Reflecting On the Spirit of Unity

As Zimbabweans celebrate Unity Day this month, it is imperative to reflect on the essence of unity in nation-building.

With President Mnangagwa always calling for national reconciliation, healing and unity are crucial elements because a divided nation cannot move forward.

Tensions in their nature are counter-productive, hence the ever need to reduce them by creating platforms for inclusive dialogue, promoting common understanding, uplifting communities and resolving past conflicts.

The signing of the Unity Accord on December 22, 1987, between the country’s two liberation movements; ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU represented by former President Robert Mugabe and the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, respectively, ushered in a new era of peace that Zimbabweans have been enjoying, and celebrating for over three decades now.

Zimbabweans should jealously guard the accord, for unity is the bedrock of development. Without unity, all collective aspirations are doomed.

Unity means a lot to any nation.

By dint of its quintessence nation-building calls for much more than just showy individual whims. Playing tomfoolery with nationalism and unity to appease cameras does not constitute patriotism, neither is it in any way grandiose.

Concerning unity and collective struggle in fostering nationhood, Amilcar Cabral (1924-1973) affirms in “Unity and Struggle”: “Unity is a means towards struggle, and as with all means, a little goes a long way.”

He maintains that: “it is not necessary to unite all the population to struggle in a country”, because there should be a degree of understanding on whether “all the population are united.”

Cabral argues that “a certain degree of unity is enough. Once we have reached it then we can struggle.”

The argument here is on the understanding of unity, as a value gained and kept in pursuant of an ultimate goal; to achieve for the common good of all citizens.

However, this can only become possible if “a certain degree of unity” is achieved, through identification of like-minded individuals, whose desire for unity is selfless.

Cabral argues: “The ideas in the heads of these persons advance and develop and serve increasingly to achieve the aim we have in view. So you have seen more or less what is the basic idea expressed in this principle of ours — unity.”

It can be discerned here that talk of unity should project a shared vision.

ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU shared such a vision; a vision premised on collective suffering and steeped in sacrifice for the common good.

Having been in the trenches long enough to remember the meaning of struggle, ZANU-PF and PF-ZAPU, therefore, were alive to the significance of unity.

They drew inspiration from Cabral’s words that “struggle is a normal condition of all living creatures in the world”.

As liberation movements, and through their revolutionary armies; ZANLA and ZPRA, the parties were alive to the fact that “all are in struggle” and should “advance towards the struggle secure in the reality of our land (with our feet planted on the ground.”

The cultural, political, social and economic reality of our land has both “positive aspects and negative aspects, has strengths and weaknesses” as Cabral points out.

ZANU-PF has remained alive to the ethos of struggle that culminated in the Unity Accord of 1987, which Zimbabweans, as a collective, should draw inspiration from.

Yes, there will always be weaknesses and strengths, positives and negatives in all that a people endeavour for.

However, it should be known that strengths are derived from weaknesses, and that positivity is drawn from those negative aspects of the reality of our land.

To achieve this as a people we should be unity driven from within, and aim for collective gain by beaming our story on the huge global screen; not as outsiders but as participants. After all, it remains our story; the story of our travails, our aspirations and our dreams.

If the ultimate goal is to tread on to our preferred destiny, then scalding our feet will not help us much. Gouging out each other’s eyes in an attempt to inspire ideological vision can only render all of us blind.

In polarised societies, individuals gain political mileage through exploitation of the perceived docility of the people. The people matter as they are the source of the power politicians ride on.

The people neither belong to politicians, nor to political parties; they belong to the nation.

In other words, they belong to each other, and the struggle is theirs, for they wage it, and, therefore, as Cabral notes, the result is theirs too.

Because the people own the struggle, they remain an important cog in whatever decisions are made on their behalf.

In matters of unity and struggle, there is a valid question that Cabral raises: “You have already clearly understood what the people are. The question we now pose is the following: against whom are our people struggling?”

If the people overwhelmingly articulated their voice through the harmonised elections of July 30, 2018, by giving President Mnangagwa and his party Zanu PF a five-year mandate to lead them, should they keep on struggling; for whom and against whom? Are the people now being turned against themselves?

If individual components are merged without due diligence will the resultant unity benefit the whole?

Cabral argues that “it is clear that a struggle like ours, a Party like ours, requires secure stooges, we do not want errand boys.

“We want men, comrades who know what they are doing, our comrades, who can look us straight in the face, who can engage in debate with due respect on both sides.”

As a political, social and economic ideology, and movement, nationalism is characterised by the promotion of the interests of a country, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation’s sovereignty (self-governance) over its homeland.

The people’s struggle, therefore, is for the sustenance of nationhood, premised on collective gain, where individual aspirations are scoffed at.

Cabral maintains: “Obviously a people’s struggle is effectively theirs if the reason for that struggle is based on the aspirations, the dreams, the desire for justice and progress of the people themselves and not on the aspirations, dreams or ambitions of half a dozen persons, or of a group of persons who are in contradiction with the actual interests of their people.”

The reality of our land; the history of our liberation struggle is implicit in our daily toils, and interactions with the empire and its stooges.

Therefore, any talk of unity should play beyond politicking where the national interest is the winner, for no conflicting streams are ever known to merge.

Along a collision course they turbulently flow towards doom, or converge in a disastrous fashion. As Zimbabweans, united we stand, and divided we fall.

Thus, as we celebrate Unity Day this December, let us all reflect on what we are doing as individuals to ensure the development of our communities through fostering unity, harmony and peace.

Prosperity has an affinity for unity, harmony and peace, and it is this that we all aspire for.

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