A few years ago, the National AIDS Council had a motto for that year that went, “live and let live”. Their thrust was to basically discourage the then inadequately educated general populace of some of the crude misconceptions against those living with HIV/AIDS and how such stigma affected them.
However, I think we Zimbabweans may have taken those words at much more than their face value. We have begun to “let live” absolutely any good or bad event, incident or attitude that has crept into our society.
When politicians say outrageous statements, laced with ridicule, contempt, and even blatant fibbing, we say “live and let live”. When kids are molested and courts deliver outrageous judgments, “live and let live.”
When the incompetent are promoted to higher office basing on political patronage, “live and let live.” (No, I don’t mean you Mphoko, or you Tomana, or you Justice Hungwe, or you Obert, or whoever else fits the bill.)
When banks close and our hard earned money has been eroded by insider loans, its “live and let live.” Even when we can see in plain sight the mansions built and cars bought from that very same money. When fuel prices go up, unjustifiably that is, its “live and let live.”
When the whole Central Business District of our “sunshine” city is stained with vendors, it’s “live and let live.” When we see the “police” (the name is gradually becoming a joke) creating roadblocks just to ensure they have money for their kids school fees, or that Friday night drinkup, its “live and let live.”
When we see ZBC delivering pathetic outdated content, and blatantly propagandist news bulletins, its “live and let live.” When voters’ rolls are clearly modified and in other cases not altogether available, its “live and let live.”
When jobs are lost, companies are closed, parliamentarians demand hefty allowances, political activists disappear, political parties “expel” (in the case of ZANU (PF)), or “split”, in the case of the MDC(s) (in their ever growing number), its still “live and let live.”
When shall we choose to address these anomalies? When shall we choose to complain against such misdeeds? When shall we choose to oppose the invincible? When shall we realise that, at this rate, instead of it becoming “LIVE AND LET LIVE”, it shall soon become, “LET LIVE, AND DIE”?
If I believed in life after death, I would say Niccolo Machiavelli is probably turning in his grave right now. I hear he was great “historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer.” (that is according to Wikipedia, which my lecturer always emphasised as NOT being a trustworthy website). However, for those who have a non-existent knowledge of ancient literature, he has been immortalised by one statement, “the ends justify the means.” Being a person who sees the best in every situation, I would like to believe he meant this “innocently”. But alas, dictators, thieves, harlots and all manner of like scum have leaned heavily on these words to defend whatever uncouth activities they are engaging in.
My post does not wish to explore dictators, thieves, harlots and all manner of like scum, but rather, to attempt to unravel the famous statement in a slightly different context. What does it mean to say, “the ends justify the means”? Which are the ends? And which are the means?
I am a man. That is not to boast or to brag. It is a fact. I am a man, albeit a young one. Inexperienced, impulsive, and not YET monied (I am getting there). This means within me runs that masculine instinct, the male ego that so craves constant boosts, and that unquenchable desire to outrun, outmuscle, and outmanoeuvre everyone else. In my mind there are very many things that could aid my fulfilment, but here I will choose only four. Wife. Car. Job. Kids. Which are the means? Which are the ends?
Is a wife an end? Or is she a means? Is she the ends that allow happiness? Or is she a means for sex? A means for getting the laundry done, the dishes done, and the food cooked? Is she a means for bearing children to continue the family name? Is a wife an end? An end to loneliness, an end to disorganisation, and an end that causes fulfilment for her husband? I go with ends.
Is a car an end? Or is a car a means? Elementary explanation would classify it as a means (of transport), but the sense of achievement that succeeds the purchase of a car (even though it may be the cheapest unfashionable fuel saving Ex-Japanese model) would supposedly make it seem like there is an end that has been attained. A car is only a means. To take you from home to work. From church to the shopping mall, from Point A to Point B.
People will always be punctual for work (the exception is renegades like me), and the slightest delay will have them frantically calling in with an apology. However, those same people don’t give a rat’s hoot about when they get home. If they are past the expected time, they don’t even bother to apologise. Which brings me to the obvious. Home and work, which is the means, which is the end? Do we go to work to build a better home, or do we go home to be better prepared for work the next day?
