BY NEVANJI MADANHIRE
This year’s Africa Day was a very portentous day for Zimbabwe. Second to Zimbabwe’s own National Day, April 18, May 25 should be a day for every Zimbabwean to celebrate the vision of a united Africa ready to take on the world and take pride of place among other continents.
It is a day the dream of the liberation of the continent from the yoke of colonialism was promulgated all those nearly-60 years ago in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Our own Independence came as a result of that dream, which saw many African countries rally behind our liberation struggle until the enemy was defeated and replaced by the rule of the majority in 1980.
For the majority of Zimbabweans, May 25 this year was supposed to encapsulate all that independence and pan-Africanism stand for.
The erection of the statue of Mbuya Nehanda on a pedestal in the middle of the capital Harare was supposed to mark the affirmation of our nationhood. But it all turned into a charade.
The day is a holiday in most African countries, marked with festivities and joy.
Ironically, Hararians were in for a shock when they woke up to police roadblocks that barred them from travel. All roads into the city were blocked.
Common citizens who wished to witness the historic occasion of the installation of the statue were shocked to find they couldn’t do so because the city centre had been declared off limits.
But there were also thousands others who didn’t want to be part of the occasion, who just wished for inter-suburb travel to be with friends and relatives.
Lots of others wished to make their humble contributions to local tourism by visiting local resorts, whether to do a bit of fishing or barbecuing.
They jumped into their cars or onto omnibuses early in the morning only to find, to their disappointment and disgust, police had blocked all the roads.
In the evening, images and footage of the city centre happenings were flashed on TV. To the majority’s chagrin, the event became a Zanu PF show of force.
Youths toyi-toyed in the streets singing revolutionary songs, capping it all with a bellicose display of what is in store for voters in the coming 2023 elections.
Clips of party youths threatening the use of force to intimidate voters went viral showing the world what stuff Zanu PF is made of.
Not that Zimbabweans, and the rest of the world, had forgotten the violence, courtesy of our revolutionary party, that always accompanies elections in this part of the world, but that it looked so contrary to the spirit of the day.
Sadly, the whole charade desecrated and debased the statue of the icon of the First Chimurenga. If what people discussed in their gatherings and on social media is anything to go by, all the respect they had for the first known martyr of the struggle, has dissipated.
There is a statue that has become a monument to everything that is wrong with the politics of the country.
The erection of the statue should have been a sign that our rulers were ready to build bridges through highlighting the importance of national symbols. But now the national symbols have been used to divide the people. Instead of building bridges, the scenes of that day show the opposite.
How can Zimbabweans venerate a symbol that has been used to show intolerance and violence?
How can Zimbabweans exalt a symbol that has displayed the arbitrary use of state institutions such as the police to deny them freedom of movement and other civil liberties they value so much? Nationhood is not built that way!