Power: The Guest of Time
By Fred T. Makonese
Published by University of Zimbabwe Publication (2018)
IN his 1998 hit titled ‘Tsika Dzedu’, legendary musician, the late Oliver Mtukudzi sang, “Dada nerudzi rwako, chimiro chako nedzinza rako, pembedza rurimi pwere dzigotevera.”
His message was simple.
Be proud of your origins and identity.
No matter how hard one tries, none can change a person’s origins.
Through slavery and colonisation, whites have tried to manipulate blacks into disowning their origins.
African history and culture have been deemed inferior.
Sadly, some Africans have been hoodwinked.
They now think being ‘white’ is superior.
They shun their origins, resulting in alienation and their demise.
Just like Mtukudzi, who was on a drive to decolonise the minds of his audience, educationist-cum-writer Fred Makonese penned the book Power: The Guest of Time which aims to inculcate a sense of pride in Africans.
Power: The Guest of Time is an anthology of 26 poems.
In the poem ‘Man from Africa’, Makonese writes about how whites have made blacks feel inferior.
This was not by chance.
It was all part of a grand strategy to make blacks feel worthless.
Whites want Africans to hate their history and culture and once Africans lose their pride, they will not feel the need to defend their heritage.
“They call me primitive
Because to them I behave like a medieval native
Treating my wife and kids like captive
Sticking to a culture they call retrogressive,” writes Makonese.
During colonisation, African traditions and value systems were labelled ‘ancient and demonic’.
Africans were forced to do away with their culture, but as the Shona adage goes: “Chinonzi regera ndechiri mumaoko chiri mumoyo unofa nacho,” Africans held on to their birthright.
“Culture, culture, what is culture?
Culture to me means identity
Culture is a way of life
Culture is origin
Culture is a history
Culture is institutional memory
Culture is a birthright,” writes Makonese.
In the poem ‘I’m black and I’ve Passion’, Makonese writes about how blacks have remained committed to defending their heritage and birthright.
“I’m black and prejudiced
I’ve been cheated out of my God
And now ashamed to claim my own heritage
Ashamed to call the names of my forefathers,
My champions, in prayer
I’m black and naive
Exposed and vulnerable
It’s easy to take anything from me
My name, my people, my god, my religion,
My home, my wealth, my essence
I’m black and I’ve Passion,” writes Makonese.
Despite efforts to strip blacks of their origins, Makonese notes that Africans have not lost the zeal and determination to protect themselves.
In the poem, ‘My Heritage’, the writer speaks on the land issue.
One of Africa’s major natural resource is the land.
From the land, Africans have practiced agriculture and mining.
As such, Makonese feels there is need to safeguard the land.
“On this land is my heritage
For everything heritable is deposited in its belly
And every spectacle on its face
Yet like a treasure trove, its value inconspicuous
Its aesthetic quality innocuous,” writes Makonese.
It was the need to reclaim the land that had been taken away by whites that drove thousands of young men and women to take up arms against the colonial regime.
In the poem ‘On the Altar of Our Revolution’, the writer celebrates the gallant sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives to fight the Ian Smith regime.
Their efforts were not in vain as Zimbabwe attained its independence on April 18 1980.
“On the Altar of our revolution lie men and women of character
Whose resolve for national cause reversed a historical disaster
Whose principles for the black man’s struggle need apprehension
Whose heroic roles in our fight for emancipation are beyond admonition
Whose Chimurenga names and history are memorable
And love for country cherishable,” writes Makonese.
As Zimbabweans continue to enjoy the fruits of independence, Makonese urges them to own their history and future.
In ‘Racially Harmony’, the writer speaks on how, in some instances, whites have tried to remove Africans from Africa’s story.
“I’ve always wanted to be the main actor in my own history
But because of my blackness
Now I compete to interpret my own self
They teach me to be racially conscious
Racially aware so I don’t become racist,” writes Makonese.
As the saying goes: ‘The story of the hunt is told by the hunter and not the prey’, blacks should be on the forefront in narrating Africa’s story.
After all, Africa is the cradle of mankind.
We must tell our own stories.