The epis­temic cir­cu­lar com­bat­ing the pan­de­mo­nium of the sec­u­lar — Part II

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Analysis - With Richard Run­yararo Ma­homva

THE 2016 edi­tion of this in­tel­lec­tual col­lo­quium was ad­her­ent to the thrust of other pre­vi­ous episodes of the sym­po­sium. From its in­cep­tion in 2013, Read­ing Pan-Africa Sym­po­sium (REPS) has been pro­foundly ef­fected by Lead­ers for Africa Net­work (LAN) to tran­scend in­fant the idea of be­ing an in­ter­face plat­form for writ­ers and read­ers in­ter­ested in pan-African thought — mis­named as a rad­i­cal in­tel­lec­tual al­ter­na­tive.

With a time­less prece­dent, lit­er­a­ture has in­flu­enced the po­lit­i­cal and so­cio-eco­nomic of many global so­ci­eties — in­clud­ing Zim­babwe. Lit­er­a­ture un­der­pins the world-views which de­ter­mine the en­counter of var­i­ous civil­i­sa­tion and the plu­ral­ity of lived hu­man re­al­i­ties. Due to that, the in­ter­est of the sym­po­sium is to merge var­i­ous lit­er­a­ture pro­duc­tion stake-hold­ers in fram­ing sus­tain­abil­ity tech­niques for the lit­er­ary sec­tor in Zim­babwe, in its thrust, cre­at­ing a space for gen­er­at­ing new knowl­edge on Ubuntu/ Hunhu as a pa­ram­e­ter of pan-African­ism.

On the other hand, the REPS sub­stan­ti­ates the LAN’s use of Pan-African­ism as a philo­soph­i­cal an­chor-sheet of ex­e­cut­ing its mis­sion of pro­mot­ing Afro­cen­tric terms of rea­son in a con­tested ter­rain of global dis­courses. The sym­po­sium fea­tured pro­lific African thinkers and cham­pi­ons of our be­ing ( Ubuntu/ Hunhu) namely; Dr Sa­mukele Hadebe of the Isic­haza­mazwi sesiNde­bele (Nde­bele Dic­tio­nary), Dr Ish­mael Mazam­bani, an African His­to­rian, and Dr Umali Saidi, an African lan­guage and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­pert.

The is­sues raised by other speak­ers left a huge im­pres­sion in my mind and of­fered a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this ret­ro­spect. All pre­sen­ta­tions stim­u­lated me to im­port el­e­ments of what I learnt to this public read. I even went fur­ther to pla­gia­rise the sym­po­sium’s theme and make it the head­line of last year’s in­stal­ment.

The mes­sage which syn­ony­mously ran through­out all themes from pre­sented pa­pers is that Zim­babwe and the rest of the con­ti­nent suf­fers epis­temic bul­ly­ing by forces of im­pe­ri­al­ism. Al­most ev­ery posited sub­mis­sion by pre­sen­ters and in­ter­ven­tions by the au­di­ence deeply ex­pressed how much African schol­ars are dis­grun­tled about the end­less ef­fect of knowl­edge im­pe­ri­al­ism.

There seems to be no free­dom of African rea­son, there is dom­i­nance of ideas which stand to serve the prej­u­dice of colo­nial­ism. Sub­mis­sions posited by REPS’ del­e­gates made the theme for this year’s edi­tion very rel­e­vant. The theme got me prob­ing my­self as to whether we re­ally have a “Zim­bab­wean idea” which cuts across all dis­ci­plines of our academia?

The lo­co­mo­tive driv­ing the on­to­log­i­cal pace for the dis­mem­bered “third-world” has seen the con­tin­ued pe­riph­eral iso­la­tion of this wretched part of the globe. The supremacy of the West and its cap­ture of knowl­edge power has falsely made the third-world a zone of no rea­son.

This ex­plic­itly ex­presses how the prej­u­dice of colo­nial­ity has been con­served through var­i­ous bod­ies of main­stream knowl­edge which un­der­mines other knowl­edge(s). We con­tinue to live within the false at­tributes of marginalised dis­courses of Africa as a “Heart of Dark­ness” (Con­rad 1902). As such, we give nods to the myth of the West as a fac­tory of all ideas which shape all as­pects of hu­man-sci­ence, eco­nomics and pol­i­tics in Africa.

The long gone seem­ingly phys­i­cal crush of the em­pire has not re­lieved the con­ti­nent from the in­sti­tu­tional op­er­a­tions of im­pe­ri­al­ism. While we talk of the phys­i­cal crush of colo­nial power in Africa, we need to be cog­nisant of how other parts of the con­ti­nent are still un­der colo­nial phys­i­cal bondage.

