By Dr Vimbai Gukwe Chivaura
HISTORY is ‘current affairs’.
The past and future are in the present.
The idea that history are past events not here with us is a colonial idea to mislead Africans into thinking that colonialism is gone so that the whiteman can continue to plunder Africans of their heritage right in front of the African nose with the Africans thinking that the whiteman’s plunder of their heritage right now has nothing to do with colonialism which they are told is long gone.
That is the purpose of concepts such as ‘post-colonialism’ which suggest that colonialism is gone; and ‘post-liberation struggles’ and ‘post-independence struggles’ which suggest that ‘struggles for liberation and independence are gone’ and the struggles now have nothing to do with liberation or independence.
But history, colonialism, imperialism and liberation struggles against them are not gone.
They are here with us.
Those who say they are gone are those who have given up the struggle and wish us to also give up the struggle.
Colonialism and imperialism and the struggles to liberate ourselves from them are ‘a current affair’, whether we have capitulated to imperialism or not.
For as Dr John Henrik Clarke always reminds us, the events that happened 5 000 years ago, five years ago or five minutes ago have determined what will happen five minutes from now, five years from now and 5 000 years from now.
And knowledge of history as ‘current affairs’ functions as a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day.
It also functions as a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography.
That is to say, the teaching or knowledge of history as ‘current affairs’ awakens a people to know what they have been, where they have been, what they are and where they are.
But the most important role of history as ‘current affairs’ is to show a people where they still must go and what they still must be.
Any teaching of history that fails to do so is hopeless.
And history as past events has never awakened a people.
Also knowledge of history as a preserve of a few elite who have nicknamed themselves ‘historians’ has never awakened a people from colonial slumber.
This kind of elitist history is also only made accessible to a few select students in high Schools and university enclaves called, History Departments, under the roofs of houses called, Faculties of Arts, or Humanities.
This kind of elitist history is unknown to those doing Law, Agriculture, Medicine, Business, Mining, Engineering or herding cattle in rural areas.
These subjects or activities are referred to as a-historical and not supposed to awaken those engaged in them to know that what happened in Business, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Agriculture, Mining and to our cattle 5 000 years ago, five years ago and five minutes ago has affected what’s happening in Business, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Mining, Agriculture and the cattle that we have right now.
Worse still, history as past events does not even awaken the so-called history professors themselves and their students or nation as a whole to the gruesome fact that the air we breathe right now and in the water we drink right now are from rivers polluted by industries created by colonialism.
To appreciate that history is indeed ‘a current affair’ in Zimbabwean public life, just turn on your television set or radio, or visit any movie theatres in Zimbabwe.
The majority of films that Zimbabweans watch on television and movie theatres and the majority of programmes and songs they broadcast on Zimbabwe radio and TV channels promote the culture, values, history and escapades of their European colonisers.
Also the fact that African leaders and parliamentarians speak to their people or nations in European languages, which are also used as mediums of instruction at every level of education in schools and universities, is testimony that colonialism in Zimbabwe is ‘a current affair’.
There is also evidence everywhere of people who yearn to be as white as their colonisers.
And saloons and cosmetic doctors are ready to peel their black skin off and break their broad noses up and reshape them in the whiteman’s colonial image.
Many other examples around us show that colonialism is not ‘post-colonialism’ and ‘liberation struggles’ are not ‘post-liberation struggles’, but ongoing struggles against colonialism as ‘a living force’ in our daily lives.
Unless we awaken to this fact and intensify our liberation struggles, we will be perpetual spiritual slaves of colonialism and Europe.