By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
“There is a rainbow, at the end of this tough road.”
In or around 1988, back when Mandela was in prison and school plays were staged demanding his release from prison, someone made me cram this line. My memory is hazy as to whether it was a school play or a church thing, but l recall the line.
Of course, back then l was as completely ignorant of what it meant as l was of the fact that the whole sentence, right down to the comma, had been plagiarized from a Mzwakhe Mbuli poem. Musicians will tell you that the theft of their art is rampart nowadays but the truth is that intellectual property was already under threat even then.
Today, as our country faces an unprecedented assault on its very existence not from enemies without but it’s own, one is tempted to not see the promise of the rainbow, at the of this tough road.
But to see instead the dark clouds that hang around the land between the two rivers, and despair. Dark clouds brewed by our people’s indulgence in an orgy of self-loathing, as we try and outdo one another in telling bad stories about the motherland. We have lost all goodwill in and for ourselves.
When asked by US diplomats what kind of help the opposition would need to deal with Zimbabwe’s problems, Chamisa did not hesitate to say ‘military intervention.’
Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that one of the aspirants for the office of President of the Republic did not take heed of Simon Chimbetu’s words: “hondo ineropa, rufu, kutambudzwa, tose tichapera, vana vevamwe vanopera, mukati mehondo, usatanga imwe, hondo”.
So, when you read newspaper headlines proclaiming ‘Chamisa says ED days numbered’ you are entitled to feel a shiver down your spine, and see the dark clouds enveloping the sky.
But, rainbows don’t come on sunny skies on this plateau, so the gathering of the clouds no matter how ominous, must also suggest that there would be a rainbow, at the end of that tough road, no? Only to the optimistic among us I guess, but our numbers are not many.
Black South Africans are busy in they cyclical culling of fellow black Africans. They target those doing the menial jobs that they themselves shun, and talk about the foreigners who have made their lives miserable, while allowing their politics to be run by people whose association with graft and corruption would embarrass even the mafia of lore.
The international community sends the usual platitudes about the need for leadership, but nary a sanction will be seen going in that direction. Turns out that the killing of tens of black people receives less censure than the taking back of stolen property by black people after 110 years of dispossession, or am I being too judgy?
Zimbabweans, those who love their country so much that they will testify against it on any fora, take to social media to condemn ‘Zanu PF’s hand in the xenophobia in South Africa’. Apparently, Zanu PF has forced Zimbabweans into exile, and these new foreigners in those lands would rather be burnt alive than live in their motherland.
Driving around Zimbabwe, I marvel at the courage of the people thronging cafes, restaurants and nightclubs, those congregating kwaMereki and some such places, those enduring another drab performance from their beloved Amahlolanyama at BF, those getting married in such places as Nyanga or Victoria Falls. Courage, because by conventional wisdom, all these activities are worse than being burnt alive, and they were brave enough to stay and endure them than go get burnt alive in South Africa.
Daily, Zimbabweans within and in the diaspora, while not being burnt alive, pontificate about how bad things are on the motherland. They talk about the ridiculousness of buying bread for $7 and fuel for $10, and how things were so much better only 3 years ago, forgetting that 3 years ago they talked about how things were so much better under Smith because then you could leave money and milk bottles by the gate and someone would come and deliver milk.
Like, that whole independence and freedom thing was a con, we would have been better off under colonialism. The rainbow that came at the end of a ninety year occupation is forgotten, because hell, we really wanted our milk delivered by the gate by someone pushing a cart and collecting coins left besides same empty bottles.
The President cannot leave the country without some erudite analyst sending out unverified claims about how much it costs. Forget that we have seen buses from Belarus and aid from UAE after trips to there, forget that JICA has recently expanded its humanitarian work in Zimbabwe on the eve of the President’s trip to Japan (where most African leaders went), we go on and on about the cost of the trip, as if there was a bicycle option available. Turns out on this so very undemocratic place, we have become experts in the field of private air travel.
Every African leader to a man (sadly), had a few moments with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the summit in Japan. But only in Zimbabwe do we know exactly what was discussed, only in Zimbabwe do we laugh at the miserly 8 minutes that ED got with Abe, only in Zimbabwe do we take delight in how our President was told there would be no support from Japan, as if we were all in the brief meeting. Not a single person shows you an African leader who met Shinzo Abe for hours during the same summit, but who cares about details when there is a country to vilify.
Our Minister of Foreign Affairs scarcely gives himself time to rest going around telling the world about Zimbabwe’s promise. Tourists are curious about the country. And when Steve Harvey gives you free advertising, given his reach (on Twitter he has 3.9 million followers, and his show used to be watched by 2 millions people daily), we are the country that will vilify and hound him into deleting said free advertising because, heaven forbid that the world might see our rainbow.
There really is a rainbow, at the end of this tough road. We have a President who shows up for work at 7am daily, who genuinely tries to fix the mess that he inherited, and cares about the future of this great nation. In fact, so good have been his efforts that internationally, SADC has taken some of our platforms into their agenda.
Yet routinely, we are reminded how Rwanda is so much better, with their better airline and better President and better democracy…..where the President wins 98% of the vote against ours’ 50.6% or so and no one complains. Better President that is, until he decided to take the issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe to the G7 summit, then he gets told “keep your Rwanda and we will keep our Zimbabwe, after all our people’s president taught you how to develop an ICT policy’.
There is a rainbow, at the end of this tough road, but we run the risk of not seeing it. We are like people possessed with self-hate, ready to pounce and destroy any shoots of hope that might dare show themselves. An evil spirit envelopes the plateau and obscures the rainbow. As the musician said, ‘Kulumhlaba silwa lemimoya yamadimoni, Sambeni enhlane siyokhuleka.’
Perhaps then, we might see the rainbow. Perhaps then, we might begin to realize that things were spiraling out of control and the 2nd Republic rescued the ship of state from an unimaginable fate. Kukangamwa chazuro nehope, that’s a saying. How many more interfaces would this country have survived before it gave in? How many people would now be running away from saying “President Grace”? I don’t know about everyone else but I am glad we never got to find out.
When the rainbow started forming way back in November 2017, we were not promised pie in the sky. ‘There will be pain from the necessary corrections which must be made’ is what was promised.
We are going though the pain now. It might very well get worse before it gets better. But as the good book says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Or, as uMzwakhe puts it, “there is a rainbow, at the end of this tough road”.
I really believe that.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer