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 Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Analysis & Opinion - Jo­ram Ny­athi Spec­trum

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

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