Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
The education system was so planned that the vast majority of black people were compelled to stop schooling after they had acquired just the basic education to enable them to understand orders and instructions by white bosses in mines, farms, factories, hotels, the army, the police, the prison as well as the travel service sectors
Zimbabwe celebrates its 37th independence anniversary tomorrow, a date on which many people will look at the country’s social, economic, political and cultural achievements since its birth after a protracted armed struggle.
It is inevitable that there should be both achievements and failures in every field of human endeavour. That is because of a variety of factors that influence human activities, some negatively and others positively.
Socially, Zimbabwe has made great strides in the educational field in which every district has several high schools, and most provinces have at least one university in addition to a polytechnic college.
Before independence, the country had only one university and only three polytechnics as the white settler regime had adopted what it called “a pyramid educational system,” a reference to a policy in which formal educational institutions became fewer and fewer from the elementary (primary) to the higher levels.
The system was so planned that the vast majority of black people were compelled to stop schooling after they had acquired just the basic education to enable them to understand orders and instructions by white bosses in mines, farms, factories, hotels, the army, the police, the prison as well as the travel service sectors.
Blacks with professionally respectable education were regarded as a threat to the colonial system in all African British colonies.
But today, Zimbabwe can stand up and be counted among nations that actually produce their own medical doctors, agronomists, economists, lawyers, pharmacists, engineers, architects, surveyors, hydrologists, sociologists and other scientists in various fields.
In the economic sector, we cannot deny that while the national economy has taken a serious nosedive because of other challenges, the greatest national asset, land, has been restored to the rightful owners, the people of Zimbabwe.
The forceful seizure of the largest and most productive part of the land by white settlers was the worst colonial crime in this country’s history since 1890 till its democratisation in 1980, an unforgettably painful 90-year-long period.
We may differ about how the land is being restored to the indigenous people since 2000, but the overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans are agreed that land belongs to the indigenous people — nyika ndeyedu, hango ndeyedu, ilizwe ngelethu.
What is now required of the land is to utilise it productively so that every Zimbabwean can have enough food, adequate clothing and appropriate accommodation.
The fundamental aim of Zimbabwe’s armed liberation struggle was to restore the ownership of the land to the masses, and that in the event of a conflict of such ownership between capital and the masses, the interests of the latter would prevail over those of the former.
The most important duty of any people’s government is to urge, guide and assist the masses to make the land fully productive so as to sustain them.
The promotion of culture is paramount in Zimbabwe, and is most probably most noticeable in religion where there are innumerable Christian churches most of which are undoubtedly pentecostal in their doctrinal persuasion and practice.
It is not at all surprising that such a cultural development is occurring in a politically independent Zimbabwe considering the pioneering role played by missionaries in the establishment of schools and churches in this country.
The mushrooming of churches is caused not only by economic factors, but it is also a reflection of a historical religious background created by missionaries of various Christian denominations.
The freedom of worship is now finding practicable application in an independent Zimbabwe where the voice of the majority is expressed through a constitutionally entrenched one person one vote franchise.
Criminal and evil practices such as wanton self-enrichment and sexual abuse are inevitable in some of those churches and prayer groups because the human mind and flesh are more prone to succumb to avarice than to virtue, and also because temptation is more rife where poverty is the norm than where plenty prevails.
In the political field, independent Zimbabwe has covered a significant field, what with the new constitution crafted by Zimbabweans themselves to replace one produced in London, and largely by the former colonial power, Britain.
We can now proudly and truly say that we are masters of our own political destiny, one of the objectives of the armed liberation struggle.
There is room, of course, for the improvement of that constitution as there is always room for the improvement of anything made by the human mind and the human hand. But the national constitution is what Zimbabweans collectively produced in free and unfettered circumstances.
If it is amended, it will hopefully be to make it serve the interests of the masses better in the relevant aspects.
Meanwhile, Zimbabweans should sweat to make the land productive in order to improve their welfare.
That is what we fought for, to stand on our own feet in our own land, and run our lives without let or hindrance by or from any other country except in cases of our own sovereign request and in matters identified by our sovereign selves.
Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. firstname.lastname@example.org