By Vitalis Ruvando
THIS article seeks to unpack perceptions and cognition of Zimbabwe’s rural community ethos.
An attempt is made to amplify ‘inaudible whispers from muted village voices’ sifted from a study of Zimbabwe’s 20 of 64 rural districts.
Globally, unchanging perceptions and cognition of rural communities label them as povo, paganus, shudras, anawim, umma, villagers and masadzalas.
The term ‘development’ is diverse.
Most citizens, including some House of Assembly members, reduce ‘development’ to money or NGO donations, not community-owned initiatives.
No wonder most House of Assembly members scramble for NGOs donations for their constituents.
Hereinafter, the definition of ‘development’ is delimited but not restricted to ‘identifying and advocating commercial values in rural community: ubuntu/hunhu’.
Several villagers are now mistaking ‘development’ for ‘political power’; ‘compliance to (God) foreign investor plans’; ‘donor dependency’ or ‘NGO charity: Earning food-money for mahala’.
Against such conceptual backgrounds, rural communities struggle to transmit ubuntu/hunhu ethos; allegiance to Afro-identity, dignity, pride, unity and social cohesion.
In contrast, urban community ethos largely instils non-African ways of living that motivate ubuntu/hunhu amnesia, apnea and subsequent zombie ethos.
Informed urban dwellers link ‘development’ to tenets of participatory bottom-up approaches that dictate the national development strategy.
As such, it is suggested that villagers are ‘the people’ if not ‘the face or voice of God’.
If so, why is the ethos of the majority dwarfed in national development?
Looking back, low opinion regarding rural community ethos saw the prophecy on social justice by Amos from rural Tekoa disowned by Jerusalem metropolitans.
For prophet Amos: “The voice of the poor ones of Yahweh is the voice of God.”
Likewise, rural community ethos of Jesus Christ, Apostle Peter, Prophet Mohammed and Mbuya Nehanda were rejected in Nazareth, Rome, Mecca and Fort Salisbury (now Harare) respectively.
Perhaps these pathfinders are the stones which the builders rejected that have become the cornerstones of prevailing business, ethical and industrial models.
For President Emmerson Mnangagwa: “The Voice of the People is the Voice of God.”
Be it as it may, alleged socio-political poverty, contempt of ubuntu/hunhu ethos and apathy in law promulgations, alignments, amendments and policy formulation debase the rural folk to the living dead in national development.
Several African politicians distantly reconsider rural community ethos as the entry point to development when foreign investor ethos is offering promising economic frontiers to their countries of origin.
“In fact, foreign investments are robed in their cultures that, in turn, ferment mental slavery and social death of ubuntu/hunhu ethos,” observed one priest.
By commission or omission, much is coveted from international creditors to the extent of benchmarking economic growth to foreign direct investment (FDI), not domestic investment.
For countless reasons, there is need to reaffirm investment in, or from, ubuntu/hunhu ethos as the primus movum to development in Africa.
First, rural community hearts bleed upon suspecting that theatre, arts and academia are infringing rural community ethos that have commercial values (intellectual properties).
Second, rural community dreams are shattered upon recognising that aristocrats are pirating ideas from ubuntu/hunhu ethos and innovations.
Third, rural communities are saddened by local neo-colonial agents who impose sanctions on the economic growth of ubuntu/hunhu ethos.
One wonders if Afro-campaigns against ‘Western sanctions’ do not smack of double standards when self-inflicting ‘cultural and economic espionage’ waged against ubuntu/hunhu ethos are muted or not reversed.
“The use of Western intellectual properties to fight sanctions on Zimbabwe is questionable,” said Mbuya Moyo from Mhondoro.
“Ubuntu/hunhu ethos is self-contained, has uncharted intellectual properties that may be lethal in the fight against economic sanctions.”
In light of the argued, the need to reconsider the Devolution and Decentralisation Policy and NDS 1 becomes relevant.
Directly or otherwise, the documents encourage rural communities to manage their development, further their growth and ensure equity in change management.
The question is: Will rural community concerns about intellectual property infringements be adequately addressed during the operationalisation of the documents?
If so, this can enhance processes of translating knowledge society to knowledge economy.
This proposition has vast, yet unexploited, socio-economic benefits for rural communities.
Perhaps inattentiveness to overt or covet operations of agents of neo-colonialism on rural community ethos contributes to their indifference to hatching plans that can stabilise the economy.
By and large, African minds, intellectual properties, hearts, socio-psychology and moral fabric have been exiled in non-African world views.
As a result, many indigenes have fading hope in the potential of ubuntu/hunhu intellectual properties in national developments.
However, the majority of cultural custodians share the opinion that rural women have robust, sustainable yet unmapped intellectual properties.
Tateguru Nehoreka said: “Show respect for ubuntu/hunhu intellectual properties and local spirits will prosper investment drives to or from the Global East or North.”
Speaking before a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, the late Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba once alleged that intellectual properties on development are inhibited by civil servants with raw aptitude for Statesmanship.
“Can Zimbabwe condone a mindset that thrives on delaying, ignoring or denying the industrialisation of aspects of ubuntu/hunhu ethos?” he said.
“Perhaps this masochism torpedoes rural community esteems in national developments,” retorted a pronuncio (svikiro) on condition of anonymity.
Against this background, leaders are urged to take decisive action on intellectual piracy to ensure a principled slant towards improving their full participation.
Gone is an epoch where jealously guarded native intellectual properties were abridged to proverbial hindsight wisdom.
This reductionism deluded opinion leaders Placide Temples (1945) and John S. Mbiti (1969) to conclude that ‘Africans are secretive’.
However, lessons can be learnt from China, Japan, Korea, Russia and Islamic countries that are achieving high economic growth using their national ethos.
“Without intellectual infringements, rural citizens can assume capacity to make ecological inventories in their immediate environments, add value to their products and supply markets,” observed Mbuya Gore.
Rural community inventories can prop the growth of packaging and processing units within school-community set-ups.
Zunde raMambo, a community-old heritage designed to reverse effects of food poverty can be employed to boost school-community industries.
“Perhaps such industries can provide education, not schooling, to learners,” said Chief Mawere.
Community sages opine that the quality of educatedness expressed by schooling and schooled Zimbabweans thaw the price of rural community ethos.
“Sustainable development needs educated workers and a Second Republic without a bold rural growth agenda fosters national poverty,” noted Mbuya Gava-Mawere.
Rural communities want to inspire the Second Republic in their own right.
They aspire to be precursors to achieving an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
“Rural folk neither look West nor East. It is one’s invested home that can motivate foreign direct investments,” said VaChinezema of Buhera.
Key components of ubuntu/hunhu ethos dictate that rural citizens need to be reorganised if Zimbabweans have to unknot sanctions waged against Zimbabwe.
For Max Weber, the US uses Christian ethos (Protestant Ethic) to rethink their development.
Asian Tigers are using umma ethos to motivate and develop their economies.
In short, African governments need to reconsider components of ubuntu/hunhu ethos to stimulate national developments.