Reigniting the Pieterson flame


ON June 16 1976, an iconic image of a South African student, Hector Pieterson, in Soweto, gripped the world and brought to the fore the evils of the apartheid regime in that country.

It is an enduring image which spurred many across the world to fight bigotry.

And it is not difficult to understand why even those who are opposed to the liberation struggle have somehow drawn what they call courage from that painful image. 

Every year, in this country, there is always an attempt by people in the opposition to equate themselves to the iconic Pieterson.

It is always camera and action; fake stories created for a certain audience outside Zimbabwe and to push the anti-ZANU PF agenda for the West.

When the MDC trio of Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova posted their images on social media on May 13 2020, claiming they were embarking on a demonstration in the sprawling Warren Park suburb, it was the same script playing all over again.

The attempt to overshadow Pieterson was all over the show, but the anger from the EU and Western embassies swiftly laid bare the lies in their script.

The women would later emerge in Bindura, some 80km north of the capital Harare, at Muchapondwa Shopping Centre, telling the world that they had been abducted by alleged state security agents.

We will not go deep into this fiasco since the matter is before the courts, but we cannot help but unravel some of the inconsistencies in their narrative.

We will just pose one question that will help in solving this ‘mystery’.

How did their captors allow them to buy and enjoy chicken at that food outlet in Harare?

And videos of the women having good bites of chicken will be made public in the near future.

But this 2020 is a year of desperation and desperate antics by the MDC.

And the year 2020 was, in the eyes of the opposition MDC, meant to signal ZANU PF’s death knell, with Nelson Chamisa promising a wave of protests against Government and even giving May as the month President Emmerson Mnangagwa should have left office. 

That did not happen.

And it will not happen in the near future.

Yet that story would certainly have grabbed the headlines in the West where the embattled MDC ‘leader’ draws ‘inspiration’ and ‘wisdom’ from.

That he is a novice, an individual who sadly found wisdom in grabbing power during a funeral, is now a matter of public record that no longer deserves dedication from any sane writer.

What is alarming is how he has failed to garner lessons from the past which is still fresh in our memories. 

Perhaps Operation Lighthouse, which was exposed by The Sunday Mail, can provide some insights into why the MDC has sunk into default mode.

Let us quote from The Sunday Mail what this operation is all about:

“Some elements in the opposition have been actively working with foreign missions under an operation code-named ‘Operation Lighthouse’ to cause civil disturbances in the country under the cover of hardships caused by coronavirus, it has been learnt.

The elaborate plot was designed to culminate in bloodshed that would have attracted condemnation and further isolation of the country, which is currently trying to engage and re-engage with the world.

Confidential information gleaned by this paper showed that the operation was supposed to have been rolled out in three phases, with the first stage expected to be ignited through ‘sporadic’ or ‘flash’ demonstrations.

Calculated to coincide with the ongoing lockdown, where restrictions on movement have been imposed, the demonstrations were expected to provoke a disproportionate reaction from the security forces after which international condemnation was expected to follow.

“In line with this, the recent flash demonstration led by MDC Harare West Member of Parliament Joana Mamombe, in Warren Park, was supposed to be the trigger for phase two.”

Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri allegedly led a demonstration in Warren Park, Harare, on May 13 2020.

They later claimed to have been abducted by security agents.”

There is an explanation to what Chamisa is trying to do, especially in the wake of the embarrassing split that his party is going through.

He has a desire to present himself as a rare breed of politician in the world and that, too, has been a spectacular flop.

We will go academic on this issue.

This desire for the individual to become his/her own man against societal expectation leads to social neurosis, which impacts negatively on familial, communal and national discourses (Ziwira, 2015). 

Defined as a mental disorder, neurosis causes obsessive fears, depression and unreasonable behaviour. 

According to Boeree in ‘A Bio-Social Theory of Neurosis’ (2002), neurosis is hereditary and refers to a variety of psychological challenges involving persistent experiences of negative effect including anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, cognitive problems, such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, habitual fantasising and cynicism. 

As everything starts from the mind, the individual contemplates the reality of his/her existence in relation to the world he/she believes exists somewhere else. 

This creation of a make-believe world may be destructive if what is expected does not come to fruition, leading to anger, anxiety and sadness (Boeree, 2002). 

Freud (1904, 1923, 1930) concurs with Boeree’s clinical notion of neurosis. 

Jung (1961, 1989) notes: 

“I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life.” 

Since colonialism affects the psyche, like a disease (neurosis), it is incurable because, to the oppressed, it is a permanent condition or state that is “…lived, and relived; generation after generation, thus becoming an intricate social system” (Ziwira 2015, Lacan, 1973:45), thus journeying in search of better opportunities becomes pervasive in colonial and post-colonial states.  

The colonised (natives) are so traumatised their thinking is shaped by the experiences of the coloniser (master), thus, in the end the entire nation is neurotically affected as highlighted  in Spivak’s “…retrospective hallucination” (Spivak, 1967:275).

Meehan (1995) cited in Fletcher (2016) argues that:

“When the fabric of a child’s relationship to self and to other is woven in threads of domination, the seeds of disrespect and domination are sown, and children may grow to be adults whose very construction of others undercuts the possibility of respect (Fletcher, 2016:11).”

Thus, when children are raised to think in terms of us and the other, the tendency is to “…conform to norms rather than accept them, due to a distorted, discrediting sense of their worth as epistemic agents or out of a need to not call attention to themselves by destabilising the status quo” (ibid).

We leave it there and may the eternal flame of the great Pieterson continue to shine on progressive youths of our world….youths with no neurosis of any type.

Let those with ears listen.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here