Zim­babwe: Im­por­tance of Self-Be­lief, even Ar­ro­gance

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Opinion - ◆ nathaniel.man­heru@zim­pa­pers.co.zw

In his­tory and to the out­sider, Zim­babwe has al­ways been a fab­u­lous il­lu­sion. An Ophir. An El Do­rado, a home to the Queen of Sheba. If the wishes of early Euro­pean “pathfind­ers” were horses, Zim­babwe would have wound up a Ger­man colony, pos­si­bly with Karl Mauch loom­ing large in place of Ce­cil John Rhodes.

The Por­tuguese, even though the im­pe­rial fore­run­ners, hardly ven­tured be­yond coastal forts in any mean­ing­ful, oc­cu­py­ing way. The Bo­ers, while an ag­gres­sive, land-hun­gry trekking lot, had long de­tached from Hol­land, their orig­i­nal home­land which, any­way, suf­fered from a weak im­pe­rial colo­nial im­pulse.

Ger­many came late, al­though it then moved at su­per­sonic speed, as be­hoves Ger­man cul­ture. But un­like Rhodes who had the means from di­a­mond mine­fields and whose ar­che­typal im­age was that of a su­per­man be­strid­ing a whole con­ti­nent, his eyes see­ing far, very far, Ger­many’s drab equiv­a­lent of Rhodes — Karl Mauch — was not only with­out means; his daily eye never saw forests their end­less Sa­van­nah and top­i­cal end­less ex­pan­sive­ness.

It saw the wood, the tree, the stone, the grain, in its con­crete im­me­di­acy; he saw de­tail where oth­ers en­vi­sioned con­ti­nents, worlds. He was a ge­ol­o­gist, a man of lo­calised sam­ples. Soil type, re­sul­tant veg­e­ta­tion, the rock, the gneiss, the gnarled mu­pani, of­ten even fail­ing to make it to sum­mits of small, but rocky hills where de­fen­sive na­tive huts hung so pre­car­i­ously, and where com­mand­ing views of vast lands could be es­pied. In short he lacked a broad view.

Not the nar­ra­tive of con­querors

Much worse he ac­knowl­edged “an­cient min­ers” — Africans, and bore vivid wit­ness to African agri­cul­tural in­dus­try: by way of “the fe­male part of the (na­tive) pop­u­la­tion . . . en­gaged in plant­ing sweet pota­toes and ground-nuts”.

He even saw very nu­mer­ous na­tive pop­u­la­tions and recorded for his­tory “their so many foot­paths cross­ing each other or di­vid­ing one from an­other, (such)that a good guide (was) needed”.

As he moved from one pop­u­lated kraal to an­other, on­wards to the fa­bled North — the land be­yond the Lim­popo — he con­fessed to be­ing “con­tin­u­ally asked about “Where to?”. With the un­con­trolled sale of guns to na­tives, mainly by tro­phy-hun­gry English hun­ters, he fore­saw a time when Africans would rev­o­lu­tionise fron­tier war­fare, tilt­ing ta­bles against the for­eign oc­cu­piers.

And here is the moral. Sim­ply, an eye im­bued with and driven by, feel­ings and de­sires for impe- rial, colo­nial con­quest, never “sees” na­tive pop­u­la­tions, never tes­ti­fies to na­tive sense of sov­er­eign own­er­ship, or ac­knowl­edge na­tive in­dus­try, na­tive civil­i­sa­tion, let alone re­sis­tance, how­ever dis­tant. That is not how im­pe­ri­al­ism sees the lesser world, the world for con­quest. Never!

It re­pu­di­ates all these virtues, to cre­ate a tab­ula rasa, to cre­ate some vast, un­in­hab­ited empti­ness, all to jus­tify even­tual oc­cu­pa­tion. Check Bri­tish im­pe­rial nar­ra­tives. To the piece, they are all un­fail­ingly self-serv­ing, lu­cidly writ­ten rhetor­i­cal lies of “empty” lands; with oc­ca­sional per­func­tory no­tice of dirty and soul­less hea­thens en­coun­tered here and there, more as an anom­aly on oth­er­wise empty vast­ness invit­ing oc­cu­pa­tion, so badly need­ing a Scot­tish mis­sion­ary, le­git­i­mate com­merce, a paci­fy­ing blun­der­buss, con­quest and even­tu­ally, “civilised” rule — di­rect or in­di­rect — and ex­ploita­tion only best done by an English­man! A Lu­gard, a Rhodes, a Kitch­ener!

