Home » Governance » Wanted – Indigenous Narratives of Our Struggle [opinion]

ONE of the fundamentals that the revolutionary leadership must do for the benefit of the country’s sustenance of national memory is to commit themselves to document liberation narratives in their own words. The failure on the part of the revolutionary leadership in giving space to their narrative as a national duty to enhance national memory and contextualising their experiences has the inevitable effect of having other people interpreting and documenting our experiences according to their own biases and prejudices.

The need for multifarious narratives of the struggle cannot be over emphasised.

The sheer numbers of people who were active players in the struggle means that Zimbabwe should have been richly endowed with a multiplicity of narratives all adding value to the historical being of our nationhood.

The lethargic attitude of the revolutionary leadership in documenting their narratives has created a void that the likes of George Soros — Godfather of the subversive Open Society Initiative — have gladly filled through poisoned narratives by former disgruntled combatants like Dzinashe Machingura.

While his narrative has factual aspects, one cannot fail to decipher the pervading bitterness that threads through the whole book making it wholly subjective and patently narrow.

While Machingura can be forgiven for feeling like a jilted lover owing to the fact that he literally became a bystander in the formative years of the making of the nation-state of Zimbabwe, we have none but ourselves to blame for other narratives like Heidi Holland’s “Dinner With Mugabe” dominating the discourse of the liberation trajectory.

Of course, there exists a plethora of authors who include Terence Ranger, Ngwabi Bhebhe, Phyllis Johnson, David Martin, and the late Dr Stan Mudenge whose narratives about the struggle have been as comprehensive as anyone could get from any academic output but what is glaringly missing is a comprehensive narrative from the perspective of former combatants not so much of a critical analysis but a narrative of one’s personal experiences and how these reflect on the broader context of Zimbabwe’s struggle for autonomy. Even Fay Chung’s Re-living the Second Chimurenga cannot be anywhere closer to any narrative coming from a real combatant whose totem and umbilical cord is rooted in the land of Nehanda and Mkwati.

It puzzles the conscience of many why to this date not a single soul has challenged the bastardly racial narratives on Ian Smith: first Peter Joyce’s “Anatomy of a Rebel Smith of Rhodesia”, and his own autobiography “The Great Betrayal” which is full of self-amnesia and a clear affront to the wellbeing of Africans.

Sadly, in “Anatomy of a Rebel”, Joyce attempts to humanise Ian Smith’s obduracy as some kind of individual uniqueness of character. Rather, he presents Smith as a victim of conspiracy forces who sought to undermine his leadership, which was highly regarded by white Rhodesians.

Yet, even by Joyce’s own admission, Smith was a scantly educated fella whose reasoning was not just narrow but very limited to his own experiences as a RAF pilot and a farmer. His lack of tact, foresight and education is clearly exemplified by his limited vocabulary as shown by the repetition of certain phrases which kept propping up like: “I reiterate,” “Well, I don’t think that is something I would agree with . . . ” and “Countries to the north of us”.

His lack of foresight is exemplified by his failure to recognise the tide of the winds of change that were sweeping across the continent which any ordinary leader would have noticed and negotiate an early settlement without much bloodshed.

Source : The Herald