The following is a speech delivered by ICT Minister and MDC-T National Organising Secretary Nelson Chamisa at the Quill Club in Harare debating the legacy of Samora Machel and the contemporary challenges of Southern Africa.
…..How revolutionary was and is the struggle for liberation?
Friday 19 October 2012 – Quill Club Harare
An address by honourable Nelson Chamisa
Distinguished colleagues, Comrades and friends,
Fellow Zimbabweans and Africans,
“The struggle in Zimbabwe is our Struggle”…..”When bullets begin to flower”…”Aluta Continua”
These were the words of the African giant, Samora Machel, in 1975 in the context of the noble liberation project and agenda in Zimbabwe and Africa.
As a favoured African and proud Zimbabwean, I am greatly excited to have the historical opportunity to share my thoughts and cross-pollinate ideas on the legacy of an icon, a champion and indeed a luminary African son of the soil, Samora Machel.
I am extremely humbled to be given the platform to unpack and interrogate the contemporary challenges of the region, in the process, examining to what extent the liberation struggle has realised its ideals, fulfilled or betrayed them.
On Friday, 19 October 1986, I was at Vumba, my Primary School in Gutu. It occurred to me that at the age of 8 and in grade 3, I received the news of the tragic and untimely departure of Cde Samora Machel. We had lost a brother, a father, a Cde, a leader, a freedom fighter and indeed an African giant.
At this stage, I was armed with the scant consciousness that the definition of an African was not geography, language, pigment but the heart and the mind.
Cde Machel represented an idea. Yes, the idea of total liberation, and freedom, the idea of peace and liberty, the idea of pursuit of happiness and justice, the idea of the will of sovereignty of the people. The idea of self solutions to African problems. The idea of servant leadership and serving the people.
Cde Machel’s struggle was a struggle for a better life for all. A struggle for self determination; indeed a struggle for a prosperous Africa. A struggle for dignity (ubuntu). This was Sankara’s struggle, Steve Biko’s ideals, Nelson Mandela’s hope and walk, Kimathi’s aspirations , Tongogara’s yearning, Chitepo’s vision and Nkrumah’s dream and struggle. A legacy of hope, a legacy of victory, a legacy of struggle is what we were bequeathed and inherited from the principled and exemplary leadership of Cde Machel.
Democracy is a journey and a destination, one generation starts the journey, the other finishes it. Our generation has a duty and obligation to fulfil the aspirations of our founding fathers and complete the great journey that they started. I look to the future. I gaze at tomorrow, I see a great Africa, a great Zimbabwe. I sense and feel the great capacity deep within and among us to complete the glorious journey and reach the promised and promising land.
As Cde Machel would say, “The struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle……….Aluta Continua.”
It is key to pose hard and penetrating questions about the import and connotation of these great words from a giant.
What was the struggle and why should the struggle continue?
It is my humble submission that the struggle was the struggle against imperialism and subjugation, a struggle against hunger and deprivation, a struggle against tribalism and balkanisation of the African people; a struggle against hopelessness and marginalisation. Indeed, a struggle to end all struggles.
The struggle was for equality, freedom, prosperity, development, plenty and happiness. Cde Machel was a grassroots politician who believed that the African and indeed the Zimbabwean struggle was a struggle against a system and not an individual; a struggle against a mindset and heart-set and not just a mere group-set.
The fight was to end hardship and not massage it. True, the fight was to non-exist all forms of apartheid and not co-exist with them.
One may want to pose, Why should the struggle continue, even beyond paper and flag independence or any assumed arrival point?
Precisely because leaders are mortals and it is the habit and character of mortals to be fallible. Leaders sometimes betray struggles, leaders can mislead the masses, leaders can hijack revolutions instead of being hijacked by them and of course, leaders grow old.
A struggle is a project for all, by all and to all. It is for the led and not the leader.
A cursory audit and helicopter assessment on post-colonial Africa paints a sordid and gory picture. Taking a balance sheet of the liberation ideals against the post-colonial reality leaves us with a catalogue of deficits; the deficit of performance in all corridors and institutions of the State, a deficit of democracy, statecraft and craft competency and literacy, a deficit of freedom and the oxygen of liberty. It is a deficit of vision and leadership.
Experience has taught me that wherever there is a defiicit, it is a deficit of love. Wherever there is a shortage, it starts with a shortage of love. Cde Machel was an epitome of love, its very embodiment and constitution. That is why the struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle.
Cde Machel hosted our liberators in the liberation agenda at a time when he was grappling with other pressing domestic national exigencies You cannot host without love. Hosting is evidence of the existence of love.
Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara said this about revolutionaries: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”
This is precisely why from the remote village of Gutu at the age of 8, and only in the third grade, I experienced and felt the loss of that love although I had never met this giant.