For you can’t ac­knowl­edge na­tive pres­ence and na­tive civil­i­sa­tion, with­out brand­ing your­self a rep­re­hen­si­ble in­vader in the process. The Bri­tish knew this very well and lived true to it. This is why they had to in­vent the Phoeni­cians, to ex­plain away the Great Zim­babwe Mon­u­ments! This is why they had to in­vent Nde­bele butch­ery of the hap­less Shonas, to mo­bilise for and com­plete the in­va­sion of Zim­babwe.

Lat­ter-day Ger­many

Well, Mauch could not have known all that. He was a mere ge­ol­o­gist and from a small state that was still to en­large into a uni­fied na­tion-state. Ger­many, the coun­try he would rep­re­sent later in his ad­ven­tures, only be­came a uni­fied na­tion-state in 1870, a mere twenty years be­fore the con­quest and oc­cu­pa­tion of Zim­babwe.

As a rule of his­tory, loose con­geries of small, war­ring states have never mor­phed into con­quer­ing Em­pire-builders abroad. Check their record in his­tory. Even Italy never be­came a mod­ern, com­pe­tent im­pe­rial power be­fore the “risorg­i­mento”. I mean Italy, not Rome! Be­fore Garibaldi and Mazz­ini.

Un­til 1870, Mauch did not have a Ger­many, a Na­tion, a State to back up his ef­forts. There were only loose states, the same way most African poli­ties were. And in some ar­eas, Africa had em­pires, sprawl­ing em­pires much big­ger than most prin­ci­pal­i­ties of Europe. Mauch’s jour­neys into South­ern Africa, into Zim­babwe, had started in 1868; he only cel­e­brated Ger­man Uni­fi­ca­tion two years later, while travers­ing the south­ern tip of Africa.

That means the forced for­ma­tion of present-day Zim­babwe in 1890, was a mere twenty years later than Ger­many!

When we beat them all

It gets me very, very an­gry, when white his­to­ri­og­ra­phy which we con­tinue to rote-learn, to re­cy­cle, to pump into the heads of our hap­less kids, treats state for­ma­tion as a pre­rog­a­tive of West­ern civil­i­sa­tion, as a mea­sure­ment of ad­vanced hu­man civil­i­sa­tion, in the process dis­count­ing and damn­ing us, we who were en-route our own Risorg­i­mento, our own uni­fi­ca­tion.

For all that white his­to­ri­og­ra­phy is ready to ad­mit, the Nde­bele State was big­ger, more multi­na­tional, more uni­fied, than Bavaria or Milan. It was a coun­try of many na­tions, strat­i­fied into cat­e­gories as any other in Europe. It has its own English, its own Scots, its own Welsh, mea­sured ac­cord­ing to prox­im­ity to roy­alty.

The Enhla, the Zansi, the Hole: noth­ing new, but all kneaded into a solid na­tion. We could talk about the leg­endary Mun­hu­mu­tapa Em­pire, way back in his­tory, for which no equiv­a­lent state can ever be found in Euro­pean his­tory. Not even ef­fec­tive Ot­toman Em­pire at its zenith, it­self not Euro­pean, ap­prox­i­mated the land of Mun­hu­mu­tapa, let alone its grand civil­i­sa­tion, so ev­er­last­ingly etched in stone, in an­cient gold mines, in vast transoceanic trade.

Not even its high moral­ity: a state which never traded in slaves, for all its cel­e­brated om­nipo­tence, prox­im­ity to the oceans through which slave ships plied. Only traded gold, sil­ver, ivory and other fauna. Ahh! What now!

