Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Takura Zhangazha: Stubborn opinion, conjecture and feeling in Zimbabwe

I am not sure if there has been some sort of scientific study on this but I will hazard to argue that we Zimbabweans are a highly opinionated people. This is for various reasons. Some of them similar to other countries in Africa such as assumptions of the superiority of our education system.

Meaning our ability to speak English or mimic the political economic knowledge and cultural systems of our former colonisers. Including complex considerations of our generally unrequited desire for equal ‘recognition’ for these capabilities.

Hence for example we have inundated social media chat with convoluted explanations of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, something that fundamentally very few of us would easily understand.

Another reason for our being highly opinionated is the fact that we are can probably be classified as an angry people due to our economic conditions. Which we also blame largely on our ruling political establishment.

These economic conditions are those that have, to a greater majority of us, caused poverty and above all else stymied individual, not collective, material prosperity. Including our angst at the refusal of having some sort of messianic political solution that brings us back into the favourable gaze of the ‘international’ community. A process that has been as cyclical as it has been unsuccessful in calming down our emotional nerves.

Because of this, in the majority of cases our political opinions are pre-determined by our experiences and their attendant biases. Meaning that in most cases, they are essentially unchangeable.

In this I would almost dare a reader of this blog to crosscheck with their friends and relatives their opinions of ten years ago and present day to see if any of them has significantly shifted their views.

The third reason why we are this way is because of the medium through which we can convey opinion in the contemporary. And this is mainly via social media platforms that help aggregate or accentuate our emotions via algorithms.

Because of a long standing limited media environment, these platforms are more for our own catharsis than democratic public interest journalistic content. Even for professional journalists themselves. Or political, religious and other society leaders.

The fourth element that reduces a more organic agency of opinion is a sad disdain for our own cultural productions. And this is historically understandable due to the fact that the era of colonialism sought to limit our appreciation of them.

While the post-colonial period has inundated us with cultural products from the global north that essentially shape our understandings of what is preferable. More so with the expansion of social media and cultural product streaming platforms such as Netflix.

By cultural products here I mean movies, music, literature, visual art, theatrical drama, fashion design and architecture. But its mainly those things that entertain us in the form of the audio visual (films and western news channels) and our envy of what we see and hear. As well as the biases it represents.

For example, I remember a friend of mine who was an avid supporter of the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as though he was watching Rambo movies. I sort of understood why he would have such an attitude at that time.

What I don’t understand is why he still holds on to it now even after the dramatic withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan. The only reason is probably because he has chosen to stubbornly stick to his argument not only out of pride but also because it is intrinsically the way he has been taught to view the world.

And this is where things become complicated. As Africans generally and Zimbabweans in particular we are the subjects of a global hegemony that frames how we should perceive our own existence. Let alone how we should express it.

In this we suffer from a debilitating inferiority complex. And here I am just referring to how we form or shape our own opinions. Our primary challenge is a desire for a recognition that historically, even after all our liberations struggles, was always designed to elude us.

What we need to do is to recognize ourselves first and express ourselves in order to understand ourselves. And have fun while we are at it. At the back of our minds however must remain the reality that we do not do so as a performance ritual for others. But we do so for our own progress as a people. Ditto Fanon.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)

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