Choosing between Jabez and the ‘prodigal son’ in 2018

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By Dr Tafataona Mahoso

“NaJabezi wainga ane unhu netsika, echipinde kuremeredzeka kupfuura vamwe vese vanakomana vamai nababa vake. Namai vake vakamududza zita rekuti Jabezi, vechiti: Ngokuti ndakamubereka mukutambudzika.
Naye Jabezi wakakumbira ngezita ra Jehovha echiti: Mwari, kudai ungandidakadzisa yaamho; nekuwandudza ivhu rangu nemigano yangu, ngekuti ruoko rwako runondichengeta, kuti undidzivirire kubva kune zvakashata, kuti matambudziko asasvika kwendiri nemhuri yangu.
NaMwari wakapa Jabezi izvo zvaakakumbira.”
Soon this year, MaDzimbahwe will face two clearly contrasting choices; between, on one hand a party of stay-aways which was born in stay-aways and sanctions which condemned the land revolution; and, on the other hand, the movement of homecoming and empowerment, the movement of African land reclamation and repossession, the movement of African liberation born in pan-Africanism.
The Bible gives us two such starkly contrasting characters: The prodigal son in Luke Chapter 15 and Jabez in 1 Chronicles Chapter 4.
James M. Freeman in Manners and Customs of the Bible tells us that the prodigal son did a strange thing against the practice of the time.He demanded to be given his portion of his father’s estate but his intention was not to invest and grow his portion, but rather to take it to a far-away country and squander it with strangers.
The only difference between the prodigal son and Zimbabwe’s stay-away parties is that the prodigal son did not demand to be elected to rule over is parents, brothers and sisters when he came back after squandering his share of the father’s estate.
Unlike our stay-away and sanctions parties today, the prodigal son realised his mistake and apologised:
“But when he came to himself, he said: How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread but I perish here with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against God and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
During his stay-aways, the prodigal son did not only waste the shares his father had given him.
He even expected foreigners to give him more wealth.
As the Gospel of Luke points out:
“Not many days after demanding his shares from his father, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in debauchery and reckless living.
And when he had spent everything, a severe famine [recession] rose in that country, and he became broke and destitute.”
He then looked for jobs as a replacement for the inheritance he had just squandered.
He found a job to take care of pigs.
He had always thought of the foreigners as more generous than his own people, more generous than his parents.
He discovered his mistake the hard way while overseas, feeding pigs.
“And he was longing to be fed (by the foreigners) with pods that the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything.”
Yes, he got the ‘jobs’ but they did not even match what he remembered as the conditions of service of his own father’s servants.
He came home and apologised to his father for his mistake.
But he could not rule his father’s estate, for fear that he would invite into the estate his foreign partners in debauchery and waste.
He was welcomed home but disqualified as a future leader.
Why did the prodigal son take his inheritance outside to squander it with outsiders?
He had no confidence in the home economy and people.
Whereas Jabez saw opportunity and strength there on the land and asked for the extension of the home circle (dariro) and the law of the land, the prodigal son rejected the people as a basis for development.
“We can’t build an economy that survives on peasants (povo). Having everyone going into farming is not sustainable.
We have to move people from the farms to the industries than removing people from the industries to the farms because I don’t see that working.” – Morgan Tsvangirai, May 19 2013.
Zimbabwe’s prodigal son invites illegal sanctions
I have already said the prodigal son of Luke Chapter 15 was far much wiser than the leaders of Zimbabwe’s stay-away parties.
He apologised for his mistake, came home to stay and did not demand to govern his father’s estate, since he had already damaged it by externalising his inheritance and squandering it abroad.
Readers of this column will have seen The Financial Gazette story on January 28 2010 (page 3) which was titled ‘Envoys want sanctions lifted on 8 firms’, and The Zimbabwe Independent story on January 29 2010 (page 1) titled ‘Sanctions crunch time for EU, Zim parties’.
Inside the same issue of The Zimbabwe Independent was inserted another story purporting to come from NewsDay which was titled ‘Tsvangirai not to blame (for sanctions), MDC’.
In this third story, by one Tendai Chipangura, MDC-T was reported as saying it was good for the party to have its leader Morgan Tsvangirai named directly as the one person who did the most to campaign for illegal sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabweans; he was therefore the one person in Zimbabwe who must lead a second campaign to have the same sanctions lifted.
Chipangura then described an MDC-T party which was very proud of the prominence it has achieved in Zimbabwe, the UK, the US and the EU, as the sanctions party.
Chipangura cited the words of the then Minister of State in Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s office:
“As far as we in MDC-T are concerned, those (British Parliament) statements were made because the British Government, in their own judgement, believe the Prime Minister (Morgan Tsvangirai) is the conscience and the voice of reason in the inclusive government (of Zimbabwe) … the Prime Minister is the true conscience of Zimbabwe.
We cannot be blamed for being credible.
It is not our problem that the (Anglo-Saxon) world seems to see the Prime Minister and his party as the voice of conscience.”
In other words, where Zimbabwean patriots were asking leaders of the MDC formations to apologise for their role in inviting and misrepresenting the illegal and racist sanctions against Zimbabwe, the man closest to the Prime Minister then said MDC-T was very proud to receive the prominent attention it was getting from the UK Government, from the EU and from the US State Department as the one party which had the courage to ask for sanctions to be imposed on the people.
That same party then accepted the honour and privilege of being named by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as the only party which could advise the Anglo-Saxon axis as to how, when and to what extent the sanctions should be exploited before being disposed of.
The owners of the sanctions programme, the Anglo-Saxon axis, had three worries: That the people of Zimbabwe would reject totally the Anglo-Saxon-MDC-T explanations of these sanctions; that the effects of sanctions might produce results quite the opposite of what was promised and expected and that the same people of Zimbabwe were already defeating the same sanctions and causing the economy to recover in spite of MDC-T’s wish to hold on to the sanctions and in spite of the Western refusal to assist the recovery by lifting the sanctions.
The Western powers feared that by the time they lifted the sanctions the time to claim credit for ‘positive change’ would have passed. The West would have compromised its tangible economic interests and forfeited its influence in Zimbabwe to China, India, Russia, SA and Brazil.
It is important to remember that the Western sanctions were supposed to help the opposition to remove former President Robert Mugabe from power and enable the opposition to become the Government of Zimbabwe.
Come November 2017, the liberation movement, through the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) removed Mugabe, leaving the sanctions parties stuck with the sanctions!
The meaning of Jabez’s story
The story of Jabez gives a picture the exact opposite to that of the prodigal son.

