What the nabobs of negativity miss
We tend to live our lives too much in the newspapers and social media, those spheres of human contrivance where little symbols reflect and mirror an individual’s imaginations in ways that are not always possible to match in the real world. There is life o
THE number of passionate negative predictions about the current year is more than enough to take one’s breath away. Enough to make one almost believe the sun may not rise tomorrow. Or that life could just come to an end.
Not even the heavy rains and the rioting greenery are propitious enough to lift the gloom. It’s deeply unfathomable, and everyone appears “happy” enough to contribute their own bit of prophecy to the stack of “facts” on why there can be no silver lining to the brooding cloud scudding imperceptibly over the nation of Zimbabwe.
We simply have no mercy for our own physical and mental health.
We love to indulge and exaggerate our perceptions of unrelieved and irredeemable suffering, and to banish all hope, so much so that the only time we laugh at ourselves is when somebody, a stranger even, brings up something that further illustrates how hopeless our situations is, how we are such a failure as a people and need divine intervention.
This is pervasive in the mainstream and social media, and then given flesh at every gathering. All the fun is at our own expense, not as positive humour or edifying satire, but the dead weight of a simple unbelief that we are Zimbabwe and can chart a path for Africa to emulate, that we, especially we formally economically and politically marginalised black Zimbabweans, are pioneering and founding an ethos for which we shouldn’t expect praise from the former colonisers because it necessarily diminishes their influence over us.
Against the gloom, the rains have come with a promise of abundance. It’s been a long time, perhaps since 1982, that we have had so much rain — divine embrace and blessings for Command Agriculture. And there appears to be a lot of hitting the clod, planting and tending crops of different varieties.
There is life in the country beyond the concrete sterility of Harare. There is life outside the newspapers. There is life outside the Zanu-PF factional fights and oppositional desperation to be noticeable through fusion and coalitions. People are out in full force, working the land, striving to produce for themselves, happy faces washed by the rains and not tears.
We tend to live our lives too much in the newspapers and social media, those spheres of human contrivance where little symbols reflect and mirror an individual’s imaginations in ways that are not always possible to match in the real world. There is life out there, beyond the constricting wheel of politics and elections.
I was indeed happy to be away in Mberengwa over the Christmas period: away from newspapers and social media, interacting with real people I know. Only to return to Harare with its New Year but unchanged, sterile and enervating politics.
There are changes though on other fronts, still political. The dire predictions of a catastrophe wrought on the nation by the introduction of bond notes have lost their ardour.
The “experts” have gone quiet except for coy admonitions to Mangudya against overheating the printing press.
Even Robertson has grudgingly resigned himself to the reality of the day. Real people have embraced them, as we predicted. Such people are not necessarily dependent on donor money for day to day living. They don’t care whether the Zimbabwe dollar comes green or yellow, or whether it enters the house through the front or back door. They want to transact.
And I saw them transacting for Christmas and New Year. I saw them transacting as the schools drew closer to opening day.
They were buying in bond notes, and happy too, while the media worked around the clock to build opposition coalitions or to mobilise people for demonstrations for causes yet unknown.
Related to the same: the big, ephemeral story of cash shortages and bank queues was dead by midweek. Banks looked desolate, but media were not there to capture the moment. There were no hungry and angry Zimbabweans sleeping on pavements waiting to “withdraw their hardearned cash”.
Have the banks run out of cash? Have people given up? Are they boycotting or rejecting the bond notes?
Things are far from rosy in Zimbabwe, but do we have to make them look worse than they already are, for whose edification?
The journey to Mberengwa was the initiative of a nephew who is based in Pretoria.
He brought with him four other relatives, including his three-year old son (who wanted to visit the home of his ancestors!), and his wife.
Before coming, they fretted over whether they would be safe given the political violence in the country? What foodstuffs should they bring? Would there be fuel to travel to Mberengwa and on to Bulawayo? Should they hire a vehicle from Avis? What was the state of the roads?
The media were and are communicating stories of political and economic turmoil. It was as if Zimbabwe were the epicentre of the El-Nino-induced drought, which has ravaged more than 23 million people in the Sadc region.
I told them to stop worrying and to treat social media hyperbole with extreme caution, lest they confused Zimbabwe with Libya or Syria.
They only believed me when finally a whole tribe of 15 souls in a hired kombi managed to swipe for fuel at service stations and travel all the way to Mberengwa, on to Bulawayo, back to Mberengwa and Harare without a single mishap.
The only harassment we endured were the police who penalised us heavily for the hired kombi because “it was off route”. That was our biggest nightmare of the entire week they spent here, outdone only by terrible news of a burglary which occurred at their Pretoria residence, forcing them to cut short a surprisingly extraordinarily enjoyable festive season back home.
Then there was SI64, which some wanted to exploit to stoke up violence and mayhem. It was predicated the ban on selected, non-essential imports would lead to mass starvation. After all there was no industry to protect, we were reminded.
As usual, “experts” were at the forefront, not armed with facts, but prophesies. Protectionism was not only anachronistic but didn’t work, so Government intervention was doomed and would backfire.
It is in fact industry that’s starting to fire back in response to that foresighted SI64 intervention.
Conversely, it is our southern neighbour South Africa which is beginning to pay a heavy price for “globalising” its poultry sector after it was seduced, manipulated and arm-twisted by America over AGOA.
Here is what the City Press has to say this week. It reports that 50 000 jobs will be lost as a direct result of poultry imports.
The news came from the chief executive officer of the South African Poultry Association, Kevin Lovell, who blamed the development on what he described as “unfair competition”.
He said South Africa’s production costs could not match competition, (another stab at local “experts” still trying to convince us the only way for Zimbabwe to improve trade competitiveness is to adopt the rand currency, not having a local currency!
Hear Lovell speak: “We have become a waste receptacle for the developed world. What it comes down to is that there is a need for the developed world like the European Union to get rid of waste, which is then dumped into our economy.”
I doubt there could be a louder call for a South African version of SI64.
The point being, Zimbabwe has so much energy wasted, just too much negative energy against our own wellbeing.
Other people see what we possess and how much we complain and wonder where we would rather be — hell?
The “experts” have gone quiet except for coy admonitions to Mangudya against overheating the printing press