This talk of the possibility of a GNU, real or imagined, well-intentioned or otherwise, which seems to be gaining traction, should never be a culmination of coercive tactics.
Reflecting on Job Sikhala’s (MDC-A’s vice chairperson) utterances that they will “give ZANU-PF headaches” and overthrow President Mnangagwa before 2023, and Nelson Chamisa’s so called “signal” for demonstrations, one is so much reminded of the gnu, or wildebeest (wild beast), as the beast is commonly known.
The gnu, with its ox-like head, horse mane and bison horns, is hideous, for at a glance one would not help wondering at nature’s “beastly” exhibition. There is a hilarious, yet thought-provoking 1960 song by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann titled “The GNU Song”, which has the following lines:
“A year ago, last Thursday
I was strolling in the zoo
when I met a man who thought he knew the lot.
He was laying down the law about the habits of baboons
And how many spines a porcupine has got.
So I asked him:
“What’s that creature there?”
He answered, “Oh, it’s a h’Elk”
I might have gone on thinking that was true
If the animal in question hadn’t put that chap to shame
And remarked, “I h’aint a h’Elk, I’m a Gnu”
. . .
“I’m a Gnu
I’m a Gnu
A g-nother gnu
I wish I could g-nash my teeth at you
I’m a Gnu
How do you do
You really ought to k-now w-ho’s w-ho’s
I’m a Gnu
Call me Bison or Okapi and I’ll sue. . . ”
Indeed, there is a man among us, Job Sikhala, who thinks he knows a lot, yet he cannot tell an elk from a gnu; “A g-nother gnu”. Nature has a way of unifying contrasting variables; that’s nature’s beauty in ensuring self-sustainability and regeneration.
The gnu “spelt G-N-U” is unattractive, nay ugly, for it is a reflection of different species of the animal world; a mirroring of conflicting ideologies. However, it is in the gnu’s nature to protect not only its kind, but other weaker non-predators like zebras and giraffes against predators, through its advocacy for unity of purpose. To the gnu, therefore, unity is key, and self-respect is a must, notwithstanding aesthetic considerations, for positivity is what drives any species, man included, towards the Promised Land. It is contemptuous, therefore, for losers to call the shots on issues of governance. There is need to strike common ground without using macho tactics bordering on schizophrenia, for conflicting streams cannot easily be brought to a confluence.
Unity means a lot to any nation; and a nation by dint of its essence calls for much more than just a razzmatazz display of individual whims.
Unity should be understood 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 individualism and political posturing are shunned through identification of likeminded individuals, whose desire for unity is selfless.
We know we are struggling; true, our feet are burdened, but should scalding each other’s feet and gouging each other’s eyes out take us forward? Should we raze down our houses to the ground so that we may destroy the lice that bother us?
Granted, politics somehow makes dullards of us all, for politicians’ ride on our seeming docility as citizens. They forget that the people are the source of their power. It is time political players are enlightened on the fact that 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 (1973) 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?”
Should the people keep on struggling, and be held at ransom when they overwhelmingly expressed their will through the harmonised elections of July 30, 2018? If they exercised their constitutional right by giving President Mnangagwa and his party ZANU-PF a five-year mandate to lead them, why should they keep on struggling; for whom and against whom?
Threatening violence against others’ rights to peace smacks of hypocrisy and double standards. The people of Zimbabwe cannot be turned against themselves by the same individuals, who in the first place do not respect their constitutional rights.
If, as is the case in the physical complexion of the gnu, individual components are merged without due diligence will the resultant unity benefit the whole? The Gnu in “The Gnu Song” says: “Call me Bison or Okapi and I’ll sue”, meaning that individual composite reflections should be representative of the whole.
As a political, social and economic ideology, and movement, nationalism is characterised by the promotion of the interests of the nation state, 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 whims are scoffed at as Cabral (1973) 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.”
Therefore, if the people belong to each other, and own both the struggle and the victory, the one who uses hearsay to claim victory should not intimidate the one constitutionally declared the winner. It is not justice for losers to claim legitimacy through intimidation and threats of violence, or questioning the legitimacy of others; and the MDC-A should be enlightened on that.
Thus, any “GNU Song” should play beyond politicking, for no conflicting streams are ever known to merge. Along a collision course they tumultuously flow towards doom, or converge in a disastrous fashion.