By Tawanda Chenana
WE, in the village, are so happy and proud to see Zimbabweans growing in leaps and bounds, through their own efforts.
The Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe liyakhwa ngabanikazi philosophy has taken root and is being practised.
We do not underestimate the work done by selfless men and women who gave their all to get rid of white minority rule based on abusing Africans right from 1890 up to 1980.
In the village, significant developments are happening. During the colonial era, the words ‘poverty’, ‘ruzevha’ and ‘Africans’ carried the same meaning.
Education for whites was made free and compulsory starting in 1930 and an apartheid educational syllabus for blacks was designed and implemented to contain the ambitions of the black majority.
In Rhodesia, we lived a life designed by settler-whites to deny us a decent life and reasonable opportunities for self-improvement and progress.
In a free Zimbabwe, under a progressive and forward thinking leadership, we are thriving.
If we are to continue on the development trajectory and not be derailed, we must understand that the African notion of ‘being’ is markedly different from the non-African notion of ‘being’.
It is time we fully embrace and appreciate our ways, in doing and thinking.
For instance, the meaning of education in African philosophy differs markedly from the Western notion of being educated.
The controlling philosophy of Western thought can be summarised by Descartes’ popularised dictum: “Cogito, ergo sum”, which literally means: “I think, therefore I exist” or “I am because I think.”
It is clear from this dictum that Western philosophy is individual-centred.
It is individualistic and self-serving.
Prime value in Western conception of being is given to an individual person.
The individual is the hero or heroine.
African philosophy, however, is inherently collectivist in nature and is encapsulated in the concept of ubuntu: “I am because we are; I can only be a person through others”.
It is time we solve all our problems using African value sets, culture and thought patterns.
Unlike the more self-serving and individualist paradigm of the West, where strong individuals and achievers in society are valued, we are witnessing development that is leaving no-one and no place behind.
We must measure being successful by assessing individuals against the following social skills checklist: respect for the dignity of others; group solidarity – an injury to one is an injury to all; teamwork – none of us is greater than all of us; services to others in the spirit of harmony and interdependence, each one of us needs all of us.
In our upper-middle income economy, let us not have an individualistic society where there is a greater emphasis on self-interest, just as in the village.
We must consider the needs of the group first, believing that in doing so, individual needs and desires will be met.
Our education must lead in developing a patriotic citizen.
A truly educated person is schooled in the values of his/her people and thus possesses the social skills that make him/her fit in the society he/she is born into which they are expected to keep, cherish and nourish by good deeds.
Let us have individuals who personify the unity of their people and live the values of their communities in an exemplary way.
Growth or development which does not directly serve the community is no progress at all.
Compassion, caring, sharing and responsiveness to the needs of the community as a whole must be the hallmark of our work in our communities.
Non-governmental organisations that bring us development, through ‘Western’ lenses bereft of shared human values do not serve us at all.
In the context of the collectivist African paradigm, development is service to the community, and fits like a round peg in the community hole.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ensured that our development is inclusive and comprehensive, not skewed.
And it is up to us to ensure that this growth is sustainable by playing our part, all of us.