or, is this just a result of fear and cowardice?
Please take it from me as a self-proclaimed ‘expert on bullies’.
Bullies are in actual fact the real cowards – and, once you resist them, they will flee.
Have you ever wondered why some of the most feared and ruthless leaders to walk the face of the planet actually ended up either going into hiding (some in underground holes and bunkers), or running away from their own countries, or even killing themselves – in the face of rebellion, attack or defeat?
Characters as Adolf Hitler (Germany), Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Tunisia) easily come to mind.
Right here in Zimbabwe, those in the ruling elite, who appeared ferocious and untouchable – when the tables were turned against them, hightailed it to neighboring countries as South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya.
These include current president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, and former cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Walter Mzembi, and Patrick Zhuwao.
Most of them are still holed up there – and the only reason Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe was that the man he had run away from, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, had been ousted from power by the military.
What our opposition needs to understand is that, the more one cowers and submits to a bully – in the misguided belief that he will stop – the more and worse the buying actually becomes.
As already highlighted, a bully derives some perverted pleasure and gratification from seeing his victim suffering and crying for mercy.
Therefore, if the opposition truly believes that the situation will get better in Zimbabwe by continually being docile and timid – in the face of relentless attacks at the hands of the ruling establishment – then they are in for a shock.
With the way things are going, more and more opposition members of parliament (MPs) will be thrown in prison on spurious charges – as the government seeks to amend the country’s Constitution, in order to remove presidential term limits.
In fact, the opposition runs the risk of actually being banned – labelled a terrorist organization, or agents of the West seeking regime change through anarchy.
This can happen even when the opposition remains as placid and feeble as they are today.
They do not have to do anything to face that onslaught.
Already, we are witnessing a disturbing number of opposition MPs and other officials being arrested ever since the 23rd and 24th August harmonized elections.
Had they organized or called for any demonstrations or protests?
It does not need a rocket scientist to figure out that a tyrannical regime does not need to be given a reason to crackdown on opponents.
It can do so, even if we all spent the rest of our lives sleeping in our homes, keeping away from social media, and never criticizing the government.
In fact, the failure to resist and stand up to our bullying leaders is the main reason the repression will continue and actually worsen.
In conclusion, I will repeat the biblical quote, ‘resist the devil and he will flee’.
Remember, the devil – who inspires these dictators – is also a coward!
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit website: http://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/