By Tendai Kwari
We have always had tribes existing next to each other precolonial era. While it is true that colonial governments emphasised ethnicity in their policy of “divide and rule,” they can hardly be said to have created ethnic divisions.
Is it surprising then that the modern African speaks the same tribal language of divide and rule? Is it a surprise then that the modern Zimbabwean speaks against and mocks other tribes in our motherland? Is it a surprise then that a Shona mocks, ridicules, belittles and insults a brother or sister from Masvingo?
I am not from Masvingo but a proud Zimbabwean. I am a Zimbabwean first before my tribe. I am a proud Zimbabwean first before my Humba-Makombe clan. I proudly fly the flag of my nation and I love it. I love being a Zimbabwean. I love Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is my Zimbabwe as much as it is yours.
If you happen to be one of these fellow Zimbabweans creating mocking and spiteful memes to target the people of Masvingo, I encourage you to redirect this initiative to developmental issues in Zimbabwe. As a devil’s advocate, suppose I propose that these Masvingo memes are a product of the G40, a Zanu PF faction aiming to discredit Lacoste faction from Masvingo. Unknowingly, the online moles molesting the people from Masvingo could be driving someone’s political agenda.
There are a lot of social, economic and political issues bedevilling Zimbabwe and we must use this energy to rebuild Zimbabwe. The social media tool is powerful and we should harness it to share developmental issues. We must debate about the future of Zimbabwe. We have great political activism going on in Zimbabwe and we need to harness this energy for the good of the nation.
We are all Zimbabweans first before we become political affiliates. For too long, we have been divided along tribal lines. This weakness has been exploited by unscrupulous politicians who use it as a weapon against their opponents from other tribes. Shallow minded politicians often exploit tribal loyalty to advance personal gain, parochial interests, patronage, and cronyism.
Tribalism has caused a lot of misery in Africa. Think of the panga wielding Kikuyus and Luhyas of Kenya. The 1994 genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda should have jolted us out of this idyllic stupor. The massacre of the Ndebele people in Zimbabwe is still an open wound on our conscience.
Ethnic cleansing is a result of ingrained hatred of other tribes and is usually politically motivated. We are entrenched in genocidal tribalism, which is a tragic result of decades of political manipulation by our politicians to incite hatred in order to control and retain power.
Well, in a much more modernised world, for instance in United Kingdom, Gordon Brown ran that country as a Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer. The issue of Brown being a Scottish became irrelevant at national level. Yes, he met some tribal challenges from shallow minded people alike, but the impact of tribalism is of less significance in more developed democracies.
As we approach our next harmonised elections, we must remember that tribalism can hijack any democratic process. We must emphasise the importance of building Zimbabwe around ideas rather than clan or tribal identities.
While we are busy creating and making viral sickening Masvingo memes, Zanu PF is busy campaigning from cell, ward, branch, province and national levels. Even if the electoral field is uneven, let us register to vote en masse. Let us campaign hard in our respective political parties.
By so doing, we will make it harder for anyone to rig the elections. We can use social media, such as WhatsApp and Facebook to educate our families in the impenetrable Zanu PF stronghold rural Zimbabwe. We need to make them understand the importance of making a right choice on Election Day.
Most of the voters aged 18 – 40 are on mobile phones with WhatsApp and Facebook platforms in Zimbabwe. Let us take advantage of this technology to rebuild Zimbabwe and to grow our democracy. Tribalism is detrimental to nation building.
Our attention should not focus on trivial tribal mockery. Let us scrutinise the impact of the MDC coalitions. In order to avoid a coup or a civil war after Mugabe, let us agitate for a peaceful leadership transition from the president. Let us task our members of parliament and demand for answers.
Let us debate and focus on the future of Zimbabwe. There are a lot of issues bedevilling Zimbabwe. Let us channel our ideas on how to develop Zimbabwe, not on ridiculing fellow tribes’ men and women. Let us refuse to be used by politicians and further antagonise ourselves on tribal lines.
Tendai Kwari – Son of the Soil.