l From Page 6
First, we are told of Jabez’s hunhu nekuremeredzeka.
Jabez was a man of strong and upright moral character.
Jabez was truly honourable.
Two concepts: Hunhu/ubuntu and tsika lie at the centre of African agenda setting and intellectual (ideological) combat.
Chimhundu defines tsika as follows: Tsika maitiro anotarisirwa navanhu vorudzi rumwechete: (The human conduct expected and encouraged by and of one people).
Munhu anetsika anenge ainehunhu hunoyemurika.
These are the qualities of Jabez’s character.
Kutsiga: Kana munhu achinzi akatsiga anenge akazvibata achivimbika.
Kutsiga describes a person of fierce self-discipline who is also reliable and trustworthy.
Kutsigisa bapu (Literally, to control your lungs or hold your breath): Kuva munhu asinga kurumidzi kuvhunduka chero pane chinotyisa chinenge chaitika.
These are words used to describe a person of steady character and courage who does not panic, even in the face of danger and intimidation.
Now, the choice which the people of Zimbabwe face in 2018 can be summarised by applying the meaning of Jabez to events at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 as follows:
l The massive, joyful and peaceful demonstrations on November 18 2017 following Operation Restore Legacy which was led by the ZDF and the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA);
l The massive, peaceful and joyful crowds which filled the National Sports Stadium to mark the inauguration on November 24 2017 of now President Emmerson Mnangagwa, led by ZANU PF, the ZNLWVA and the ZDF; and
l The equally massive but mournful, confused and hysterical crowds attending the burial of the late leader of the MDC and former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Tsvangirai on February 20 2018 in Buhera.
Unlike the first two crowds, those at Tsvangirai’s funeral were subjected to confusion, insults, stampedes, mob violence, mob hysteria and contradictory messages.
There are three questions which I would ask my readers to ponder:
l Is it not true that in terms of the values of hunhu/ubuntu, one would expect the third event, the burial of Tsvangirai in his rural Buhera, to be the most peaceful and most dignified event, given the normal African expectation that ‘wafa wanaka’ and that ‘chemai nevanochema’?
l What philosophy, what ethos framed and guided the first two events on November 18 and 24 and what philosophy or ethos framed and guided (or misguided) the Buhera event?
l Why were the first two events so starkly different from the third, even though it is clear to anyone trying to analyse the crowds that young people clearly dominated all three in terms of numbers?
In other words, the real difference between the liberation movement ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance does not lie in ‘youths’.
It lies in starkly different values.
It lies in hunhu/ubuntu netsika.

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