By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
‘REVALUATION’ is a concept borrowed from economics.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of Economics, it means:
1. “A change in the basis of valuing a company’s assets in its accounts. “This may be necessary because of general inflation or because of changes in the real value of particular assets.”
2. “A rise in the value of a country’s currency.”
The Shona equivalent of the concept would be kuvandudza or kuvandurira.
The Bible gives us another dimension of the relationship between escape or removal and devaluation; between homecoming and revaluation.
The prodigal son devalued his life and dignity by taking and squandering his inheritance with strangers and outsiders, until he was forced to seek a job to feed pigs.
For lack of rations, he had to eat the bean pods and fruit peels meant for the pigs, according to Luke 15:
“At last he came to his senses, reassessed his position, and revalued his father’s assets, saying: ‘All my father’s hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve!’
“‘I will get up and go to my father’.”
The prodigal son reaffirmed his identity, reassessed his situation, and revalued his father’s endowment.
African history associates removal, especially forced removal, with the devaluation and dehumanisation of African life, African dignity and assets; it associates homecoming with reassessment, revaluation and redemption of the same.
Africans forcibly removed to the Americas through slavery became slaves and negroes; Africans forcibly removed by apartheid from their lands and from white towns in South Africa were called “black spots” or “superfluous appendages”
Africans removed from their lands and dispossessed of their assets in Rhodesia became mere “hands” when they were reduced to cheap labourers for settlers.
The white settlers’ terror machine used to remove Africans from their land and to steal their cattle in the 1890s in Rhodesia was called ‘The Loot Committee’. Even to this day, Africans forced by various causes to leave Africa for white countries are described in white racist media as “illegal aliens”, “exiles”, “refugees”, “economic refugees”, and “border jumpers”.
But the same white media describes white persons seeking wealth and employment in Africa and other non-European places as, “explorers”, “pioneers”, “discoverers”, “expatriates”, “missionaries”, “programme officers”, “professionals”, “consultants”, “donors” and “investors”.
Therefore Africa, Africans and African assets are in dire need of revaluation. And that revaluation has consistently been associated with homecoming.
For instance, on May 25 Africans will celebrate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on that day in 1963.
When one reads the account of the gathering of African heads of state and leaders of liberation movements at that momentous occasion in Addis Ababa, it is obvious that the founding of the OAU was the climax of an all-Africa homecoming movement bringing together African leaders who had left Africa to study abroad and come back, such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Dr Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
This continental homecoming was first celebrated on African soil at the All African People’s Conference organised by Dr Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana in 1958.
The African homecoming expressed through the 1958 Conference and the 1963 launch of the OAU dramatised two milestones:
l Africa’s revaluation of its potential power, its dignity, its assets and its destiny.
l Africa’s reassessment of the white man’s alleged mission of civilisation and development in Africa, resulting in the OAU resolution that no African nation should consider itself free until every square inch of the continent was liberated from colonialism and apartheid.
The Sunday Mail of May 18 2014 reported that the African land reclamation movement and the recent revolution in land tenure had resulted in an urban-to-rural migration pattern unique to Zimbabwe, which suggested that incomes earned in urban centres or repatriated from abroad had since 2002 been invested in rural resettlement areas.
This is supported by Professor Ian Scoones’ on-going research on asset acquisition and construction by resettled farmers.
See ‘Land reform programme fuels asset accumulation’, in The Chronicle, April 22 2014.
This homecoming also puts into context The Chronicle story on May 16 2014, entitled, ‘(Zimbabwe) Diaspora petition for (agricultural) land’.
These stories mean that, through the general process which I define as ‘homecoming’, the African land revolution, which the white press has demonised as a disaster and a near-holocaust, has been revalued.
After visiting the country, those who used to condemn the purpose and methods of Zimbabwe’s land revolution now praise the same or at least accept African reasons for it.
The African youths who liberated Zimbabwe through the armed struggle were not prodigal sons and daughters.
Upon arrival back on the soil of Zimbabwe, they were forced to reassess their position and to revalue the peasant communities from which they had to launch the armed struggle.
In Guns and Rain: Guerrillas and Spirit Mediums in Zimbabwe, David Lan described some of the reassessment and revaluation as follows:
“The contribution of the mhondoro mediums to the guerrilla war was that they made the acceptance of the guerrillas (by peasants) easier, quicker, more binding and more profound by allowing this new feature in the experience of the peasantry to be assimilated to established symbolic categories (of homecoming)…”
The returning youngsters, now guerrillas, realised a value in the peasant community which their education under colonial missionaries did not recognise or understand.
The mhondoro and the totally disarmed Madzishe also realised the value of the training and the weapons which the guerrillas brought back home.
“Within a short period of their arrival in Dande, the ZANLA guerrillas were incorporated into local social categories.
“The (home) category into which they were placed was ‘descendants of the mhondoro’, which is to say that they were regarded as members of the royal lineages.”
Masvikiro akawandudza nekukwidiridza chimiro chevarwi verusununguko mukuona kwepovo.
With that homecoming and incorporation, the dariro as pungwe was now complete.
It helped to remember the African communities which the settler regime had dismembered through its land theft, land re-allocation and mass removals and resettlements of chiefs and their people.
By bringing home one political movement with an armed wing, ZANLA guerrillas helped to turn the whole countryside into an inter-linked series of pungwes.
This homecoming and linking of separated units became the heart of the revolution at home.
This was Pan-Africanism brought home to a micro-level.
This is the revolution which is still crying out for completion, as the new elites begin to seek a re-engagement with the west, a re-engagement which seems divorced from unhu and Chimurenga.
Leaders of nationalist parties throughout the continent have a habit of forgetting the povo and allowing their leaders to be integrated into the Western system of co-optation and betrayal.
Unity with the povo is what distinguished the Second Chimurenga and made the guerrillas succeed.
According to Lan:
“The role of the African nationalist parties is therefore the most important feature, and perhaps the only truly original one, that distinguishes the recent (1970s) war from all the wars and rebellions of the past.”
The spiritual and philosophical meaning of homecoming therefore is the re-awakening of native genius to its potential, its originality and its native assets.