The com­mer­cial farm lands are still owned by a huge chunk of the im­pe­ri­al­ists in South-Africa, Mozam­bique, Zam­bia, Malawi and many other African coun­tries.

How­ever, it is an es­tab­lished fact that Zim­babwe through the high pan-African pedi­gree of the rul­ing Zanu-PF has suc­cess­fully at­tempted to ef­fu­sively dis­en­tan­gle the phys­i­cal colo­nial clout. Zim­babwe has re­claimed the land as a birthright of her peo­ple. Un­like other African re­publics we have gone beyond be­ing sat­is­fied about cos­metic flag in­de­pen­dence. Zim­babwe has stood firm in re­claim­ing her po­lit­i­cal econ­omy. This is be­cause one can­not claim po­lit­i­cal power with­out a dig­ni­fied eco­nomic high ground.

This is the rea­son why the colo­nially-set ne­go­ti­a­tions for free­dom were more po­lit­i­cally cen­tred than they com­man­deered eco­nomic free­dom of the African. Why was the thrust of the Lancaster Agree­ment on grad­ual land loss com­pen­sa­tion?

Why was there cos­mic em­pha­sis on rec­on­cil­i­a­tion other than ad­dress­ing the found­ing griev­ance of land loss of the African lot?

e fore­run­ner at­tempts by some war vet­er­ans to force­fully treat their land hunger ren­dered them “squat­ters” by the colo­nial­ists who claimed to be the right­ful own­ers of the in­vaded farms. They had the bind­ing terms of our ne­go­ti­ated in­de­pen­dence as the source of ra­tio­nale to con­tinue the op­pres­sion of the ma­jor­ity. All this hap­pened in the in­ter­est of pro­mot­ing the “idea of Zim­babwe”. It’s quite ob­vi­ous that the idea of Zim­babwe was il­lu­sive, it was meant to serve tem­po­rary tran­si­tional in­ter­ests.

Dur­ing that pe­riod lit­er­a­ture was more na­tion­al­ist cel­e­bra­tory than it was crit­i­cal of the gaps of ne­go­ti­ated in­de­pen­dence.

There was more em­pha­sis on cel­e­brat­ing the newly found po­lit­i­cal power. As we would all re­mem­ber, this was the time per­spec­tives of lib­er­a­tion his­tory were told from a per­spec­tive of ab­so­lute tri­umph of na­tion­al­ism.

The warn­ing by Frantz Fanon (1961) about watch­ing against “pit­falls of na­tional con­scious­ness” be­came a lesser pri­or­ity. I guess it was quite nor­mal for “the peo­ple” to be more im­mersed in cel­e­brat­ing be­cause this coun­try was blood-earned. This is even cap­tured in our mu­sic with Thomas Map­fumo’s song ti­tled Pem­berai.

The song sum­mons Zim­bab­weans to end­lessly cel­e­brate the cre­ation of Zim­babwe. The song even in­vites gen­er­a­tions to come to con­tinue cel­e­brat­ing the birth of Zim­babwe.

Cel­e­brat­ing the birth of Zim­babwe be­came a per­ti­nent as­pect of the im­me­di­ate na­tion­build­ing mantra. This hype was ac­cel­er­ated by the coun­try’s his­tor­i­cal lit­er­a­ture which had a ho­mogenis­ing ef­fect on be­long­ing.

For in­stance, Ranger (1970) posits that Zim­babwe is a prod­uct of a ho­mo­ge­neous lib­er­a­tion tra­jec­tory and de­coloni­sa­tion project.

How­ever, Ranger’s sub­mis­sion at­tracts crit­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion as it presents the Chimurenga as a “re­volt”. Con­trary to the ac­cepted na­tional nar­ra­tive, a re­volt in colo­nial Zim­babwe’s con­text would im­ply go­ing against an ac­cept­able maxim. The term of­fers an apolo­getic em­pha­sis on colo­nial­ism as an ac­cepted form of gov­er­nance which was met with re­bel­lion by its African sub­jects.

The reader is made to be­lieve that by then Africans were go­ing against a le­git­i­mate form of gov­er­nance. This largely em­anates from the cen­tral the­sis of Ranger’s re­search which places great em­pha­sis on the rel­e­vance of a com­mon African re­li­gion which catal­ysed the mo­bil­i­sa­tion process of forces of re­sis­tance in oust­ing colo­nial dom­i­na­tion prior to these pre1965 “wars.”

Ranger as­serts that African cultism uni­fied the Nde­bele and the Shona in their re­sis­tance to colo­nial­ism.