Hear me, ye Honourables

I get very an­gry, which is why I have aban­doned all else for lessons in his­tory, I, orig­i­nally a stu­dent of lit­er­a­ture. Our min­is­ters, please harken my call! Min­is­ter Dokora — now a whole Doc­tor: a new cur­ricu­lum needs a new his­to­ri­og­ra­phy, one steeped in fac­tual Afro­cen­tric­ity, one re-in­scrib­ing and re­cen­ter­ing our own.

The facts are there, re­silient enough to have sur­vived a sear­ing and de­ri­sive Euro­cen­tric his­to­ri­og­ra­phy per­fected over more than a cen­tury, much of it founded on stark lies, starker, vac­u­ous claims. Min­is­ter Ncube, the man in charge of Her­itage: your bur­den goes be­yond mere cus­tody, mere cu­ra­tor­ship of mon­u­ments shaped in some Euro­cen­tric in­ter­pre­tive mi­lieu; rather, it sub­sists in over­throw­ing that schol­ar­ship, in restor­ing and mak­ing the na­tional her­itage a liv­ing tis­sue for a free Zim­babwe, for a con­scious peo­ple, rooted in his­tory.

Min­is­ter Jonathan Nathaniel Moyo, the Pro­fes­sor: leave those scur­rilous and thought­less 140-let­ter tweets, all to mo­ti­vate and or­ches­trate real re­search, to build and or­gan­ise real knowl­edge, with- out doubt al­ways your forte, your com­pe­tence! Not this dab­bling in Zanu-PF suc­ces­sion pol­i­tics you know you will not win. Chine vene va­cho chinhu ichi and you won’t be there when great ques­tions of the day are set­tled mu­matare avo! Too young, too small, sim­ply a late ar­rivant, my good soul-mate! You, me, all oth­ers like us, must do what we know and do best: qui­etly re­make our worlds by re­mark­ing the knowl­edge that an­i­mates and moves them.

Not this shal­low de­bate about a “mug” and a “boss”! As if Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe ever drinks from a mug, let alone called or known by the awk­ward ap­pel­la­tion of “Boss”. Not even frag­ile, hy­per­sen­si­tive at all to be both­ered by such stuff! Not the man I know. Rather than seek­ing to re­make him through our small thoughts and inane sen­si­tiv­i­ties, let us re­make and deal with great is­sues he has as­signed us: or­gan­is­ing higher knowl­edge, in your case.

When schol­ars led

Many ex­am­ples, mod­els to go by, whether through pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions or neg­a­tively through in­spi­ra­tional re­jec­tion. The South Africans. Be­fore them the Nige­ri­ans. And be­fore the Nige­ri­ans, the In­di­ans: these great na­tions em­barked on projects to re­write na­tional his­to­ries, to re­paint na­tional por­traits, well away from the de­hu­man­is­ing tropes in­vented for them by colo­nial­ism.

All done from uni­ver­si­ties, led by gi­ant schol­ars of those lands. In­dia in the late 1960s, in the 1970s. In­dian re­con­struct­ing its civil­i­sa­tion many cen­turies Be­fore Christ. They now have a tome by way of a pub­li­ca­tion se­ries on In­dian civil­i­sa­tion up to the year the Bri­tish Raj left their ter­ri­tory.

The Nige­ri­ans rode on the Unesco project of the late 1960s, im­ple­mented more force­fully in the early 1970s, to give us a gen­eral se­ries on African his­to­ri­og­ra­phy and his­tory. De­riv­ing in­spi­ra­tion from that, Nige­rian re­search and writ­ing teams led by schol­ars like Pro­fes­sors Anene and Ajayi, sup­ple­mented by West­ern his­to­ri­ans for bal­ance, founded and set new pa­ram­e­ters for his­to­ries of their coun­try and then in­cor­po­rate these into schools as teach­ing mod­ules.

Our own Chanaiwa had some­thing to do with the Unesco project. Dr El­leck Mashin­gaidze who wal­lows in ob­scu­rity in Bu­l­awayo, ad­mit­tedly un­well bod­ily, but ever- sharp men­tally, knows a lot and is well cited. Dr Bhebhe, now re­tired, al­though still ac­tively mould­ing young his­to­ri­ans.

