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

Today is New Year’s Day. Today we begin a watershed year in which Zimbabwe holds a crucial election that carries so much promise and hope across the sectors.

For the country’s teachers, nurses, our uniformed forces, the intelligence services, housewives, informal traders, school children, traditional leaders, farmers, businesspersons and ordinary citizens, 2023 is a crucial year that will showcase the audacity of hope.

We all hope that our enduring hope will see the realisation of our collective whims and aspirations as a people.

We all begin the year today armed with so much hope that this is the year we have all been waiting for; the year in which a watershed election will yield a transformative leadership that will truly get our country working again.

The title for this week’s re-worked 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, the toil of their endeavour and the sweat of their labour, shall all yield a positive change in their lived circumstance.

The audacity of hope is an aphorism that I feel encapsulates the mindset of every Zimbabwean as we kick off a watershed year; the faith that the dangling scarf shall throttle and choke the wicked intentions of its owner and that those repressing the people today will be washed away by the torrents of history at the crucial plebiscite that is set to be held this year.

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 the same forceful dictum as a title for his book, had also used the same powerful phrase as the main theme for his speech when he delivered the keynote address as a then relatively unknown politician at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004.

The conventions of the Democratic Party are grand occasions of grandeur, passion and people power. They are inspiring fiestas for avowed social democrats.

I came face to face with the lively, exuberant spirit of the DNCs when I accompanied Dr Morgan Tsvangirai, then the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, to the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina in the United States in September 2012.

I was humbled by the citizen-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 he says best defines 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.

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

At a personal level, I believe 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.

That is 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. My brother Bothwell equally named his eldest daughter Tariro. And Tariro, the Shona word for hope, is a popular name in our communities, just as its Ndebele equivalent Themba is also a common name in Ndebele-speaking communities.

Tariro sums up a stubborn and arrogant faith in a better future.
The name Tariro 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 hope by seeking to destroy the people’s movement will come to nought.

The fact that the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has remained standing to this day is testimony that a people’s hope is not easy to kill.

We know—and we are certain—that through our own tenacity, we shall use this year’s watershed election to break free from the 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 our audacious hope tells us we shall prevail.

The audacity of hope.

Every generation must leave the country a better place than they found it. Only then can they boldly 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 a Covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the world for two years and struggling to feed his eight children, John Tembo in Mvuma can only hope that this year’s election will yield a new government that will change his tenous circumstances.

The audacity of hope.

The teachers at Tsatse School, at Cheza, Makumbe Mission, Munyawiri, Pote, Zimbiru and Nyamande schools in my rural hood of Domboshava, just like other teachers in the area and across the country, are rooting for National Change at the next election.

Yes, Teachers for NC. Teachers for National Change. Their employer lied to them. Apart from their dismal working conditions the employer promised to pay fees for three of their children but simply did not deliver.

The change the citizens seek does not have to be piecemeal. It has to be wholesome and national. Indeed, the only countrywide exhortation is the one that will yield holistic national change; Citizens for National Change (NC). Citizens for NC. It encapsulates the national exhortation for positive change.

For Esther Chihwa and Smart Taundi of Harare, Thabiso Nleya of Plumtree and Craig Sithole of Chipinge, the watershed election in the year that we kick off today has ushered in a renewed sense of hope.

It is the hope and conviction that this time around, they will decisively win Zimbabwe for change. The hope that their chosen fresh set of councillors, MPs and President will get Zimbabwe working again.

This time around, the audacity of the people’s hope will not be in vain. They have done it before, only it was a half measure.

In by-elections held in March 2022, the citizens delivered a cardinal lesson to Zanu PF and its surrogates that only 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.

The citizens are itching once again to send out yet another sonorous message of who their true leaders are. In last year’s decisive by-elections in March, they largely cleared the planted mist of confusion by overwhelmingly voting for a party that was barely two months old.

As we begin a decisive 2023 today, the citizens of this country are hoping and waiting for their hour in the sun.

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 will be seen as greater and taller than that of lucerne grass.

They are hoping that a truly national leadership that respects people takes over the running of the country, a leadership that understands that their worth is taller than lucerne grass.

The audacity of hope.

When you have a President and 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 return to the corridors of government.

It is pertinent to note that since 2000, Zanu PF has peddled the propaganda mantra that the opposition are puppets who front the interests of white capital.

Now that the Shangaani people of Chilonga, the indigenous people of this land, were evicted so that Mnangagwa’s white friend could grow grass for his cattle, it is now clear who the real puppets are!

The question of who is playing puppetry politics in this country 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! And they will decisively do so in the year that we kick off today.

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 criminal called Frederick Shava who was brought into government to become the international face of this equally criminal regime. Criminals can only run 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, as it will certainly do this year in our beloved country!

Conclusion

The election season, such as the one staring at us this year, is the time when we must freely enjoy and exercise our basic freedoms of choice, speech, movement and association.

An election is the only platform where we are allowed to exercise our right to regime change, even though in 2017, Mr Mnangagwa taught us other avenues through which to do it. In any case, Mr Mnangagwa did not change the regime in 2017. He only sharpened it and made it more wicked.

In the decisive harmonised poll this year, 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 is audacious.

But hope alone is not enough. Hope alone— unaccompanied by decisive action—is trite, vacuous and grossly inadequate in solving the key questions of the day.

A people must act to push through the fulfillment of their hopes and aspirations 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. This time we will use the ballot and not the bullet.The point is that a repressed people must go beyond hoping and take practical action to change their situation to actualise 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 voting decisively and in our huge numbers so as to drastically change our tenuous lived circumstance.

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

This year we will not only hope big. We will vote big as well. Our mission as citizens in the year that we kick off today is to hope big, to register big, to vote big and to win big.

Welcome to 2023, the decisive year in which a repressed people’s hope will showcase its audacity in a huge, seismic way.

Luke Tamborinyoka, a citizen from Domboshava, is a journalist and ardent political scientist by profession. He is also a change champion in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him via his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo.

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