This will be the last, are kids an end? A blessing that God bestows on a married couple? Or are children a means? A pension fund for the future when they now have to return the favour we did by taking care of them? Are children a source of happiness, or are they just a means to achieve financial security, an investment vehicle with long term dividends?
What really is the purpose of the obvious? I will use a few statements to conclude my rambling. With the extreme materialism that the world has acquired, we are ignoring the important things, and focusing on the things that don’t matter. Our tools have become our obsessions, and our loved ones have become the sharp jagged edges that make these tools sharper. To what END though? Excuse the pun!
Life, it really is overrated if you ask me. The one exam you can’t pass with flying colours, because every “was” has room for improvement and becomes a “could have”. Where you know no matter how hard you try, how far you run, how much you pray, death is lurking earby and will swoop on you, eventually?
It is a continuous process where you can’t fully enjoy every happy moment, because you know a sad one will come, and where every sad one seems to always last longer than the happy one. It is a time when you have to worry about impressing people, about succeeding, and about making it to the next day. It is a time when you have to put yourself last, but more often than not, think you are putting yourself first, when the things you think are good for you are actually bad for you, and the things that are really good for you, don’t look so good at all?
But what are we to do? For it is the only time we have. Indefinite, uncertain, unreliable, but to be enjoyed while we still can. As we watch those that we were born with, that we went to school with, that we grovelled in the mud with, that we partied with, and with whom we had pledged forevers, as they breathe their last and leave us alone, or even leave us alone without having breathed their last, let us remember that we don’t know our own fate, we don’t hold the answers and we cannot be sure of the very next moment…let us enjoy this one for it might be the last we ever have.
And as overrated as it might sound, life is the best thing that ever happened to any and all of us, thank the Almighty for it!
31 July 2013, that is our Ides of March in my beloved country. The day when all those who have been fortunate enough to find their names on the voters’ roll, go through the hassle of putting that dreaded X on those ballot papers. That X which, come to think of it, doesn’t have particularly happy memories for us Zimbabweans. This is the very same letter that sold out our country, when Lobengula’s mind, benumbed by the taste of sugar on his tongue, signed over such vast tracts of fertile land and immense mineral resources to the British. But here we are again, selling or safeguarding our wellbeing with that most unused of all the letters of the alphabet.
I have always prided myself in being strictly apolitical. I mean, even though I obviously have a certain orientation I am inclined to, (I shan’t say which)I have always stayed aloof of expressing any opinions in matters political, instead watching with glee the appalling levels of gullibility that are exhibited even by the most learned of gentlemen and ladies. Listening to esteemed intellectuals waxing lyrical about promises they know are lies. And friends becoming enemies, and families disintegrating, blatant lies being peddled, promises being broken, lives being lost.
But, I digress. I have a few words worth pondering upon, as you stand in that long snaking queue at the polling station, first in the stinging cold (if you wake up early enough), and then later in the scorching heat. The words that should guide your hand as it places the X in the relevant box. That X being the proverbial drop in the ocean which will always have such a huge effect. Let us always remember, our future is in our own hands.
As we vote, let us remember Air Zimbabwe, let us remember the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company, and let us remember the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. Let that X represent the choice you make regarding the National Railways of Zimbabwe, along with the Zimbabwe National Water Authority. Keep in mind the plight of ZiscoSteel. Think of your children, living and unborn. Vote for employment, vote for peace, vote for development. Vote for stability, vote for wellbeing. And most of all, vote with common sense. And know that those seconds, or minutes, that you will spend behind that cardboard booth, will have far reaching effects and consequences to be felt over a very long time.
