By Dr Tafataona  Mahoso

Against all the trails 

Cut by Pioneer Columns 

Of knowledgeable ignorance and mystification;

Against all ‘straight’ boundaries left behind 

By past imperial wars

Of partition; rigid grids shredding our thread for re-membering the future:

It is, it is, still hard for the Afrcan mind

To discard donated bird-watcher binoculars

Left over in generous  numbers,

Stylised and Disneyfied binoculars to hem our eyes,

Complete with well  branded

Straightjackets wrapped tight 

In pretty sleeping bags of post-colonial slumber;

Against such donated gear

 Occupying and sequestering the whole shelf-life

Of our new dispensation; it remains hard

For the hemmed-in African mind

To count its gains, 

See for itself and inspire

The children of Nehanda; children threading

A new dariro

And  staking new ground with their own bodies;

Charwe’s children treading

Where Selous Scouts and their sell-outs

No longer dare; children moving out

Of ready structured Cecil Sqares  and  columns of   knowledgeable ignorance  ‘for you’ in lieu of education;

himbwido’s  children connected  and  rising like live open beads

Of ages strung upon enduring belts 

Of memory, weaving a new  history, herstory,

Written upon

An eternal scroll  and  rolling web of growth rings

 Salvaged in a hurry

From the straight teeth

Of Ian Smith’s  imported shredder, the shredder

That fed the colonial incinerator,  that white incinerator pausing as publisher of tall narratives

That occupied the false calm of the ceasefire, ceasefire to inspire

The backsliders who rose

In the vacuum created by dying ashes of Uncle Sam’s napalm.

Against all this,

It is hard for the African mind

To set up a new scenario

Of dariro ne tariro,

Still over-shadowed by church-denominated silos

Spewing  straight  televised streams

Of one-way belief repeated in screams without relief.

But in my grief  I remember 

Vana chimbwido in the pungwe as dariro,

Where, when I am facing  north and facing you;

You see what I don’t see

Coming for my back from the south;

And when Rindai faces east, facing Vimbai,

He sees what’s coming for her back from the east,

While  Vimbai watches what’s lurking 

Behind Rindai from the west.

And the rest of the dariro  crowd follow suit,

Engaged and proud because:

In the dariro,

Like the Great Enclosure

Of elemental memory at Great Zimbabwe:

There are no blind corners;

No single nook or global  bearing lacking

The linked scrutiny of one of us:

This way,

That way:

Tinoonesana mudariro

 Tiine tariro nyangwe nepamariro.

 Asante sanna,

 Muumbi,

You who  moulded the head of intellect

With two ears,

 Where the head never hears in twos.

(Last part of ‘African Mind’, a poem from an anthology in progress, titled ‘Body and Soil: A Poetry of Homecoming’, by the author.)

HISTORY

During the days when whites would boast: “The sun never sets  in the British Empire,” there was no talk of multiculturalism or inclusivity as  policy. 

The West began to talk inclusivity, diversity and tolerance at that stage where white people faced the possibility of being both a minority grouping and a minority culture, that is, in the aftermath of decolonisation. 

In Southern Africa, one began to hear descendants of white settlers now saying: “But I am  five generations African.” 

Don’t you dare exclude me the way I have excluded you as kaffir or nigger and herded you into Bantustans and so-called tribal trust lands where you had to carry my pass in order to move  out and about.

Therefore, inclusivity as a culture and communication policy does not mean the same thing to Africans and whites. 

The message of Professor Bernard Magubane’s ‘Race and the Construction of the Dispensable Other’, is that Africans did not choose to set themselves apart as a human species. 

For 500 years, those who chose to so set Africans apart for profit also treated them as dispensable, as property available for appropriation and disposal and as separate human species; although genetic science tells us  that  we are the original family circle that gave birth to all the other human races.

 We are all Sudanese, we are now told. That is a fact of history Africans have to reckon with in the reconstruction of their humanity. 

Therefore, if your media, culture and communication begins and ends with inclusivity, in what are you going to include who? 

Exactly in what do you struggle to be included?

Upon close examination, it turns out that white settlers and their descendants  really want to be tolerated and included in our neo-colonial or post-colonial status quo

Which means, business-as-usual, where, if you are in South Africa, it is the African who is alien and killed in Afrophobic attacks by other Africans while the whites born there are ‘five or four generations African’ and while the European ones are greeted and privileged as investors or expatriates misnaming Afrophobia as Xenophia via their media.