Cou­pling all that na­tional brain­wave to young his­to­ri­ans — the likes of Dr Piki­rayi, Dr Web­ber Ndoro, Dr Ed­ward Matenga — au­thor­i­ties on our an­cient past; the likes of Dr Mazarire, Dr Gat­sheni-Ndlovu, Dr Nyam­bawaro, for the im­me­di­ate pre-colo­nial and colo­nial. Surely?

The myth of pa­tri­otic his­tory

Thabo Mbeki cre­ated a chair on Re­nais­sance stud­ies at Unisa. The South African gov­ern­ment has cre­ated a huge grant for the re­con­struc­tion of na­tional and sub-re­gional his­tory, a grant open to re­searchers across cam­puses, across coun­tries even. Not long from now, we shall find our­selves de­scribed yet again, heirs of Mun­hu­mu­tapa, Mzi­likazi, who do not seem to know that a good and lusty STEM is one sit­ting on solid roots of a na­tional his­tory.

We who would rather re­cede into parochial pol­i­tics of Mth­wakazi, than ex­pend our en­er­gies in re­con­struct­ing grand nar­ra­tives that be­fit a great sprawl­ing civil­i­sa­tion we are known to have been. Late Ter­rence Ranger, a more nu­anced stu­dent of Pro­fes­sor Hugh Trevor-Roper — that racist who re­pu­di­ated African his­tory, ar­gu­ing all there was was the his­tory of the white man in Africa — Ranger, his stu­dent was no fool to spon­sor the no­tion of “pa­tri­otic his­tory”, it­self an ef­fec­tive, pseudo-aca­demic way of dis­suad­ing us from rewrit­ing and re­claim­ing our his­tory, while in­dem­ni­fy­ing per­pet­u­a­tion of white “pa­tri­otic” his­tory which ob­jec­tify us as “the” his­tory.

Is it not in­ter­est­ing that in later life, Ranger — may his soul rest in peace — was busy re-edit­ing and re­pu­di­at­ing core premises of his mildly lib­eral his­to­ri­og­ra­phy? Es­pe­cially af­ter our land re­forms, which he dis­puted was never part of the na­tion­al­ist agenda!

A last­ing as­sault on a peo­ple starts with an ap­pro­pri­a­tion of their past, their his­tory. Know that all ye men and women of so-called in­de­pen­dent Zim­babwe. But hark, I wan­der off!

Tack­ling the great Ophir

This Karl Mauch, a poor, un­der-re­sourced im­pe­ri­al­ist though he may have been, iron­i­cally fed the big­gest and most ◆

◆ last­ing il­lu­sion that trig­gered and val­i­dated im­pe­rial in­ter­est in our small, great coun­try, lead­ing to its even­tual in­va­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion.

His July 23, 1871 long en­try, writ­ten at Kleine Spelunke, Al­basini’s Farm, “Good­ewen­sch in north­ern South Africa, a mere four years af­ter he first set foot on Zim­bab­wean soil and while still on his way back for a se­cond and by all counts, fate­ful visit to our land, in part read: “In the sight of the re-united Father­land (Ger­many, whose uni­fi­ca­tion had hap­pened just the year be­fore), stand­ing in the fore­front of all the Na­tions (Bis­marck, the first uni­fied Ger­man Chan­cel­lor, would leave a mark in global im­pe­rial pol­i­tics by con­ven­ing the Berlin Con­fer­ence of 1884, at which rules for the so-called par­ti­tion­ing of Africa were cob­bled, agreed and writ­ten) and with the im­age of the Kaiser, crowned with vic­tory, may now the “most valu­able and im­por­tant, the hith­erto most mys­te­ri­ous part of Africa” be tack­led, the old Monomo­tapa or Ophir! May God help me!”

His hope, for which he ac­costed prov­i­den­tial pow­ers, was to be­come the ar­row­head of Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion of Zim­babwe.

