When will jus­tice be done?

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gov­ern­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe once in­di­cated that a panel of learned Zim­bab­weans would be set up to write the lib­er­a­tion his­tory of this coun­try.

How­ever, noth­ing had ma­te­ri­alised by Novem­ber last year when Mr Mu­gabe and his gov­ern­ment fell from power un­der Op­er­a­tion Re­store Legacy — even af­ter such a long stretch of time when his­to­ri­ans should have come up with the story of our revolution in or­der for born-frees as well as other peo­ple in the global vil­lage to know that the freedom this coun­try now en­joys did not come on a platter.

Iron­i­cally, Zim­babwe School Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil (Zim­sec) as­ses­sors last year thumbed their noses on a book by a com­mu­ni­col­o­gist who lived through op­pres­sion of blacks in Rhode­sia and lived and worked in ex­ile chron­i­cling the ex­ploits of freedom fighters back home be­fore re­turn­ing to Zim­babwe at In­de­pen­dence to ob­serve the tran­si­tion from white to black rule.

The Zim­sec as­ses­sors re­port­edly said they would not rec­om­mend the book ti­tled Crea­tures at the Top for use in schools be­cause it also fea­tured top po­lit­i­cal per­son­al­i­ties.

The ti­tle from the book was adopted from Mr Mu­gabe, then as Prime Min­is­ter in the early years of In­de­pen­dence when he de­nounced some of the lead­ers in his ad­min­is­tra­tion as “crea­tures at the top” who spoke their voices hoarse about so­cial­ism by day but by night shrilly em­braced cap­i­tal­ism, thereby op­pos­ing the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts of turn­ing the new born coun­try into a so­cial­ist state.

It was iron­i­cally those same crea­tures at the top who by their huge cap­i­tal­ist ap­petite and anti-povo stance con­trib­uted to Mu­gabe’s fall from power and grace.

The Chris­tian faith in Zim­babwe is historical. But if as im­mor­talised in the Holy Bi­ble the his­tory of Chris­tian­ity clearly tells how its founder and son of God, Je­sus Christ, was vil­i­fied like a crim­i­nal, and fi­nally nailed on the cross along with two crim­i­nals, why should lesser be­ings — in the per­son of po­lit­i­cal crea­tures at the top — be spared ex­po­sure by the pen to im­mor­talise their po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial dis­con­ti­nu­ities as hye­nas in sheep­skin?

A univer­sity lec­turer, just over two years old at the time of in­de­pen­dence in 1980, is among young Zim­bab­weans who told this writer that they strongly be­lieved that jus­tice re­mains un­done in the ab­sence of of­fi­cial historical ac­counts of the freedom struggle to en­able the fu­ture lead­ers of this coun­try to avoid the dark pe­ri­ods of white rule and with that knowl­edge also steer clear of any temp­ta­tions to be­have in ways that brought about dis­tress to other mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

In that re­spect, there­fore, the young stock, or born-frees, said the ab­sence of an au­then­tic or of­fi­cial his­tory about how the coun­try lib­er­ated it­self from alien rule was an injustice to the young peo­ple who needed guid­ance to avoid pit­falls that caused vi­o­lent con­flicts in the coun­try re­sult­ing in the armed struggle.

He and oth­ers of his age cited po­lit­i­cal re­marks by one leader “who smelt breast milk” at the time of the birth of the new Zim­babwe as demon­strat­ing ig­no­rance about the past as a result of the ab­sence of an au­then­tic his­tory of how Zim­babwe came to be.

The politi­cian in ques­tion was quoted in the media as threat­en­ing to chuck out of Zim­babwe WHEN, and not if, he came to power af­ter the har­monised elec­tions next month na­tion­als from a for­eign coun­try that helped build for us bridges from Rhode­sia to Zim­babwe and then crossed the same bridges to help our peo­ple set them­selves up eco­nom­i­cally.

[That the politi­cian did not say he was mis­quoted, can only tell a big story about his knowl­edge of who ren­dered a help­ing hand in free­ing this coun­try from op­pres­sive rule.]

Surely the con­cerns of born frees about the ab­sence of an of­fi­cial Zim­bab­wean his­tory of the lib­er­a­tion struggle should make the next gov­ern­ment af­ter in­de­pen­dence con­sider moves for the writ­ing of Zim­babwe’s lib­er­a­tion his­tory an ur­gent next step so that for­eign­ers may also un­der­stand why Zim­bab­weans pride them­selves on their hard won in­de­pen­dence and freedom.

Yes, one his­to­rian Mr Phathisa Ny­athi of Bu­l­awayo, is known to be writ­ing the his­tory of Zipra, the mil­i­tary wing of the Zim­babwe African Peo­ple’s Union (Zapu) — an ac­count that will ob­vi­ously be one-sided with­out a com­ple­men­tary ac­count of the armed struggle by Zanu’s for­mer mil­i­tary wing, Zanla. NOW that ev­ery­one has de­cided to get fit and join an ex­er­cise class, it’s time to plan and pre­pare for what lies ahead. Just like any other place, you will need proper at­tire, maybe some equip­ment, and def­i­nitely a good at­ti­tude be­fore you go. One more thing you shouldn’t for­get is to mind your man­ners.

