Home » Governance » Time to Document Our History [editorial]

“When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground,” goes an African proverb informed by the realisation that orature was the vehicle through which history was passed from one generation to the next.

As such when repositories of that knowledge or experiences breathed their last, it was akin to having a valuable community library burning to the ground.

Our senior citizens and even younger adults have much to teach the nation about life and about ourselves if we provide avenues through which their wisdom and experiences can be shared.

Over the years we have made trips to the National Heroes Acre and various provincial acres for the burial of national and liberation war heroes.

And with each shovel of earth we threw on their caskets a valuable part of our history was buried for good never to be accessed by all who will come after us.

There are two sides to a story, and we have not done much to tell our own even as Western presses roar night and day churning out literature that tries to belittle our struggle for independence and democracy.

In fact, the Rhodesians we vanquished and their kith and kin all over the world have been busy playing the hunter while we dutifully remained mum like lifeless prey.

Our nationalists, national heroes and former freedom fighters have not done much, if anything to record their wartime experiences for the post-independence generations and posterity

One by one the venerated nationalists have crossed to the other side of silence with their precious memories, taking with them a wealth of information on their wartime experiences.

We are burying more than just bodies but a valuable part of our history that we are losing for good.

The bottom line is our national leaders have let us down by not writing books detailing the history of the struggle.

Ironically, ex-Rhodies and their kith and kin have been churning out books by the year, painting the united Zanu-PF and President Mugabe in bad light while portraying themselves and those of their ilk as the wronged ones.

A visit to any bookseller at OR International Airport or any reputable Western bookseller will show row upon row of Rhodesian or European interpretation of Zimbabwean history and its leadership.

Add to this the attempt by the MDC-T leadership to re-invent themselves and their quisling agenda as a logical extension of the liberation struggle and what remains is a dangerous attempt at revisionism that needs robust countering.

The likes of Morgan Tsvangirai who lasted no more than 24 hours in a liberation war camp today claim life was better under Rhodesia and ahistorical youths with no access to the real stories of the brutality of successive settler regimes can be easily taken in by such misguided utterances.

The best way to counter these reactionaries is to record our history so that future generations will know the source of the cloud that does not bear water.

Why don’t we have books on or by President Mugabe? The late Vice Presidents Joseph Msika, Simon Muzenda? Why don’t we have books by or on Mai Joice Mujuru, General Solomon Mujuru, Josiah Magama Tongogara, Herbert Wiltshire Chitepo, etc what’s stopping our writers from interviewing these luminaries and compiling their history?

Can’t we see we are being willing accomplices to the West and the nascent revisionism within the regime change ranks?

A few years ago an ambitious programme dubbed capturing a fading national memory and headed by University of Zimbabwe historian Dr Manungo was launched, but nothing came of it, and that national memory indeed continues to fade.

Who will we blame when our children take Heidi Holland’s view of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe as gospel truth?

We can’t understand why, for instance, if semi-literates like George W. Bush have books on the shelves, our own revolutionary leaders seem averse to leaving documented history for posterity?

Source : The Herald