A Ger­man Ce­cil John Rhodes! His ac­count of his min­eral find in the Selous area, not far from Harare, an ac­count clearly ex­ag­ger­ated, was to trig­ger the rush for the con­quest and oc­cu­pa­tion of Zim­babwe, then im­aged as the “se­cond Rand”, as highly min­er­alised.

The Ger­mans sought to reach it from the At­lantic, from present-day Namibia; the Por­tuguese claimed it on the strength of old pres­ence and agree­ments with African po­ten­tates, the most no­tably Chief Mu­tasa of Man­ica, now Man­i­ca­land.

The Bo­ers had made many hunt­ing and diplo­matic for­ays, in­clud­ing the ill-fated mis­sion of Grob­ler, re­port­edly later mur­dered by Rhodes’ men, or at Rhodes’ in­sti­ga­tion, in present-day Botswana.

Zim­babwe, yes, less a firm land, more a con­vo­luted idea of in­ex­haustible min­eral riches, a hy­per­bolic gold mine with no bot­tom!

Sur­fa­cial sovereignty

Let me be ac­cu­rate. The early mak­ers of this myth were the Por­tuguese who had traded with the Mun­hu­mu­tapa Em­pire in the 16th and 17th Cen­tury. Amaz­ingly, they “saw” not just gold, but sil­ver as well.

Un­less my knowl­edge is faulty, Zim­babwe has no known de­posits of sil­ver. Yet early Por­tuguese re­ports spoke of fab­u­lous de­posits of gold and, es­pe­cially of sil­ver, then a key min­eral.

And the Por­tuguese were care­ful to lo­cate their in­ter­ests in gold and sil­ver — never on land which they knew meant so much to the na­tive and would trig­ger end­less wars of re­sis­tance. The na­tive, they rea­soned, had no in­ter­est in, and knew no value in min­er­als, ex­cept as a dug-out com­mod­ity for ex­change with the crazy white man for stripes of gar­ment, “micheka”, for or­na­men­tal beads, “chuma”, and more im­por­tant, for much-needed guns, “magidi”. The na­tive sense of sovereignty was sur­fa­cial, never touch­ing sub­soil riches which only the crazy white man wanted and prized, and which he would dig and then leave!

It was a fa­tal mis­read­ing of the white man, and of the na­ture of min­ing ven­tures them­selves, as Loben­gula was later to know af­ter an hon­est in­ter­pre­ta­tion from Charles Helm, the Catholic priest, and well way af­ter ap­pend­ing his “x”, and stamp­ing his ele­phant seal on the fate­ful Rudd Con­ces­sion of 1888. You dig the sur­face of the land to reach the min­er­als; you need land on which to build shel­ter that houses you while you dig; you need land from whose bounty you feed the hands that dig out the min­er­als; above all, you need to pacify the land that car­ries the min­er­als you need, which means “civilised” gov­ern­ment, “civilised” peace, “civilised” laws and, above all, “civilised”, Chris­tian sub­jects, well schooled in the good, ironic com­mand­ment: thou shalt not steal! From the white in­vader of course!

