Defending land and land reform in Zimbabwe: Part One

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Introduction
THOSE who have been following The Dragon Can’t Dance series will observe that we treated the Caribbean novel in four parts, beginning with the authorial and historical background.
The reason for the lengthy treatment was given as the complexity of the novel that justified such.
The Chimurenga Protocol on the other hand is a fairly straight forward factual narrative.
The plot structure and the themes are not difficult to follow; hence three Parts will suffice to prepare you for an insightful reading of the text.
This part provides the authorial and historical background to the study.

Authorial background
Nyaradzo Mtizira was born Caleb Nyaradzo Mtizira-Nond, but he prefers Nyaradzo Mtizira as his pen name.
His novel, The Chimurenga Protocol was published in 2008.
Its relevance to the political goings-on in the country made it hit the media with a bang and we are therefore not surprised that it has since been selected for Advanced Literature study under Paper Five.
A quick reading of the novel leaves you with an unambiguous impression of his ideological positionality.
He is unmistakably a Patriot like you.
Mtizira’s preoccupation with the contemporary issues affecting his people is his major hallmark.
He has also written four books on the HIV and AIDS pandemic that are all recommended for use in Zimbabwean schools.
They include, A Deadly Twist of Fate, Reproductive Health, HIV and AIDS and A Multiple Choice Approach to HIV and AIDS.
As one observer commented, “The Chimurenga Protocol is probably the first book to usher him into the literary world.
Its date of publication (2008) is also key to Zimbabwe’s socio-political and economic landscape.
In an interview with this writer, Mtizira summed up the book as, “a factual historical narrative that gives intellectual support to the land reform and indigenisation agenda that has been driven by President Mugabe and ZANU PF.
The cover design speaks about this watershed moment with the rising sun signalling a new chapter in the country’s historical walk.”
Historical background to the land quest
Daniel BodaNdlela (1981) gives a detailed list of Rhodesian land laws which evicted Africans from their ancestral lands and roots.
Chief among the alienating policies was The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 which “allocated over 50 percent of the total land area to the whites (who constituted only three percent of the population) and only 30 percent to the blacks (who constituted 97 percent of the population).”
The consequences of the spatial dislocation of the Zimbabweans and other Africans elsewhere were multifaceted, but of fundamental relevance to this cultural discourse is the fragmentation of the people’s spiritual metaphysical essence.
Indeed throughout the history of Zimbabwe, land has always been the most important political and economic issue in the country.
This can be traced back to the time of the Pioneer Column in the late 1800s and the subsequent legal instruments that were passed and entrenched to ensure division of the ownership of land between the two major races namely, blacks and whites.
Below is a cartographical summary of subsequent racial land laws:
The legislative Acts above restricted rights of the African to land ownership as shown by the skewed distribution reflected by the Table below:
Note that the land available for African use was now 28 591 606 acres or 29,8 per cent for a population estimated at 1 081 000 in 1930 while at the same time a European settler population of about 50 00 allocated itself 51 per cent of the best land (ibid).
Consequently, the agricultural economy of the indigenous people had been reduced to subsistence levels by the late 1930s.

Colonial education
Meanwhile, the introduction of colonial education was meant to serve the interests of colonial administrators who were in control of the political and socio-economic systems.
African schools served the colonial system by providing a pool of cheap labour. The deliberate devaluation of African cultures led to the hierarchical control and exploitation of indigenous people in a manner that was consistent with the colonial and imperial project.
Eurocentric knowledge was used as a system of control, controlling the social, moral, and economic lives of indigenous Africans.
Writing in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney points out that:
“The educated Africans were the most alienated on the continent.
“At each further stage of education, they were battered and succumbed to the white capitalist, and after being given salaries, they could then afford (if ever they did) to sustain a style of life imported from outside.
“That further transformed their mentality.” – (Rodney, 1982, p. 275)
The education system neither prepared indigenous Africans to take control of their social, cultural and economic lives, but did more than corrupt their thinking and sensibilities as Africans.
The system filled their minds with abnormal complexes which dehumanised and de-Africanised them leading to an alienated mindset (ibid).

Conclusion
It is against this background that the liberation struggle to get back the people’s land resulting in the Land Reform should be understood.
This struggle would not be complete without writers and intellectuals doing their part.
And indeed, Mtizira’s The Chimurenga Protocol is screaming evidence of the need to lend intellectual support to the programme.
It is a battle cry for all intellectuals to unleash themselves into the fray.

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