There are quite a num­ber of ex­er­cise classes in Bu­l­awayo and if you’ve never been a mem­ber of any of them, you may not know what is or isn’t ex­pected of you. To all those who are mem­bers of a par­tic­u­lar gym, it’s not a bad idea to read over some eti­quette tips so you don’t be­come that per­son ev­ery­one avoids.

Ba­sic gym man­ners are im­por­tant es­pe­cially now that the vast ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­lace is joining ex­er­cise classes to keep fit. Dif­fer­ent age groups are at­tend­ing gym ses­sions, for body build­ing, while oth­ers go there to ex­er­cise and keep their bod­ies in shape. Ei­ther way, what­ever rea­son you hold, the gym is a so­cial set­ting and like­wise, you are ex­pected to show cour­tesy and be po­lite to your fel­low mem­bers.

A well groomed mem­ber will firstly learn the class rules that are there for ev­ery­one’s safety and com­fort. Your in­struc­tor or the fa­cil­ity where the classes are held may have some things that are spe­cific to them. Take time to fa­mil­iarise your­self with the gym fa­cil­i­ties and if you are not sure how to op­er­ate par­tic­u­lar equip­ment, there is no harm in ask­ing — “even the ge­nius ask ques­tions”.

Wear ap­pro­pri­ate at­tire and if you’re not sure of what to wear to your ex­er­cise class, ask when you sign up. I have seen ladies who let ev­ery­thing hang out as they bend and stretch in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. If you’re not sure about an out­fit, try it on at home. Move around in front of a mir­ror to make sure you won’t em­bar­rass any­one by show­ing parts they don’t want to see.I al­ways say, there is a time and place for ev­ery­thing.

Chances are high that you will sweat from all the moves, but make sure you put on enough de­odor­ant to keep the smell bear­able. What­ever you do, please don’t stink up the place. You surely don’t want other mem­bers to avoid you.

Show up on time — most classes be­gin with warm-ups and stretches, and you don’t want to miss out on that, or you risk be­ing in­jured. Also, show­ing up late will dis­rupt the class, which is ob­vi­ously rude. Al­low for per­sonal space — leave ad­e­quate space be­tween you and the peo­ple around you so you don’t bump into each other with flail­ing arms and legs.

The fact that dif­fer­ent age groups are at­tend­ing the same ex­er­cise class with you should not tempt you to be an at­ten­tion hog. You might be the best salsa dancer in town, but when you join a Zumba class, do the rou­tine that the in­struc­tor teaches. Save your best moves for the dance floor.

Chitchat later – when you’re in an ex­er­cise class, pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions are dis­rup­tive and un­fair to the oth­ers who are there to get in shape. If you can’t resist the urge to gos­sip, when you’re with your friends, avoid the temp­ta­tion by split­ting up and go­ing to a dif­fer­ent part of the class. You can al­ways get to­gether for cof­fee or brunch af­ter the ses­sion is over.

Please de­sist from judg­ing oth­ers. You may have taken the class be­fore, or you might be some­one who catches on eas­ily the first time you at­tempt a new move. That’s not the norm. Other peo­ple may be awk­ward and struggle with ev­ery new ex­er­cise the in­struc­tor demon­strates. In­stead of laugh­ing at them and mak­ing them feel bad, give them a smile and thumbs-up to en­cour­age them.

Leave your cell phone in a locker – don’t be that per­son who gets calls and texts dur­ing an ex­er­cise class. It’s rude to the in­struc­tor and other mem­bers who are there to get fit.

Don’t cre­ate a bot­tle­neck. If the fa­cil­ity where your class is lo­cated has a booked sched­ule, chances are, there will be an­other class ahead of yours. Wait for them to leave be­fore you try to en­ter. Also don’t stand in the door­way chat­ting with a friend or the in­struc­tor.

Stay with the rou­tine — you might have a move that you think is bet­ter than the in­struc­tor’s but this is not the time to show off. That said, if you’re in­jured or can’t do some­thing, it’s gen­er­ally fine to do a mod­i­fied ver­sion.

Clean up af­ter your­self — bring a towel, ex­er­cise mat, and any­thing else you need for the class. When it’s over, pick up ev­ery­thing and stash it in a tote. Don’t leave gum wrap­pers or any­thing else on the floor for some­one else to pick up.

Just as im­por­tant as the warm-up, the cooldown ex­er­cises will help pre­vent in­jury. And leav­ing early is just as dis­rup­tive as ar­riv­ing late. Since ex­er­cise classes have be­come a hobby for most pro­fes­sion­als, why not take the op­por­tu­nity af­ter class to net­work, make new friends and cre­ate re­la­tion­ships. It is way eas­ier to start a con­ver­sa­tion in a more re­laxed so­cial set­ting.

I know ex­er­cise classes maybe dif­fi­cult, but you should still have fun get­ting fit. Whether you do it alone or with a friend, keep your at­ti­tude pos­i­tive and focus on your goal. At the end of the day, you must en­joy and have fun.

Jus­tice Si­mango is a Busi­ness Eti­quette and Groom­ing Ex­pert who writes in his own ca­pac­ity. He is a mem­ber of Toast­mas­ters In­ter­na­tional. Feed­back: jus­tices­i­mango4@gmail.com

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