They chased an il­lu­sion, a rain­bow

Still, in spite of the cen­tral­ity of land to the ex­ploita­tion of Zim­babwe’s fa­bled min­er­als, Rhodes’ band of in­vaders never thought of work­ing the land un­til much later, af­ter the bub­ble of min­eral il­lu­sion had burst. Soon af­ter their dis­band­ment, barely a month from oc­cu­pa­tion, they spread them­selves out — very far and very wide — all the time re-cast­ing Rhodes’ starry eye into a fixed gaze onto the land, more or less like lat­ter-day Mauches. The broad vi­sion for con­quest had been re­alised; a re­fo­cus on the minu­tiae was what was now needed. They raked the land, scoured al­lu­vial de­posits of ma­jor rivers, checked, tested rab­ble from an­cient work­ings, rum­maged and ri­fled stone mon­u­ments, all in search of gold and/or payable de­posits. From the dis­puted Shashi, right up to coal-rich Hwange, the land was scouted and scoured, pegged for nu­mer­ous claims that traded rich even though un­known, untested, on sec­ondary mines mar­kets of London. Lords and dukes of London, both great and small, staked and bought shares in these finds, fore­most claims of Rhodes’ Bri­tish South Africa Com­pany, alas all founded on grand il­lu­sions of fab­u­lous min­eral riches. We are a land that has al­ways traded on puffed-up sen­ti­ment, much of it vac­u­ous. An ad­ver­tise­ment, hardly a prod­uct of real, match­ing in­trin­sic value. Only much later, in any case well af­ter the sale had gone through, did Rhodes tell the avari­cious world: “ev­ery mine has a bot­tom!” What if there was never a mine in the first place? Well, you ran ahead of an an­gry, lynch­ing in­vestor-crowd by breath­ing your last in 1902, amidst a spon­sored line from a world-famed im­pe­rial poet, one Rud­yard Ki­pling. What a great es­cape! Not a bad trick for Min­is­ter Chid­hakwa, our man in charge of mines and min­er­als!

The good Chi­adzwa mi­asma

Fast for­ward to late 2000, the years of Chi­adzwa Di­a­monds! This time it was De Beers, not Carl Mauch. The Jews, not the Ger­mans, who fed the il­lu­sion. More im­por­tant, the tak­ers were na­tives — our­selves, we of this land — not Bri­tish colo­nials, backed by lords and dukes from the im­pe­rial home­lands. Chi­adzwa was rich in di­a­monds. So rich that Zim­babwe would con­trol up­wards of 23 per­cent of world sup­ply in rough di­a­monds! Nay, 30 per­cent! Kikiki! Europe went crazy. An­twerp, the di­a­mond city. So did the In­di­ans of Su­rat, the world’s cut­ting and pol­ish­ing cen­tre. United Arab Emi­rates; the Chi­nese, the Rus­sians, the Ghana­ians. Ahh why men­tion na­tions, peo­ples? Sim­ply the whole world went agog, with Min­is­ter Mpofu — of the Eland Clan, my clan — sit­ting at the cen­tre of this mighty bub­ble! Aero­dromes, army de­ploy­ments, great con­tro­ver­sies, all dog­ging this new, splen­did find. A cor­nu­copia, a long-awaited, long-in-com­ing wand to wipe out and off all mis­eries, to end na­tional shame, in­deed to turn the na­tional cheek smooth and ro­tund, un­til then ema­ci­ated and per­fo­rated by jut­ting bones of want!

Damsel Zim­babwe, co­quet­tishly strut­ting the ramp, cov­etous eyes trans­fixed on her cur­va­ceous frame! As al­ways the il­lu­sion of plenty had been in­vented by an out­sider; as un-al­ways (you need a new lex­i­con, new con­struc­tion, away from old English), the il­lu­sion had been swal­lowed by the in­di­gene, in­tox­i­cat­ing him for days on end!

There was a puff and spring in the na­tional step, and it felt good, great! Big con­trap­tions by way of me­chan­i­cal dig­gers were mo­bilised and soon started eat­ing, eat­ing the sa­cred earth of Chi­adzwa; de­vour­ing it, night and day, know­ing no rest, in rain and in thun­der, non­stop! And the re­turns, though mod­est, al­ways made fab­u­lous by me­dia-stoked il­lu­sions, hope and great ex­pec­ta­tions that far sur­passed what ge­ol­ogy coun­selled, far sur­pass­ing re­al­ity, as great­est does least, to adapt the well-known English bard, one Wil­liam Shake­speare (Muam­mar Gaddafi — now late — would have said “Sheikhs­peare”, in the process de­mand­ing Arab parent­age to the great play­wright!).

