There is an October song reverberating on the Zimbabwean airwaves; a song that goes deep into the nation’s being.
Herein lies a song that chronicles sustainable futures, not only for Zimbabweans, nor the Southern African Development Community’s citizens alone, but the African continent as a whole.
Herein lies a song that corrects the mis-education, misnomer and misrepresentation that to be African means to sit on the margins and fringes as a second class citizen, or a people beholden to a watching Big Brother as spelt out by George Orwell in his novel “Nineteen Eighty Four” (1984).
Herein lies a song that challenges differential human worth predicated on race and class: “Ngazviende”.
And, we have hearkened.
This song’s climax is on October 25, 2020.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli, the immediate past chair of SADC, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the African Union Chair, have added their voices to the clarion call.
When one part of the body is injured and suffers, the rest of the body shares the pain; hence, the Pan-African call that corroborates the October song.
The October song is a unifying song across the African continent, against the continuance of economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe as a culmination of land redistribution.
It challenges those with predatory attitudes directed against the cultural, economic, and political warfare that seeks to indoctrinate and condition Africans into being second class citizens, inferior to others.
Herein is a song that reminds Africans, Zimbabweans in particular, that they are legitimate members of the family of humankind, like any other nationals, with full entitlement to determining their own affairs, including redistributing their ancestral heritage: the land.
Herein is a song challenging the legitimacy and justification of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001, and amended in 2018.
In his profound text, “The Mis-education of the Negro” (1933), Carter Godwin Woodson reinforces the theme of the October song when he writes: “History shows that it does not matter who is in power . . . those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they did in the beginning”.
Thus, silence over such a sacrilege means being complicit and perpetuating the oppression and dehumanisation by those with predatory attitudes and tendencies, foremost of which has been colonialism in its different guises.
The October song reverberating on our airwaves has profound connecting threads with our own experiences as Zimbabweans.
The song is a tapestry linking artists, the media and those involved in statecraft on a clarion October call on matters that touch at the core of survival and, therefore, cannot be left to chance.
The October song reminds us of the place and role that word-smiths, including literary artists, musicians, dancers, painters, photographers and the media play in shaping and influencing the national narrative for nation-building.
The conundrum of land and identity in Zimbabwe is an explosive subject that has polarised the country, with the local and international media not being innocent in the debate.
In the African world-view, writers and art have a critical role to play in raising people’s consciousness about injustices in order to promote sustainable human and social development.
To this end, artists are deemed philosophers of their communities, who are looked upon to suggest practicable solutions that uphold human worth and human dignity of every person, for greater human progress.
With regards to Zimbabweans’ land issues, artists are expected to expose the foibles of institutionalised unjust land inequities that benefit minority cliques at the expense of the marginalised majority.
Their trajectories are supposed to influence society to change attitudes and perceptions of human worth so that oppressive structures and systems may be transformed.
Africans should strive to use Afro-centricity, because of its integrative approaches towards problem-solving.
Such integrative approaches endeavour towards holism in problem-solving with a view to promoting oneness through dialogue, so that a synergy of ideas could be drawn from most stakeholders and engender ownership of processes like land redistribution.
Issues of land and identity are not about race, creed, class or skin colour, but advocacy to change attitudes and systems that dehumanise people.
It is about adopting lenses that view all Zimbabweans as human beings that require securities embedded in the land.
From an African-centred perspective, land and identity are inseparable.
Identity touches on issues of belongingness, self-efficacy, humans’ collective stewardship to other humans, stewardship to the environment, “human closeness” (Bennett, 2011: 241), values and traditions, rites of passage, the interplay between spiritual and physical security, and communion with the spirit world.
It also includes world-views, race, nationality, national/family heritage, shifting social roles and responsibilities according to given situations, institutions and communities.
Equally critical are shared experiences of settler colonial dispossession and cultural domination, class, political affiliation, struggles for land and liberation and human dignity, including advocacy for the common cause for social justice, among other views.
Writers and journalists should explore themes relating to the land as they are deemed too sensitive to explore at this crucial time in Zimbabwe’s unfolding history, particularly as the country reels from impacts of illegal economic sanctions.
They should help their readers, or fellow citizens to understand that abating, condoning and inducing conditions that do not nurture life, for whatever reason, is anti-life/anti-African/anti-humwe.
Colonialism has to be denounced for its expropriation of Zimbabweans’ natural resources, primarily the land, and excluding indigenous people from enjoying the same.
The continued holding of land by minority cliques at the expense of the marginalised majority, which continues to dehumanise both victims and perpetrators of injustice should be equally condemned.
In the Afro-centric view of life, human worth can never be differential.
All human life is sacred and should be protected at all costs.
Thus, the October song is well within Zimbabwean mandates of the arts: rallying people together for a common cause; collective bargaining for the common good, as well as affirming the public call for progressive action. Herein is a song that has grown in momentum, like the Jerusalem dance.
Professor Ruby Magosvongwe is the chair of the Zimbabwe Media Commission. This article, however, does not represent the views of the Zimbabwe Media Commission. It captures the views of a literature enthusiast and an educationist whose teaching career dates back to 1986.