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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: The Audacity of Hope

By Luke Tamborinyoka

The title for this week’s piece is borrowed from Barack Obama’s 2007 book published by Canongate Books Limited. The title speaks to a people’s avowed faith that all shall be well; that a day shall come when their aspirations and the toil of their endeavour, nay the labour of their sweat, shall all yield a positive change in their lived circumstance.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

The audacity of hope is an aphorism that I feel encapsulates the mindset of every Zimbabwean at this political juncture; the faith that the dangling scarf shall throttle and choke its owner and that those repressing the people today will be washed away by the torrents of history. The audacity of hope denotes the unstinting faith that tomorrow can only be a better day and that a people’s desires and aspirations shall bear fruit well within their lifetime.

For Barack Obama, the audacity of hope is a phrase he says he borrowed from his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr, who used it as a title for a sermon. Obama, who was to use this forceful dictum as a title for his book, had also used the powerful phrase as the main theme for his speech when he delivered the keynote address as a relatively unknown politician at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

The conventions of the Democratic Party are grand occasions of passion and people power, they are inspiring fiestas for avowed social democrats. I came face to face with the lively, exuberant spirit of the DNC when I accompanied President Tsvangirai, then the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina in September 2012. I was humbled by the mass-centric thrust of the occasion and the optic showcase of people power. We missed our plane back home, having been delayed and held rapt by the wonderful sight of a determined people’s unstinting faith that their chosen politics can make meaningful, positive change in their lives.

For Barack Obama, the audacity of hope is a phrase that best defined the American spirit; the audacity to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that hope still held even for a people and a nation torn by conflict, repression and hate.

Hope is audacious. Hope keeps a people astride their aspirations, in the optimism that what they desire shall be fulfilled one day.

Hope charms and soothes the heart. Hope is a sweet chariot that ferries despondent souls from the hopelessness of their lived moment to the comfort of their fancied destination.

The audacity of hope.

Hope keeps people alive. For it is only the power of unfettered hope that can assuage weeping souls, just as a mother’s lullaby calms the crying baby on her sweaty back.

My sister born after me was named Edina Tariro. And Tariro, the Shona word for hope, is a popular name in our communities. It sums up a stubborn and arrogant faith in a better future. It denotes a yearning spirit for a better life–an unstinting faith that all shall be well and that as a people, we shall one day live our collective fantasy, our collective dream.

In Zimbabwe, it is the audacity of hope that still carries our spirit, that exhorts us to carry on with the struggle—-the sheer gall and stoic belief that our effort and toil for a better country will definitely not be in vain.

For us, the audacity of hope refers to our conviction that Zanu PF’s onslaught to perish the people’ s movement will come to nought. We know—and we are certain—that through our own tenacity, we shall break the Zanu PF leash tying our collective fate to the incompetent hand of this wicked, clueless and murderous lot in government. They may arrest us, brutalise us, strip us of what rightfully belongs to us but we shall prevail.

Every generation must leave the country a better place than they found it. Only then can they stare history in the face and say their stint on this earth was worthwhile and well-deserved.

A despondent nation of a hoping people

Without a job, with no safety nets in the wake of this pandemic and struggling to feed his eight children, John Tembo in Mvuma can only hope that this health disaster comes to an end so he can vend on the roadside once again. The audacity of hope.

For Esther Chihwa and Smart Taundi of Harare Central, the dip in the Covid-19 mortalities has ushered in a renewed sense of hope. It is the hope that by-elections will soon be held so they can reinstate their chosen representatives who were recalled by the colluding parties they defeated in the last election.

Across the country, the people had chosen their councillors and MPs and these have been needlessly recalled and a fresh set of representatives foisted upon them, in some cases the people imposed on them are the same people they had rejected at the polls.

It is the people’s hope that they will soon deliver a cardinal lesson to Zanu PF and its surrogates that the people are sovereign; that leaders come from the people and that no one can recall the people’s unfettered choice except the people themselves! The audacity of hope.