Therefore, no intellectually alert African can afford to just say: ‘My media and culture policy is to be inclusive,’ as if we, as Africans, committed the crime of apartheid in the first place.

Dariro wisdom

From dariro wisdom, we can critique the 

neo-liberal myth of inclusivity.

First of all, dariro defines the staking out and shaping of both ndima and nyika. 

The approximate English terms would be a self-organised fielding of participants.

Third, those who join do not have to speak the same language but, by joining, they commit themselves to learn whatever  language is needed for darilogue to function in the dariro.

Fourth, the internal and external, the global and local relations are integrated because, as dariro, we all sit facing one another and facing the whole world simultaneously. Mukanya, whose totem is baboon, faces the north and sees the north behind Sithole who faces the south which Mukanya does not see. 

And Sithole’s totem is cattle. Meanwhile, Dube, whose totem is Zebra, faces west while also facing Tangwena  (totem leopard) who faces east and sees what  is coming  for Dube’s back from the east.

 Dube watches what may be coming  from the west for Tangwena’s back; and so on. In this way, our content is not based on binary labels of local/external, individual/collective, we take a relational and radial approach.

Indeed, if we take the science of genetics as language, we learn that Africa is the origjnal home of all human beings, making the African the original builder of the human family and community as we know them. 

The human race has, therefore, fanned out from Africa, from the Sudan, to all parts of the world. And the global-in-local nature and organisation of dariro is still today an original expression of the African outlook on the world. As the original  circle of  humanity, we, as Africans,  adopted the posture which enabled the human race to fan out into all corners of the earth. 

Hence our native outlook has always been radial and not linear or unilinear.

Now, as originators of the human family and human community, we diminish or even destroy our legacy by merely adopting the apologetic position that our policy is that of Eurocentric, neo-liberal inclusivity! 

The reality is that the descendants who originated here and fanned out to the rest of the earth have, for the most part, turned against fundamental human values and against the dariro philosophy of global-in-local by  forming themselves into Pioneer Columns of apartheid, UDI, fascism and global plunder, with neo-liberalism getting really steeped in denialism, making us forget its  diabolic birth in the Middle Passages of chattel slavery. 

The paradox of the neo-liberal human rights crusade under capitalism

In the poem cited at the start of this piece, the persona accuses  “…the pioneer columns of knowledgeable ignorance…” of shredding our “…thread for re-membering our own future.”

Aggressive human rights crusaders enable neo-liberal capitalism to deny its umbilical cord in slavery and apartheid.

 Apartheid man and the slave master are rebaptised and re-invented with our  help as self-appointing and self-confirming “…human rights defenders…”

After the narcissism of the Cartesian dictum: “I think, therefore I am,” they too declare: “I think I am good, therefore I am good. I think I am a human rights defender, therefore, whatever I do is in defence of human rights. Never mind the actual historical relations I have created and maintained through slavery, apartheid and capitalism.”

     Current affairs

As I have pointed out in previous instalments, the media war in which Zimbabwe’s now repealed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)  was one response, that media war has assumed new dimensions.

Through the domination  of Internet by US monopolies  and effects of US sanctions against Huawei, our people are denied the Latin American perspective, denied the Asian perspective and denied the East European perspective in the media. 

Part of the reason can be blamed on language barriers. But if that were the main reason, we would see aggressive efforts to overcome the hurdles the same way Zimbabwe relied on Cuban doctors during the worst period of Western illegal economic sanctions and the resultant flight of health workers. That solidarity happened despite the gap between our languages.

For me, the NATO war of encirclement against the Russian Federation, through Ukraine,  has opened my eyes to the not-so-subtle subjection to Western propaganda which we tolerate daily while claiming that our policy is one of inclusivity and we have opened up the airwaves.

When I open Phoenix, LinkdIn, Chrome and other platforms, I am shocked by the various ways in which the NATO view of the war in Ukraine  and the whole world has permeated the platforms accessible to us through Euro-American domination. 

For instance, there are  pretty poster-card images of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and wife Yelena everywhere, with messages intended to humanise the Ukranians and NATO while  clearly erasing the Russians or clearly demonising them. 

But our media are not explaining the ways in which US and EU sanctions on Russia, China or Cuba end up having the same effects as censorship and the banning of information by those preaching the free flow of information, opening up the airwaves, pluralism and diversity.

To what extent, for instance, is Multichoice Africa restricted by US and EU rules in what it can offer  through  DSTv  bouquets in Zimbabwe or elsewhere? 

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