By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
CONFUSION over the meaning of the term ‘youth’ is rife in Zimbabwe.
Let us consider headlines for the first week of March 2018, for example:
l ‘Chamisa threatens election boycott’, NewsDay March 5 2018;
l ‘Youths are 2018 election game-changers’, NewsDay March 5 2018;
l ‘An old person cannot be an instrument of change’, statement attributed to Nelson Chamisa, MDC leader, Daily News, March 4 2018;
l ‘ED spells out vision 2030’, The Sunday Mail, March 4 2018.
As I have been suggesting through this column over a long time, ‘youth’ is not a value category; it is only a blunt and blind attempt to use age as a value-full framework, thereby mistaking mere biology with consciousness and mindset.
And yet we know that depending on a young person’s upbringing and education, people often say: ‘So-and-so is wise for his age.’
I therefore coined the frame of ‘Chihwindi versus Chimurenga’ because these terms refer to mindsets and values with resonance in the history of Zimbabwe and because young people have been deeply involved or implicated in both chihwindi and Chimurenga.
In the NewsDay story on youths in the 2018 elections, Brian Dube, the MDC’s youth spokesperson, is reported to have claimed the following:
“(MDC) President (Nelson) Chamisa will win by 70 percent votes against any candidate.
“(State President Emmerson Dambudzo) Mnangagwa and former Vice-President Joice Mujuru will share amongst themselves (only) 30 percent.
The writing is on the wall that Chamisa is the people’s president.”
The paradox of the media headlines I have listed in the preceding paragraphs is easy to detect.
The very same NewsDay and Daily News publicising glowing claims about the youth vote respectively had the same cover story: ‘Bloody clashes rock MDC-T’ and ‘Violence at MDC offices’.
In other words, the very same youths who are supposed to win the MDC formations 70 percent of the vote in 2018 are busy branding themselves in action as violent, lawless and undisciplined against their age-mates in the very same party without the journalists proceeding to say exactly what the alleged 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s voters will actually be voting for!
Worse still, if the same party is threatening to boycott the very same elections it says will win by 70 percent, what then is the basis for claiming 70 percent of the vote?
In contrast, President Mnangagwa and his ZANU PF party, during that same week, were spelling out exactly the values and programmes they would like the people to vote for according to ‘ED spells out vision 2030’.
More features of chihwindi:
l As demonstrated at Morgan Tsvangirai’s burial on February 20 2018 at Humanikwa Village in Buhera, chihwindi has always been anti-rural and biased against rural communities whom it accuses of suffering from strong rural background (SRB).
As a result, chihwindi behaviour is exposed in rural communities as truly scandalous and offensive.
In contrast, Chimurenga won the liberation struggle precisely because of its genius at communicating with the rural majority and integrating the grievances of rural youths with those of urban youths against settler capitalism.
The MDC’s conduct in Buhera on February 20 blatantly alienated and divided urban from rural youths.
l Chihwindi is blinded and deceived by its ageist stereotype of all older persons as ‘deadwood’ and as senile, thereby failing to distinguish between elders and foolish old men and foolish old women.
In contrast, Chimurenga has always accepted the African relational view of the total education of a young person as requiring a role and a place for siblings, peers, mentors, elders and ancestors, all linked by a value chain of hunhu/ubuntu.
Elders are distinguished from senile or foolish old men and foolish old women by their wisdom.
Even in churches, the board of elders is not automatically constituted by the oldest persons.
Elders are expected to provide wise leadership.
l In the urban areas, chihwindi is associated with scandalisation and desecration; women being stripped naked at bus stations; thugs digging up urban cemeteries to retrieve expensive caskets or trickets for salvaging and reselling; thieves and fraudsters posing as healers, prophets and pastors; any means to the shortest route to get someone else’s property or money.
In contrast, Chimurenga has always made efforts to respect the sacred.
One living demonstration is the movement to identify, for reburial, those fallen freedom fighters who were not buried at all where they fell or who were buried improperly.
Using spirit possession, war veterans have found the remains of many such freedom fighters whom they have exhumed and reburied where they originally came from.
One of the things this practice has achieved is to retrace and recreate a national map of the liberation struggle showing how united Second Chimurenga youths were.
They came from every corner of the land and they were willing to fight in any part of the country to free the whole nation.
They did not fight for one so-called tribal or ethnic or regional group.
In contrast, urban touts and gangs fight for small turfs, for narrow blocks within the already isolated urban ghetto!
l Chihwindi has always been concerned about techniques and tricks (usually all short-cuts) for surviving the worst urban effects of disaster capitalism — here-and-now.
As a result, chihwindi has not developed a holistic understanding of disaster capitalism as a system.
In its shallow and pseudo-business features, chihwindi will, for instance, celebrate the apparent ‘success’ of Rwanda as a modern ICT-driven African economy with the best ‘Ease of doing business’ index on the whole continent of Africa.
This is done by glossing over, paving over, the effects of disaster capitalism which precipitated the 1994 Rwandan genocide which was again centred on Kigali, the capital city.
The question is not asked whether in fact the ‘Ease of doing business’ which Rwanda now boasts was not accomplished by sweeping away, through genocide, all the elements of culture and indigenous memory marked as inconvenient for neo-liberal capital to have its way completely without hindrance.
Is it not true that the alleged Rwandan ‘economic miracle’ is a by-product of genocide just like the German post-Hitler economic ‘miracle’?
