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Sentencing Zim’s children to obscurity

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By Dr Irene Mahamba

WHAT does it mean when a son of Zimbabwe, a teenager at a private school, laments that he does not do African History but is forced to study European History.

He asks: ‘Even if this is rectified in the new curriculum, what about those of us who are learning in private schools, where are we going to get it from?’

When a child of Zimbabwe cries for what is correct, what is right for him as an heir of Zimbabwe, and we do not have an adequate answer, what does it mean?

When we fail these youngsters, what does it mean for those of the same age who refused to live under British bondage, but join the armed struggle? 

This young teenager would not have been comfortable under Rhodesia’s rule. Like his predecessors, he most likely would have joined the liberation struggle.

So what did his compatriots die for?

And another still asks: Where can I go to study a practical subject of my choice instead of just studying accounts, (which she is not interested in) and afterwards still look for a practical subject of my choice?

What do you say to such a daughter of Zimbabwe when you know such schools were established; that the Zimbabwe Foundation for Education with Production was instituted precisely for that purpose; that eight Education with Production schools were established for this reason; that they were not meant to remain eight, but were to spread to the rest of the nation but then something happened and vicissitudes tore the project apart, capitalism was threatened and it fought back viciously.

How do you feel having to give an explanation to such a child when you know this is something the struggle especially achieved for its young but it got shot down. Yet this is what we promised children of Zimbabwe, at all the zvindunduma (Schools in the Struggle) at Matenje and throughout Mozambique, at the schools in the struggle in Zambia, those chindunduma children who championed education with production during the struggle and after independence, students and teachers who fought so valiantly to ensure that education with production took off after independence.

So how does everyone feel in this conundrum? 

We all discussed and agreed in the struggle that this is the model of education we would implement after attaining our independence.

And still another child quietly pauses at the ZIMFEP Stand during ZIBF, and quietly peruses the book ‘Schools in the Struggle’

He listens quietly as you tell him what the book is about, the lives led by those children during the liberation struggle, in both Mozambique and Zambia and, still quietly, the little boy (probably in Grade 4 or 5) asks: ‘How much is the book?’ 

And you tell him ZWL$16,00 and he empties all the coins in his pocket, ZWL$6,00 in all, clearly all the pocket money he had been given at home for the Book Fair… of course you give the child the book. 

What is more precious than a truly Zimbabwean child, one whose soul is so closely aligned with his destiny, an heir of Zimbabwe?

What does this mean? 

Why is this book not one of his prescribed readers? 

Why is it not one of his history text books; an authentic record of the lives school children led in the struggle, written by combatants and students from the struggle, the very ones who lived this life? 

Instead, Zimbabwe’s children have to read ‘Harvest of Thorns’ (Chenjerai Hove), a fiction about the struggle which is not only fallacious, inaccurate but also insults the struggle which liberated our Zimbabwe?

What about the millions who can never come to ZIBF; is this not their heritage as well? 

Is this not their right? 

What is their recourse? What are we saying to these youngsters whose compatriots fought a heroic struggle under the harshest of conditions and triumphed against a bitter enemy? 

How can we justify locking this treasure away from them. Yet their compatriots died at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Mkushi, Freedom Camp, Pasichigare and many other places so that they could be assured of their heritage, would take the mantle and take their turn at building us a great Zimbabwe. 

Are we saying they died in vain?

When our children thirst for their heritage and we seem unable to quench this thirst, there is a problem. Something has gone off the rails. 

Zimbabwe’s children have not gone to sleep; they are waiting for their day … still!

Another descendant of Nehanda would not accept that at ZJC, at a private school in Bulawayo, she had to learn about the ‘great explorers‘ such as David Livingstone whom they were taught discovered the Victoria Falls, something that hurt her so deeply as if Zimbabweans had to wait for David Livingstone before they could behold such a celestial endowment to their land.

She was hurt and disturbed that at ‘O’-Level, they learned about the ‘great discoverers’ such as Thomas Cook and only two paragraphs on the liberation struggle which were not examined; that at ‘A’-level, she had to do European History and American History. She was hurt that they were not allowed to watch the film Cry the Beloved Country because it would incite racial hatred, it was alleged. 

A young girl at NUST, on learning that the ZHT (Zimbabwe Heritage Trust) was giving lectures at other institutions of higher learning, especially with respect to Godobori’s revelations about the evil machinations of one George Soros, insisted that the ZHT should also come to NUST. She also wanted to savour the truth that would make her free as a child of Zimbabwe. 

Fortunately for her and many others, the ZHT team has been there. She did express gratitude for the visit.

What makes the teachings by the Zimbabwe Heritage Trust so meaningful, so unforgettable is because it is about who they are, Zimbabweans. But the Zimbabwe diet is so rare in their curriculum and we have not made it easy for these youngsters. They need to know who they are, then it becomes possible for them to chart their path in this life as Zimbabwean?

A lecturer at Kushinga-Phikelela Institute, on seeing my name tag during the ZIBF (2017) immediately asked me: “How is Comrade Zhou (the Zimbabwe Hertage Trust CEO)?” 

She then told me he had been at the Institute giving the most interesting lectures. She hoped he would be back with his team.

So who is sentencing young Zimbabweans into oblivion … they are ready and willing but there is an inimical force that would have them turn their faces away from Zimbabwe so that Uncle Sam and extended family can make mince-meat of Zimbabwe’s destiny.

Zimbabwe is not short of heirs, but there is an extremely harsh struggle to make them blind, deaf and dumb; kuti vazungaire tigoona kuti ndiani achazvitaura kuti Zimbabwe ndeye ropa uye kuti ina vene vakasvinura kwete vakavata.

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