Letter From America
It would be useless to write about the United States when all Zimbabweans are experiencing a state of after-election shock. Those of us in the diasopora are also in a state of shock.
In this letter, I want to express the anxieties and hopes of many groups that I have been in touch with. The recurring theme is that their anxiety has led to some sense of hopelessness. They were praying for change.
My daughter, a political science doctoral student, has just returned from South Africa where she was doing research on the Zimbabweans in the diaspora. She says that there are two main groups. The first group consists of the professionals who left their homeland because of their expertise in education, engineering and the legal profession had become un-remunerative.
Among these were two judges. With such expertise, they were quickly absorbed into the upper echelons of South African society.
However, they missed their homeland. Whenever they met in groups, they looked north-east, pronounced the words “ekhaya, kumusha” as tears ran down their cheeks.
The second group, Rumbi says consists of the mwainachi (Kenyan term for the povho) who are poor but extremely hardworking and creative.
Both groups left Zimbabwe as economic refugees after the meltdown in 2000.
Thirteen years is a very long time. Both groups were traumatised. A professor, who was in his 50s, had left the University of Zimbabwe after 20 years with no pension. The Zimbabwe dollar had collapsed.
He was busy trying to put his life together again. A headmaster from Bulawayo, who had headed a 32-teacher comprehensive school, was sharing a bedroom with his daughter and son in law. He fled Bulawayo after two of his teachers were whipped at assembly.
Whether they were in the professional class or among the wainachi, both groups had suffered traumatic experiences.
The gist of her argument is that the mwainachi were so economically stressed that they could have survived only by faith and by hope. This is unusual perception for a political science major. That is why the elections in Zimbabwe brought so much hope and so much distress. There is certain finality about them. The elections confirmed the continuation of the status quo and the domination of the war veterans.
There was certain finality about these elections. The children of Abraham were doomed to stay in Babylon. Their hosts demanded that they sing to them songs of ekhaya, kumusha.
The only sweet song in this saga was the loss of a seat by Professor Jonathan Moyo. Moyo, we assume, was the evil genius who masterminded ZANU-PF comeback.
Now President Robert Mugabe can discard him as he has outlived his usefulness. I plead for forgiveness for rejoicing over the suffering of a brother. I will build a bonfire if the news that his cellphone and limousine has been taken away from him.
Brother Richard Tanyanyiwa, a shrink, sent me a timely memo on stress. “It is not easy to remain calm over an earthquake unless you are one Jesus of Nazareth who slept through a violent storm,” he wrote.
The end of the road for diasporans means that they must sing a different song in Babylon. Their situation has been given a stamp of permanence. That is a hard pill to swallow. The shrink, mentioned above, advices that sooner or later, we must cope with this stress, and one way is acceptance.
Brother Martin Fumai, an engineer in South Africa, now 40 years old, sought some advice. “Look at the ant,” I advised. “While the summer sun is high the sky, the ant prepares for the winter.” Our readers will notice that I did not mention anything about kumusha. Martin replied that that was exactly the advice his 90-year-old father had given him.
The point I am making is that, we, in the diaspora, are now like the rest of them, the Nigerians and the Kenyans, wonderers on the face of the earth, without hope. It is about the economy. Stupid!
The diaspora organisations, of which I am patron, are non-partisan.
However, since the majority of our people are economic refugees, they viewed a change of government as a change for the better. Zimbabwe had, at one point, become a casino economy and still could slide into that era again. The term casino economics was coined by Brother Gideon Gono. In a casino economy (gambling), while a few people get away with mega winnings, like Brother Philip Chiyangwa, most of the participants are certain to lose their money.
To blame Brother Morgan Tsvangirai for losing a game played in a casino is to miss the point. The MDC-T was a team. Tsvangirai was only the face of the party. Tsvangirai suffered 30 lashings, was beaten and left for dead, and for good measure, he survived a car accident. Yes, he drank from the devil’s chalice, the wine of decadence, but so did all the brothers.
Yet while the leadership must now bow out of the game, the two principles for which the MDC-T stand for are worthwhile.
The first is liberty.
Our white Sister Cathy Buckle says Zimbabweans have reverted to “whispering, looking over our shoulders, making sure no one is listening and being very careful what we say and even more careful what we commit to paper.”
The second issue is efficient economic management. ZANU-PF economic empowerment has destroyed the manufacturing base, thus returning the country into the dark ages. Obviously Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti cannot cross the Jordan because the nature of the struggle has changed.