In contrast, Chimurenga has not forgotten history. Chimurenga will not forget that capitalism was the best ally of apartheid and UDI; that while the Russian and Chinese versions of communism and socialism have found ways of accommodating adaptable features of the market economy, they have stayed alert to continuing hostilities and conflicts between their own value systems and those of the Washington consensus as imperialism.
Kupaumba versus kushaura
The national outrage against recent chihwindi behaviour at MDC offices in Bulawayo and at the burial of Tsvangirai means that the public refuses to endorse or condone such conduct.
This conduct is based on a political philosophy alien and unacceptable to most Zimbabweans.
It is viewed as against hunhu/ubuntu.
The most common symbol of African relational philosophy (hunhu/ubuntu) is the dariro, that is the African circle of call-and-response (kushaura nokutsinhira).
Enduring qualities of the dariro and the pungwe
Long before the invention of interactive digital technologies, Africans designed the dariro as the best structure to be used by those in search of mutual understanding, reconciliation and solidarity.
Dariro is a moral, judicial and aesthetic structure of such great flexibility that it had to be repeated in almost all African architectural structures, including Great Zimbabwe.
Dariro puts the performer and the audience in one continuum. The performer is part audience and part performer.
The link between the two lies in the ‘call-and response’ mechanism – kuparura or kushaura nekutsinhira kana nekugadzirisa zvisingatsinhirike kuti zvizotsinhirika. ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ yakagadzirisa zvanga zvisingatsinhiriki kuti zvitsinhirwe neruzhinji.
Therefore, the dariro is a political, educational, moral and aesthetic structure embodying the relationship between those chosen by the same dariro/dare to lead (kuparura/kushaura), on one hand, and those who have chosen them and who confirm their leadership through response (kutsinhira or kugadzirisa), on the other.
l From Page 6
Kutsinhira kutaura mashoko anotsigira zvataurwa nemunhu atanga kutaura.
Kutsinhira is to respond to a chosen lead speaker in order to affirm, modify or correct what he or she may have started.
And yet, kutsinhira (also) kubaya muforo wechipiri (kana wetatu) negejo, uchitevedza wambenge wabaiwa pakutanga. In other words, ‘kutsinhira’ is also used in ploughing.
The second, third and fourth furrows must follow harmoniously and consistently where the first (the lead furrow) broke ground.
Finally, both the canal and the furrow mean that there is an agreed farm, a field or garden (munda kana ndima yakatarwa kare) belonging to the whole people.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) as the successor to the liberation movement is the defender of that space, that territory, that inheritance.
The dariro leaves a space in the centre which symbolises the people’s collective stake, Dzimbahwe.
But where dariro is neutral in terms of concepts of authority, dare is the dariro transformed and elevated to the arena of collective power and authority as in Dare reChimurenga and Dare raMambo.
Dzimbahwe also means Dare raMambo.
In other words, in the African circle or dare, those who lead have been chosen to lead.
When they lead the song, the dance, the path or the court case, they must also wait for the response (kutsinhira or kugadzirisa).
They may be told by the rest of the circle to stop or they may be told to correct their lead tone, their movement, voice or words, if it is not possible for the rest of the dariro or dare to affirm what they will have sung or said or done in lead.
The problem with linear thinking and chihwindi, in our case, is that it reverses the relational arrangement by demoting those who choose the lead singer, by demoting those who affirm the leadership of the selected leader, thereby allowing the lead singer to run away from the dariro and to pretend to be a solo performer or self-created gamba, or self-made celebrity!
The danger which such a run-away faces is called ‘kupaumba’, which is the opposite of kushaura.
Anoramba achipaumba haatsinhirike.
Anonzi chirega kushaura.
l Joining the dariro is already a silent expression of willingness to sing or dance along; or willingness to learn to sing and dance along; or willingness to speak the language spoken in the dariro; or willingness to learn and understand that language; and willingness to abide by the consensus which may emerge from the process of the dariro.
l When there are more people, the circle is widened, but it remains a circle.
l If one or two or more people drop dead or are killed, the circle closes ranks or brings in more people.
For African children, the circle meant that there were always several mothers, several fathers per child in the circle.
If my mother died, she was instantly replaced by her sisters, cousins, even brothers who became my mothers. Therefore umai, ubaba, ukama or usahwira as relationships were larger than the individual mai or hama.
l At the level of the community or neighbourhood, the circle teaches that the harm inflicted on your neighbour’s child in that dariro is quite capable of being inflicted on your own child sitting in that same circle; the harm inflicted on your neighbour’s mother sitting in that dariro of mothers will sooner than later hit your mother, aunt or sister occupying the same space in that circle.
l The circle therefore taught solidarity as daily commonsense and practice.
l The dariro meant all generations sitting in the same circle.
This meant continuity of heritage.
It also meant that there were no sunset laws which declared that a grievance would expire after 25-50 years or even 500 years.
A collective grievance of the family or community could only end by resolution, settlement and reconciliation.
l Above all, the dariro represented synthesis, co-ordination, the aspiration for convergence and harmonisation.
Some classical African proverbs demonstrate this struggle for integrated relational thinking:
l If someone kills an animal by accident, you do not also skin it by accident.
l One does not go about begging for precious palm oil with a gourd without an opening.
l There are no crossroads in the ear.
l The head has two ears but it never hears in twos.
l The stick of fresh sugarcane is sweet and delicious, but it is never stored in the granary.