The epistemic circular combating the pandemonium of the secular — Part II
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 email@example.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