The date was 7 July 2013. The day of the week? It was a Sunday. The location? 74 km outside of the capital city of Harare, in a place called Marondera. The days preceding would have passed for any other days, with not much difference. Not much scrambling to clean the city, no emergency services being put on high alert, and definitely no beefing up of security. What was the event? The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe (isn’t he also supposed to be the Head of Government?) Doctor Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, in his capacity as the president of one of the bigger parties in the country, was coming to address a star rally, seeing as election are nigh.
He came, amid much pomp and fanfare. Amid loud horns, whistles, ululations, shouts and the like. He came, he addressed the crowds, (hundreds of people according to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, and thousands according to all other sources) and thereby launched his election campaign with a bang. He spoke, and he went. And left the city red. Red due to the thousands of MDC-T t-shirts that were distributed to the crowds in their thousands. Red that is, until the pro-ZANU (PF) transport operators declared they didn’t want any red in their vehicles. Then the t-shirts were either stacked into handbags, pockets, or just thrown away.
And the next day, things were back to normal. People going back to the daily business, and Tsvangirai and his band of merry men (Tendai Biti, Jameson Timba, Nelson Chamisa, Solomon Madzore et. al.)were all forgotten. And the town was back to being multi-coloured.
Fast forward to 15 July 2013, just 8 days after a completely red city. This time, there were more serious preparations. The atmosphere around the town was, in the words of neutrals, expectant. It was obvious and required no telling that we were anticipating a big event, or visitor, or both. Even to a first time visitor to the small town of Marondera, it was clear to the eye that the environs had received a major touch-up, and a massive facelift.
The notoriously narrow Murehwa strip road was widened, and all the rough edges smoothed, the usual dumpsites in the neighbourhoods were cleaned away, the gravel roads were watered to avoid the possibility of dust covering the horizon, hell even the soccer pitches were watered (now, that does not happen everyday, or even week, maybe in a month). There was a heavy police presence, there were definitely more posh cars than usual, (the Toyota Land Cruisers, Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover’s and the like) which made for a nice sight for those of us so accustomed to those reconditioned ex-Japanese models.
This time, it was the turn of the Head of State and Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Cde. Robert Gabriel Mugabe to pay us a visit. Oh yes, again there were thousands of people in attendance. And to its credit, the ZANU (PF) package was more complete than the MDC-T one (in fashion terms that is). Not only was there variety in the colours on offer (red, yellow, white, black among others), but there was also an assortment of clothing items. There were t-shirts, caps, jumpsuits, doeks (traditional headdresses), hats, berets, and Zambias. Where the MDC had only clothed the torso and abdomen, ZANU ( PF) made sure to cover the whole body from head to ankle, (stroke of genius, that?). That’s a few political points scored by the revolutionary party. The President also came, addressed, and went. And left a bit more memories than the Right Honourable Prime Minister.
We await the arrival of Professor Welshman Ncube with bated breath. It is my sincere hope, (I know I am not the only one) that he shall bring with him a horde of t-shirts. And shoes as well, (where the two former parties shortchanged us.) A fair number of residents in the town capitalised on the chance to hoard the two parties’ regalia, and would jump at the chance of a third one, ( oh please Welshman, do come?)
Judging by the attendance at these rallies, it is going to be a hard call who will claim the bragging rights to the city. And I am so glad I do not have to rack my brains as to who of these two (and more) I have to vote for, having been denied my constitutional right by the bureaucracies of Z.E.C (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission).
But judging by the events surrounding such events, (better looking city, more regalia, and the fact that I do not have to go to work) I will hold onto the faintest hope that even Mr. Egypt Dzinemunhenzva will feel obliged to grace us with his presence.
Because as things look, Elections, 31st July 2013; On your mark, Get Set…
Sensationalism is one epidemic that has seized most of us Zimbabweans. We make the most out of nothing, and ignore the actual essential issues in many aspects of our lives, and for our country. This realisation has just been sparked by a recent online ranking that was published concerning my country.
For those not in the know, feel free to read this to see what I am talking about. Apparently, Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa (round of applause!) But before we sink in the euphoria and glory of this enormous achievement, (considering the vastness of Africa, and how we are seemingly in an irretrievable crisis as a nation, this is something to be proud of), let us conduct some introspection into this issue at hand, and really think, is it something to be proud of, or something that should actually lead to a wake up call?