This points out how much lit­er­a­ture was no­tably used to achieve a cel­e­bra­tory imag­i­na­tion of the idea of Zim­babwe. Works of other his­to­ri­ans like David Beach, Stan Mu­denge and Prof Ng­wabi Bhebe re­mained at the cen­tre of build­ing a mem­ory of the coun­try and in some spa­ces such lit­er­a­ture was used to per­pet­u­ate the idea of Zim­babwe.

The land re­form and the awak­en­ing mo­ments of the Zim­bab­wean idea

The po­lit­i­cal-econ­omy of Zim­babwe of­fered an awak­en­ing episode in terms of the coun­try’s na­tional con­scious­ness. The launch of the Eco­nomic Struc­tural Ad­just­ment Pro­gramme (Esap) was an eye-opener to the im­pov­er­ished cit­i­zenry of Zim­babwe on how neo-colo­nial­ism had pounced on the land. It is against this back­ground that there was in­tense de­mand for land. It was the bat­tle for land which set the mo­tion for loy­alty shifts of Zim­babwe’s academia from the state ori­ented “na­tion­al­ist” nar­ra­tive.

This fol­lows the in­creas­ing anti-es­tab­lish­ment lit­er­ary po­lar­i­ties of new na­tion de­con­struc­tive nar­ra­tives since the com­mence­ment of the Land Re­form Pro­gramme in the late 90s. Since the launch of the Land Re­form Pro­gramme cou­pled with po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic chal­lenges, the academia be­came more crit­i­cal of is­sues of gov­er­nance, hu­man-rights, democ­racy and free­dom in gen­eral.

There­fore, it is im­por­tant to probe how land as a think-tank is set­ting the pace for think­ing in Zim­bab­wean terms. To be con­tin­ued.

Richard Run­yararo Ma­homva is an in­de­pen­dent aca­demic re­searcher, Founder of Lead­ers for Africa Net­work — LAN. Con­vener of the Back to Pan-African­ism Con­fer­ence and the Read­ing Pan-Africa Sym­po­sium (REPS) and can be con­tacted on rasmkhonto@gmail.com AL­LOW me space in your peo­ple’s pa­per the Sun­day News to air my views on po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, peace and unity in Zim­babwe and the whole world in gen­eral. As we ap­proach the com­ing wa­ter­shed gen­eral elec­tions next year let us all em­brace one spirit of unity, na­tion­al­ism, pa­tri­o­tism and love and peace in our hard-won coun­try.

All good things come from Almighty God and peace we en­joy is good and let’s thank Him for his grace. But as we move for­ward to vote to elect var­i­ous lead­ers of all lev­els, let’s re think back, so as to move for­ward. That this coun­try was won back from op­pres­sive im­pe­ri­al­ist forces by blood and fire is in self an act of God of the same mag­ni­tude as the free­dom of the an­cient Is­raelites from Egypt in the Bi­ble.

So I am call­ing all those who re­spect this hard-won in­de­pen­dence to choose wisely the val­ley, rivers, moun­tains and caves of both Zim­babwe and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries to free this coun­try. We may have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to our coun­try’s prob­lems but for now and on­wards let’s all close ranks and re­tain the party that gave us this hard-won free­dom.

Peo­ple recog­nise some­thing of value only af­ter it’s lost or taken away. You cry for your lost wife or hus­band or child only when you lose them. So we don’t want to lose our free­dom and cry only af­ter it is lost.

Var­i­ous forces are at work to re­verse all we have gained by spon­sor­ing some par­ties as fronts to achieve their agen­das. I am call­ing all Zanu-PF cadres from dif­fer­ent wings to close ranks. I may fight with my wife but when in­trud­ers come to burn our house we all stop and fight the en­emy. So war vet­er­ans youths, women’s league, every­one let us close ranks for the com­ing of elec­tions and re­tain power.

On the world scene I call all peace lov­ing peo­ple to raise their voices loud to de­nounce who­ever wants to pro­voke a nu­clear war that can erase all life on earth. Life and peace and the whole ecosys­tem on planet earth should not be al­lowed to dis­ap­pear in a flash of fire.

Every­one in the world can use the so­cial me­dia to de­nounce any move by any pow­ers to uni­lat­eral cause the peace of the world to dis­in­te­grate. Church lead­ers, youths, women’s league we can raise a loud voice to de­nounce this. God for­bid it and we pray.

Richard Ncube (war vet­eran and Zanu-PF Com­mis­sar), Mat­land South.

Prof Ng­wabi Bhebe

The late Dr Stan Mu­denge

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