“Independence Day” a continual reminder of how Zimbabweans are still in painful bondage
I have never had any hesitation asserting that the holidays that I regarded most appealing to my heart on the Zimbabwean calender, were “Independence Day”, and “Heroes Day” – not for the skewed and bastardized partisan interpretation that the country’s ruling elite have so deviously attached to them for their own self-serving objectives, but rather, as they were always an huge opportunity for citizens to realize the disturbingly glaring similarities between life under colonial subjugation, to our present day suffering and bondage under an “independent Zimbabwe”.
What better opportunity is there for Zimbabweans to compare and contrast life under the two systems – that we have had the misfortune of enduring under – than the period when the ruling establishment loved to tell all who dare listen about the “ruthless brutal systemic repression of colonial rule”?
What I love so much about all this “exposing of Rhodesia’s cruelty” is that this then provides the people of Zimbabwe a chance to understand what this “cruel life” exactly entailed, and then analyse precisely how that has differed to what we are now undergoing in an “independent Zimbabwe”.
This is also a once-a-year opportunity for the so-called “born frees” (those born after the country’s independence in 1980) to hear firsthand traumatizing personal testimonies from those who suffered immeasurable brutality under the colonial regime – and then, ascertain for themselves (without any undue influence from any quarter) whether there was any difference to the torment and butchering of ordinary Zimbabweans that they have witnessed in modern day Zimbabwe.
During this “Independence Day” period, there will, undoubtedly, be numerous heartrending stories by Zimbabweans who were terrorized by Rhodesian security forces – dissenters (including, protesters) being savagely beaten up, abducted (some never to be seen ever again), tortured (at times in their private parts), sexually abused, arrested for merely standing up or speaking out for their rights (a number facing jail terms), homes razed to the ground, and even whole families being either shot dead or burnt alive in their homes.
In the midst of the obvious tears, that will never elude any normal human being listening to such horrific testimonies, Zimbabweans need to then ask themselves one pertinent question, “So, what has changed in our beloved independent Zimbabwe?
After 1980, are ordinary Zimbabweans no longer being savagely beaten up, abducted (some never to be seen ever again), tortured (at times in their private parts), sexually abused, arrested for merely standing up or speaking out for their rights (a number facing jail terms), unarmed protesters being shot dead on the streets, homes razed to the ground, and even whole families being either shot dead or burnt alive in their homes?
I do not think the people of this great land have forgotten the 1980s Gukurahundi genocide (whereby, over 20,000 innocent civilians from the Matebeleland and Midlands provinces were gruesomely massacred), or Itai Dzamara’s abduction (never seen again) amongst numerous other reported abductions, or the unending arrested on largely spurious charges of labour, social justice, opposition, and media activists for merely standing up and speaking out against a bullying, corrupt, and fascist regime.
Furthermore, during this emotive “Independence Day” period, Zimbabweans will be told about some Rhodesian repressive laws as the Land Apportionment Act – which sought to displace indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands, under the pretext of “investment”, which was given to a privileged few, who would enjoy its vast riches, whilst the real “owners” were relegated to the wastelands.
We will be told of the people under Chief Rekai Tangwena, who were mercilessly evicted from their land in Nyanga (Manicaland province) on 29 October 1970, under this draconian legislation – making way for a privileged few, who (I am sure) were touted as able to “better use the land, and had the capacity, for national development”.
However, the people of Zimbabwe would then need to ask the same question as before, “So, what has changed in our beloved independent Zimbabwe?”
Are the people of Chilonga, in the Chiredzi area of Masvingo province, not currently under threat of being evicted from their ancestral land – ostensibly, to facilitate some “investment” (packaged as beneficial to these same villagers), which in fact, is a Lucerne grass growing irrigation scheme by Dendairy private company?
If those in power would still be feeling the zest to “expose the Rhodesians”, they may bring on several workers from that era to provide further moving testimonies on the paltry salaries that they were awarded, as well as the pathetic working and loving conditions under which they were subjected.
We will be told how a general nurse earned about £18 per month (based on my own mother’s salary in 1964), were accomnaded in four-roomed houses, and had to stay in high density suburbs.
After listening to such clearly sad stories, Zimbabweans would then need to ask, “How is an average general nurse faring today in ‘independent Zimbabwe’?”
Unfortunately, I can not answer for them, but I can certainly vouch for what my own mother could do with £18 per month.
It certainly provided for our family quite adequately as I had a pretty comfortable upbringing, the four-roomed house in the 1970s was well furnished (with new fittings being bought regularly), we ate good food (that has only become a far off dream nowadays), she managed to buy several cars in her life under Rhodesia, and could afford travel and holidays.
Let us also not forget even the lowest grade workers, in spite of the exploitation by Rhodesians, were provided with decent accommodation – which were predominantly, entire townships, including houses for married general and domestic workers (similarly, there were so-called ‘sevants quarters’, which were one or two roomed cottages for single workers situated on their premises of employment) – as well as, well-equiped schools, hospitals, shopping centres, and sports and operational recreational facilities.
Can we say the same under this “independent Zimbabwe” – whereby, workers are treated as nothing more than dispensable liabilities – even newly-built houses not accommodating residences for domestic workers?
After all has been said and done, is it then any wonder why “Independence Day” (and “Heroes Day”) was undoubtedly my most favorite holiday…in fact, I absolutely do not mind at all, even if everyday was “Independence Day”, as long as the corrupt fascist Zimbabwe regime continually exposed itself as being no better than the Rhodies they fought against.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org