From my research, many dictionaries, (whether hardcover, paperbacks and online) concur that the basic definition of literacy is the ability to read and write. Period! Now, by any standard, this is something that is very basic. Not to undermine those who are just barely literate, but it is not something to sit atop a rock, and shout to all and sundry about. Have we ever paused to ask ourselves, why do these people only strive to read and write and end it there? Why do we satisfy ourselves with less, when more can be attained? There are obviously many who use this as a focal point in their campaigns and conversations and actually think they have helped us get to the pinnacle of self-actualising. I, however, do not seemingly share these sentiments. I do not mean to pop the bubble that we are all flying inside as a nation, but to give an example, isn’t such behavior akin to collecting a person from their home and purporting to be taking them to the city centre? And then when you are a few kilometers from the destination, you tell them to alight from your car and finish the journey on foot? Such sarcasm I would suppose.
We brag about a 90.7% literacy rate (let’s not ignore the fact, it is VERY high) but how do we explain that further down the academic stream, there is the 18.5% pass rate at Ordinary Level? Such pointers should reflect the enormous work still to be done, and while the efforts thus far are very commendable, they are in no way enough for us to sit on our laurels and go narcissistic.
I do believe i once mentioned in a previous post that my dstv isn’t subscribed…therefore i hope most of you will understand my rage. I have always held my peace with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation…even during their 100 % ridiculous local content ( you do remember?) I stuck with them. Well that was until today.
This time the straw has broken the camel’s back. Today I finished all my commitments on time and waited for nine o’clock. Actually by 8 i was done..even sat down for that hideously propagandist news bulletin and watched all their bull which, though besides the point of my post, makes me think…how stupid (or gullible) do these people think we as Zimbabweans really are? The lies they sometimes they peddle are not only blatant, they are equally ridiculous. I mean I do not have any problems per se with the content they choose to broadcast, but rather am concerned with the newsworthy stories that they choose to ignore. what the hell happened to the concept of a global village? It seems unless the word Zimbabwe has been mentioned, (or the United States is acting waywardly), a foreign story does not concern us, what with all those wars in Syria, in Palestine, in Afghanistan, the Korean Crises, they have never given a hoot about letting us know such.
Nevertheless, having survived the Sunday Edition of bull, I sat up proper on the sofa, adrenaline pumping in anticipation of the Confederations Cup match, after all, Ztv had “promised” it would screen live all the matches. So you can imagine how disheartening it was to hear those news anchors go like..”zbc current affairs will.be bringing you a special programme on the Maputo summit immediately after this BULLetin”. Like who the hell does not know what happened in Maputo? (whatever version of it). Since i really had no other choice i shrugged it off and said to myself..well only 30 min of the match shaved off, there will be an hour to watch still. But alas, there was greater disppointment in store. After the Reuben Barwe show (gosh i hate that man) as if it couldn’t really get worse, along comes another, “Mai Chisamba”. Okay Mai Chisamba can be animating at times, fair and fine, but what the hell happened to keeping promises?
I abhor the way those guys conduct their business. The propaganda machines that work overtime, and yet are underpaid (imagine the stupidity). Their arrogance is appalling, their stubbornness is an epitome of pride coming just before a fall. The next time I ever see those people asking for their licences, I will not be held accountable for my actions. Happison, I am watching you, your days are numbered.
Growing up is something to look forward to when you are young, and something to look backwards on with regret when you are now old. At birth, the world is like a tap of unlimited running water, all things are possible and everyone is good. In the mind of a child, their daddy is the strongest man, and their house is the best. But in the words of a wise man, “he who has not seen another farm says that his father’s farm is the biggest.”