A con­ver­sa­tion with The Great One

I have a great dis­clo­sure to make, even then at the risk of con­tra­ven­ing a sa­cred Act I signed and am sworn to. What is more, a dis­clo­sure that risks blow­ing my cover as a colum­nist — by now yet an­other il­lu­sion! Here I go: It’s a fine Mon­day morn­ing, and we are hav­ing a prayer with the Great One. Then a great con­ver­sa­tion started: “Sir, this claim that we lost $15bn-worth of di­a­monds?” Great, ca­cophonous laugh­ter from The Great One. “What $15bn, young man? What was the value of rough di­a­monds traded world­wide last year?” An­other roar­ing laugh­ter! “About $14 comma some­thing bil­lion, Sir!” “So-ooo!?#*£¥€? Yet an­other round of reck­less laugh­ter. Then the bomb­shell: “Fig­ure yan­dakan­go­taura zvangu kuti zvi­tyise, kikikiki!” “Ahh shefu, zvino ma­ti­vam­bira neOp­po­si­tion!” More laugh­ter! “Ha­meno zvako, that’s for you to deal with. I wanted to drama­tise the need for us to take to­tal con­trol of our Di­a­mond re­source; to en­sure full ac­count­abil­ity of its ex­ploita­tion, and I achieved the na­tional fo­cus I wanted. The change that’s nec­es­sary. Where else in the world is a strate­gic min­eral re­posed in for­eign­ers? Where? Zvimwewo izvo zvava zvako!” An­other round of laugh­ter, even more rau­cous. Palaver fin­ish!

Na­tions do need phan­toms

Since that light-hearted claim from on high, a rag­ing de­bate per­sists, of­ten gen­uinely be­lieved, but also self-serv­ing in the hands of an op­po­si­tion short of am­mu­ni­tion, of peb­bles with which to pelt the rul­ing Party. All to the amuse­ment of The Great One! Mine too! But again il­lus­trat­ing how sus­cep­ti­ble to claims of phantom riches this land is, its peo­ple are.

Ex­cept we knew how to har­ness this myth to na­tional good. We used it to break unity in the Euro­pean Union, thereby forc­ing its hand as a once uni­fied bloc to end sanc­tions! Na­tions do cre­ate il­lu­sions, use them, de­ploy them strate­gi­cally in na­tional strate­gic cal­cu­lus. Parched Bri­tain used claims of a Chris­tian heart to con­quer lesser na­tions.

The Jews, def­i­nitely per­se­cuted un­der Nazi Ger­many, to­day ride on ex­ag­ger­ated ac­counts of the holo­caust to keep the Pales­tini­ans un­der con­trol. The West nowa­days use the myth of democ­racy and rule of law to gain con­trol of oil and other raw ma­te­ri­als they need.

Bor­row then from Mauch, Rhodes

And Zim­babwe? Poor, wretches! We wal­low in small­ness. In mis­ery. In dead, hap­less egos. Our com­mand agri­cul­ture is do­ing ex­ceed­ingly well, all on the back of a good sea­son.

We drain our de­served hope on finicky con­cern and fix­a­tion with small thefts of in­put! On the back of a promis­ing har­vest, and mea­sures we have adopted to re-start our econ­omy, we aim for a pal­try 1,7 per­cent growth rate. It is the World Bank — an out­sider — who tell us we are set for a 3.8 per­cent growth, higher than the con­ti­nen­tal av­er­age. We con­test it, don’t be­lieve it, even don’t want it! We are ed­u­cated, very well ed­u­cated. Unesco says so. We tra­duced and trash our achieve­ment in knowl­edge, by which we rule the sub­re­gional roost.

Much worse, more painfully, we run from our coun­try, even urge out­siders to put pres­sure on us so we can ex­er­cise our demo­cratic right to vote from be­yond our bor­ders.

But check mi­gra­tion statis­tics: we have gained more for­eign­ers, mostly Euro­peans, more than any other coun­try on the con­ti­nent.

We run away from the coun­try oth­ers con­spire and cheat to come to! Chi­iko nhai? A bit of Nige­rian bois­ter­ous­ness, that’s what we need.

Even re-bas­ing our econ­omy, our­selves to ride the never-never cloud of great­ness.

Just a mod­icum of self-im­por­tance, ar­ro­gance: that’s all we need.

If we can­not in­vent both, just bor­row from Mauch and Rhodes, and we are al­right.





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