This is what true leadership does. True leadership must inspire, not perspire or conspire. In our own case, who are we hosting? Playing host to Cde Mengistu?
Cde Machel believed in the people, had conviction in the spirit of sacrifice and was a reservoir of givenness and selflessness, a true calabash of justice and an oasis of hope.
The tragedy of post-colonial Africa, in my respectful view, is a tragedy of lack of love. It is a crisis of love, the love of the people, the love of our countries, the love of our economies and the love of our future generations. And this is why Cde Machel said, “The struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle.”
Tragically, in our own case, we seem to have defeated that which we admire, we fought that which we continue to mimick, we dislike that which we like. Evidently, we defeated white colonialists only to replace them with colonialism of a different pigment.
We vanquished the white settler colonialst, but not colonialism. We kicked out Smith, yet kicking in and entrenching Smithism. Literally copying, pasting, editing and perfecting the Rhodesian template of repression and autocracy.
Suddenly, we see false enemies, define fictitious saboteurs, behave like a leopard that accuses its young ones of smelling like goats to justify cannibalism and misguided infanticide.
We continue to ask wrong questions and give wrong answers, parroting and sloganeering, ranting and raving about imaginary enemies at the border when we are our own worst enemy.
Our conduct continues to provide fuel to our naysayers, cynics and doomsayers from the citadels of capital who justify their Afro-pessimism. Remember van der Byl, Desmond Ladner-Burke and Ken Flower? Remember the Special Branch, the Law and Order Maintenance Act, the Selous Scouts, the colour bar policies? Juxtapose these with our own post-colonial realities.
Laws are meant to make people happy and not withdraw from them divine providence and God-given nuggets of freedom.
Our post-colonial story is a sad story of false starts or dawns, unfulfilled promises, missed opportunities, neglected advantages, hanging and suspended aspirations, betrayed people and disappointed ideals.
Did Machel ever imagine an African leadership that would turn against its people? Did Machel ever entertain the idea of an African leadership that would turn parasitic and predatory? The Piranha State?
We are legendary on minoring in majors and majoring in minors, arguing about who should count people in a census. If we cant count ourselves, what else can we count? We cant even distinguish between the bullet and the ballot, a Constitution and an institution? Zanu PF is an institution and not a Constitution!
We remain saddled with calamities and ailments of State capture by a predatory elite practising pre-bentalism and neo-patrimonialism, being obsessed with a redistributive rather than a productive paradigm, the departure lounge mentality, the last supper mentality.
Neo-colonialism is upon us (centre-periphery dynamics), the changing of the rider. The centre has shifted from the West to the East with dire consequences to sustainable development and achievement of MDGs. There is a palpable absence of a matrix of leadership regeneration in most liberation movements.
We seem to enjoy more dreaming than envisioning. When we got our independence in 1980, the elite then never imagined 2012 would be upon us. That is why they had highsounding nothings like “Health for all by 2000”.
We must begin to build and emphasize institutions rather than peronalities. Having a vision of the future, for example getting to 2030 before 2030 gets to us! We have moved from Great Zimbabwe to Zimbabwe Ruins.
We must smash neo-colonialism, liquidate exploitation, crash corruption and punish incompetence. All wise and always. We must preserve Samora Machel the idea as much as we celebrate samora Machel the legacy. Our cousins in the other party must desist from falling in love with Machel the person and not Machel the idea.
It is our duty to rebuild from the Zimbabwe Ruins to a Great Zimbabwe , realising our moment of glory.
So unless and until the bullets have flowered, the struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle. The bullets should flower through creation of jobs. The bullets should flower through happiness in our homes and communities. The bullets should flower through producing more and better-a surplus in everything.
Zimbabwe should be the head and not the tail. Africa should be the head and not the tail. Our natural position is a leadership position.We must make good the Great Zimbabwe and the United Africa promise.
I believe in this great and beautiful country. Remember the Mutapa empire, the Great Zimbabwe, the Rozvi dynasty, King Mzilikazi and King Lobengula, Ambuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi and the great Mkwati. I have studied the roots of this country. They have the capacity to sustain a great flower that will be the envy of every eye in the world.
I have glorified in the wisdom of its great heritage, tradition and its inimitable history. I marvel at the wisdom of our founding fathers and mothers. I am moved by the narrative of their sacrifice, givenness and fortitude.
As a generation and as a people, our cause may be misunderstood, our punchline disputed, our intentions questioned. The fundamental truth is that the struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle.
We are in the last mile towards real transformation. It is 3am in Zimbabwe. Dawn is upon us. A New Zimbabwe, a new beginning.
God bless you.
God bless Zimbabwe.
God bless Africa.
Let there be love!
“The struggle in Zimbabwe is our struggle.”