The Luke Thembani story: Tragedy of buying one’s own land


IN retrospect, the struggle for Zimbabwe feels messianic in a manner that is becoming crystal clear only now, after the likes of Luke Thembani have gone to the ends of the earth to demonise the empowerment of fellow black people through the compulsory acquisition and redistribution of the land for which black ancestors were murdered by homosexual British racists, Cecil John Rhodes and company.
Today, one feels humbled by the mere thought that those who lie at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Mukushi, Freedom Camp, Chibondo and everywhere in Zimbabwe indeed laid down their lives in order for us to recover our land without paying our dispossessors for it.
In 1983, Luke Thembani bought a farm from a white commercial farmer called Muller.
This was three years after the liberation war in which over 50 000 black people had died in suicidal desperation to end a genocidal colonial arrangement in which they had become slaves to racist aliens on land that was their birthright.  
The irrefutable logic behind armed liberation struggle had been to recover and redistribute heritage that was taken from black ancestors through an act of racist genocide.
The logic behind armed liberation struggle was not to buy back that land, but to compulsorily recover it for free re-distribution to landless black masses.
While I do not exactly know who Muller was, colonial experience tells me that if he was a Rhodesian, he would have been a member of the Rhodesian territorial forces and therefore an active participant in the genocide that white Rhodesia instituted to preserve exclusive white privilege and rights founded on the abuse of black people.
In Rhodesia, all white males above 18 years were subject to military call-up to defend ill-gotten white wealth through genocide.
And, none can absolve themselves from blame because all had a choice to leave Rhodesia if they so much as had even an ounce of conscience to question human rights to land holdings founded on genocide.
For example, Jeremy Brickhill was a conscientious objector who instead joined ZIPRA and fought to end property rights and privileges founded on the racist abuse of black people by white Rhodesians.
On the other hand, the same cannot be said of David Coltart who enlisted to defend exclusive white privilege even before he turned 18.
Or Roy Bennett, who  used his proficiency in indigenous languages to man Rhodesian security forces interrogation chambers from which very few black people suspected of supporting their own liberation ever walked out alive.
Or Mike Campbell, Benjamin Freeth’s apartheid war criminal father-in-law, who brought with him unforgiving apartheid evil into the Chegutu farming region.
And, not to be outdone, the wounds Iain Kay wrought on his Svosve victims are still festering, over three decades after the act intended to retain exclusive white privilege.     
These are facts Luke Thembani was obviously too simple-minded to consider when he proceeded to buy land for which thousands of Zimbabweans had died in order for him to simply take from the vanquished racists.   
And this was notwithstanding that according to the Lancaster House Agreement, he was not supposed to buy himself the land if he so wanted it.
According to the Lancaster House Agreement, the money to buy back land from Rhodesians was supposed to be availed by Britain as the colonising power that had sponsored the settlers.
Therefore, for Luke Thembani the money to pay Muller for the farm should have come from Britain.
And, if Thembani had recognised that, he would have advocated his time, effort and money towards compulsory acquisition and redistribution of the stolen land.
Yet, instead, he chose to impress the robber colonial community by paying their asking price and in time, the associated debts overwhelmed him.  
And he curiously blamed the government of Zimbabwe for the predicament he created for himself.
And it is difficult to pity him, given the extent he went in misrepresenting irrefutable facts on the ground.
He even joined the apartheid war criminal, Mike Campbell and his self-righteous British-born son-in-law Benjamin Freeth in trying to get the now defunct Southern African Development Community Tribunal to reverse black empowerment through land reform in Zimbabwe.
Today, Thembani cannot own up that he made a bad choice.
It is clear that he never understood or respected the logic of the liberation struggle; otherwise he would not have bought land he could have gotten for free because it was a liberated birthright.
And sad as his case is, there is another sense in which one could say that Luke Thembani actually got what he deserved when the debts associated with his purchase overwhelmed him and he lost the farm.
His case epitomises exactly what colonial design had intended, which is that a black man was never supposed to be able to buy back land dispossessed from his ancestors.
And, conversely, the dire straits bedeviling Luke Thembani now also vindicate the armed liberation struggle and compulsory acquisition and redistribution of land. Otherwise, how else would black peasants impoverished by colonial design be able to recover their lost heritage?
But perhaps the saddest thing for us is that the local Western regime-change sponsored private media has not been truthful in the manner it has covered the Thembani story.
It has reported the Thembani story in a manner that demonises the Government of Zimbabwe and its perfectly legitimate agrarian black empowerment programme.
It has reported the case as if Thembani’s farm was compulsorily acquired by the Government.  
Yet, what is clear from the horse’s mouth is that Thembani’s farm was not compulsorily acquired for redistribution to fellow black people.
He lost it after failing to service a loan (he acknowledges), from Agribank.
What is crystal clear and irrefutable is that the Government of Zimbabwe’s compulsory acquisition and redistribution of land from white settlers to indigenous black people who had been colonially stripped of the right and capacity to own their own land is the best thing that any African government could do to its people. It was a vindication of liberation struggle.
One feels that if Thembani had been realistic from the very beginning and accepted that the liberation struggle had been waged in order to take the land for free, he would have fought to be a beneficiary of land reform rather than join his erstwhile dispossessors, in the hope of keeping his own black kith and kin in poverty.
It is clear from the 77-year-old’s choices that his age is tragically far more advanced than his wisdom.  
This is a truth the Western-sponsored regime-change media must also accept and publish.


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