But alas, as we grow up, bit by bit, we realise that there is light, and there is darkness,. That there is laughing, and there is crying. We realise that there is male, and there is female. We realise that these supposedly lovey-dovey adults are not going be smiling and affectionate all the time, they are actually going to frown at us some of the time. Hell, they are even going to inflict a bit of pain on us at times by spanking us. We realise that not everything can or should be eaten; we realise that we can’t always have every toy that we want.
And then we go to school. And suddenly, more reality sinks in, we realise that there are those who are better than us, and those who actually envy us, that not everyone is the same, and that not all is always as it seems. We realise that nothing is for free, and that life is not a bed of roses. We realise that hard work pays, and laziness has no reward. We realise that bad choices have undesirable consequences, and that good choices are seldom easy to make.
We realise that we aren’t always right, and we realise that we have to say sorry sometimes. We realise that there is love, and we realise that love is a good thing. We also realise that most of the time what we think is love, is actually fake. We realise that friends come, and we realise that we should treasure them, because those friends don’t stay forever. We realise that promises can be broken, and we realise that the hardest thing is to keep your word.
We realise the perfection of imperfection, we realise that people can be good, and people can be bad. We realise that it is a risk to trust, and that it is an achievement to be trusted. We also realise that people betray, backstab and pretend. We realise that we are going to die, that our bones are going to start creaking and aging, and feel weak. We realise that we wish that we had remained young, and that life had remained as carefree as it was back then.
But in the midst of all this, we realise that we have learnt invaluable lessons, and that we ought to pass these on to the younger ones. We realise that although it rarely seems the case in hindsight, the journey has been truly worthwhile, and that the juice has been worth the squeeze. We realise that, given the chance, barring a few instances, we would desire to undertake the adventure again. But we realise, that the greatest realisation we have made, is that Peter Pan was (or is) such a lucky guy.
Elections! This word is enough to send a chill up the spine of any Zimbabwean old enough to remember the last one. Or more specifically in line with the subject of my post, the period, before, during and after the last non-harmonious “harmonized” elections. And I hear that the revered judges of the Constitutional Court have seen it prudent to disturb our peace, (real or pretended) and declare that we only have roughly two more months before we have to endure that same process again. However, I shall not waylay myself into focusing on the politics of this issue, but rather on the ripple effect that was felt in all other spheres of life by the general populace.
Who can ever forget the horrors of the year 2008? The single worst year in human memory, not only in my 2 decades of existence, but even the octogenarians and nonagenarians who had, in their opinions seen so much that nothing else could possibly shock them. Socially, economically, politically, this was the climax of all the preceding years of deterioration. When there was nothing in the shops, nothing in the service stations, and nothing in the banks. I vividly remember the anguish of not having the most basic commodities like bread, sugar, milk and mealie meal. When meat had become a delicacy reserved only for special events.
When the two most famous men in the country became the “serial zero slasher” Dr. Gideon Gono and the business terrorist-in-chief Dr. Goodwills Masimirembwa. These two men literally ran the country as they fancied, several times their decisions being clearly devoid of any logical reason.
Who doesn’t remember these examples of that seriously bizarre period?
1. The reintroduction of long discarded and virtually valueless coins.
2. The slashing of prices for all commodities by half, when thousands ran to hoard whatever they could lay their hands on, leaving big retail powerhouses like Jagger’s on their knees.
3. The slashing of zeros on several occasions and the ridiculous bearer cheques and agro cheques which were printed using bond paper.
4. The “burning” of US Dollars, which resulted in colossal amounts in bank accounts, which strangely enough you couldn’t even withdraw.
5. When anyone who had had the privilege of having any forex in their bank accounts woke up to find that the government had “borrowed” their money, never to repay it.
6. The National Statistical Office giving up on recording inflation figures.
I remember the hopelessness that took over on the streets, in the homes, in the offices. The terror, the despair and fear that was apparent in eyes of most. I remember the reported acts of terror, which those who witnessed speak so animatedly about. Thinking back to that time, now that it’s in the past, one question remains on my mind, how did we even survive?
I have my fingers crossed, this time around, may Lady Peace, (if she exists) please smile upon us.