Voters are hoping and waiting for their day in the ballot box in by-elections that must now be held as a matter of urgency so that the people get their fresh chance to restate their position that Nelson Chamisa and the MDC Alliance remain the sole repository of their faith, trust and confidence.

The people are itching to send out a sonorous message of who their true leaders are. The by-elections can’t be banned forever. They will clear this planted mist of confusion. We are well past the 90-day period in which by-elections should have been held and the people are hoping and waiting for their hour. The audacity of hope.

The people of Chilonga too are caught up in the throes of hope. They too are hoping that for once, their worth and value be seen as greater than that of lucerne grass. They are hoping that normalcy returns and a true leadership takes over that understands that their worth is taller than lucerne grass. The audacity of hope.

When you have a government that believes that people should be evicted from their ancestral land so that the President’s friend can grow grass for his dairy cows, a people can only hope that sanity and decency returns to the corridors of government, even if that government imposed itself on them.

Since 2000, Zanu PF has peddled the propaganda mantra that the MDC is a party of puppets, a party that fronts the interests of whites, the interests of capital. Now that the Shangaani people of Chilonga, the indigenous people of this land, are being evicted so that Mnangagwa’s white friend can grow grass for his cattle, it is now clear who the puppets are.

The question of who is playing puppet politics has now been sufficiently settled!

The unemployed people of this country, the despondent citizenry in the villages, in the urban areas and in the mining towns are all hoping for a chance to express their outrage. You don’t steal a People’s source of livelihood, a people’s future, a people’s land and birthright then go further to pilfer their party, the party name and recall their elected representatives, grab their party headquarters and the money due to them and still hope things will be normal.

No, the people will certainly come for you!

Hope is audacious. Even negative hope exists too. And negative hope is equally audacious.

Negative hope is the hope that you can repress a people forever and they will do nothing about it.

It is that hope when you lie to yourself that you will be able to vanquish a people’s party and a people’s leadership and recreate a similar entity under the leadership of stooges and surrogates.

The negative hope that the criminal lot in government will deliver and change the country’s fortunes, including a Willowgare criminal sworn into office only 48 hours ago. Criminals can only run a government in a kleptocracy—a government of thieves. And Zimbabwe does not deserve to be a kleptocracy.

While negative hope is audacious, history has shown that in the end, it is only well-meaning hope that endures and that will ultimately prevail.

Conclusion

The dip in Covid-19 – related deaths means we are slowly reuniting with our rights that had been put in abeyance in the wake of this global pandemic, most importantly the rights of assembly, movement and association.

The right to petition and protest remains sacred, especially in the political moment that engulfs us. Our society will grab the chance to express its full revulsion at this despicable lot in government that is mismanaging our affairs, arresting, brutalising and killing people and dimming their collective hope.

Hope alone is not enough. Hope alone is vacuous and grossly inadequate in solving the key questions of the day.
A people must act to push through the fulfillment of their hopes. You don’t just hope to become a medical doctor and then believe that your hope is enough to make you one; without going to school, without attending medical school and without taking the requisite practical steps to actualise your hope.

Even little David did not just hope for the giant Goliath to disappear from his face. He acted to bring his hope to fruition. He took a stone, put it on his sling and practically acted against the gargantuan human edifice that stood before him.

In the 1970s, our brothers and sisters did not just hope for Rhodesian repression to desert their desolate lives. They acted on their convictions, took up arms and fought a liberation struggle.

Times have changed. I am not saying we must take up arms. The point is a repressed people must go beyond hoping and take practical action to change their situation by actualising their hope.

It is simply not enough to hope.

Sometimes history needs a push, a helping hand. And the time has come in this country for the people to give history a huge push. Perhaps the time has come to nudge history by seeking sanctuary in section 59 of our Constitution, itself a Constitution that we made ourselves and endorsed in a referendum.

Hope is audacious but the people themselves are certainly more audacious than their hope.

Welcome to the efficacy of people power!

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa . You can interact with him on him on his Facebook page or on his twitter handle @ luke_tambo .

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