‘Know your heroes and enemies’

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By Prof Artwell Nhemachena

WHEN one does not know one’s enemies, one risks fighting one’s heroes. 

When one does not know one’s heroes, one risks worshipping one’s enemies.

When Cecil John Rhodes and his band of colonialists, including missionaries, came to Zimbabwe, they had to mislead Africans such that they would take their enemies for heroes and take their heroes for enemies.

Africans started to treat their ancestors, who were their heroes, as enemies; and started to treat the colonialists, who were the African enemies, as heroes.

Africans were misled to an extent they started to consider their mhondoros (ancestor-heroes) as demonic-enemies; and they started to treat colonialists’ ancestors, depicted as saints, as their heroes.

Africans started to treat their chiefs as enemies; and colonialists as their heroes.

Africans were misled to an extent they started to treat their own fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers as enemies; and colonialists as their hero-fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers.

Even in the 21st Century, Africans are misled such that they treat their own African leaders as enemies; and colonialists and their descendants as their heroes.

The point I am making is that Africans have been brainwashed by the colonial system not to see heroes among themselves. 

They have been trained to see enemies among themselves and in themselves.

A father or mother who bears and raises an African child risks being treated as an enemy by the child they bore and raised. 

The child has been hoodwinked by the colonial system to see enemies in their kind.

Similarly, an African leader who has fought for the freedom and liberation of an African risks being treated as an enemy by the African who he has freed and liberated.

Put differently, Africa has become a realm of confusion afflicted by the colonial demons of confusion which set child against father, child against mother, grandchild against grandchild, grandchild against grandmother, offspring against ancestor and African citizen against African leader.

It is not necessarily because African leaders have failed that some Africans fight against them but it is because the colonial demons of confusion have generally set African against African. 

Consequently, some Africans no longer see anything heroic from African heroic acts and deeds.

Zimbabwe’s war veterans have been demonised in the media and in scholarly books, particularly since the 1990s when they were awarded gratuities and pensions and when they assisted Zimbabweans get back their land from colonialists.

These are people who sacrificed their lives for the freedom and liberation of generations of Zimbabweans. Sadly, they are treated as villains and undeserving to repossess the land which they fought for or even the gratuities which they more than deserve.

Zimbabweans forget that even in the US, in Britain and all over the West, heroes are given the respect they deserve. Even those Westerners who enslaved Africans are still treated as heroes in 21st Century Western Europe.

Western heroes are paid awards not necessarily out of the hard-work of Westerners but out of proceeds of dispossessing and exploiting Africans. 

Yet Africans demonise their own African heroes when they demand recognition which they more than deserve. 

The fact of the matter is that what Westerners eat and what they payout to their heroes comes out of dispossessing and exploiting Africans. 

Yet Africans do not want their own African heroes to be paid as well.

When Westerners oppose the payment of awards to Zimbabwean heroes, it is because they want the awards and recognition to go to their own heroes in the West. They do not oppose the payment of awards to African heroes because they love ordinary Africans. 

So, Zimbabweans beware.

One would not imagine a child who does not want heroes’ awards to go to his/her father and mother but would be gleeful when the awards go to someone else’s heroes.

Similarly, one would not imagine a citizen who would not want heroes’ awards to his/her own African leader-heroes but would be gleeful when the heroes’ awards go to someone else’s heroes.

Today, Rhodes is celebrated and his grave at Matobo Hills is maintained, guarded, secured and visited by pilgrims even as King Mzilikazi’s grave lies close-by ‘abandoned in dereliction’. 

This is symptomatic of an African mind that has been corrupted by the colonial system. 

In the same vein, African ancestors’ graves lie abandoned everywhere and in dereliction even as colonial ‘saints’’ graves are secured, guarded, maintained and visited by pilgrims.

Similarly, African mothers and fathers live abandoned and in dereliction everywhere in Zimbabwe even as Zimbabweans are paying tithes to churches led by colonial ‘saints’ and missionaries who were part of the Pioneer Column which spearheaded the colonisation of Zimbabwe.

Of course, as is evident in the picture above, some black Africans left their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers and siblings to assist the colonial Pioneer Column which spearheaded the dispossession and exploitation of Africans.

Instead of assisting their kind who sought to preserve the African heritage, they chose to assist the colonial Pioneer Column in plundering African heritages.

The Pioneer Column is not merely historical; it is still with us in the 21st Century. 

They have entered and colonised Zimbabwe on the pretext of civilisation, now they seek to enter and colonise Zimbabwe under the pretext of ‘democracy, human rights, good governance and rule of law’.

It was as if Africans did not have their own civilisation, democracy, human rights, good governance and rule of law. 

Colonialists seek to present themselves as heroes in Africa. 

Even as they demonise Zimbabwe’s liberation war heroes and heroines, colonialists present themselves as economic heroes, heroes of farming, heroes of mining and as investor-heroes in Zimbabwe.

It is, in all, a struggle to be recognised as heroes. 

They want to be recognised as heroes even after they have enslaved and colonised Africans for centuries.

Of course, they would not want to be heroes for the good things such as returning the land, minerals and livestock which they stole during the colonial era. 

They would not want to be heroes for good things such as paying reparations to African victims of enslavement and colonisation.

Zimbabweans need to support their real heroes and stop pulling the wagons of the Pioneer Column into 21st Century Zimbabwe.

There is no worse thing than becoming a terrorist to oneself and terrorising one’s own interests. Unfortunately, this is what colonial ideologies have made Africans into – terrorists of their own African interests; terrorists to their own leaders, terrorists to their own spouses, terrorists to their own parents and terrorists to their own heroes.

The poverty and suffering in Zimbabwe, and Africa more broadly, is not necessarily because African leaders have failed. 

It is because Africans have become terrorists to themselves. 

Even the US knows that terrorists are not good for the world and for global development. 

Zimbabweans, and all Africans, need to introspect —terrorism is not reducible to Al Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or to Osama Bin Laden.

Are we not terrorising our ancestors? 

Are we not terrorising our parents and leaders and are we not terrorising our communities by acting against their interests, values, persons and cultures, among others?

If civilisation legitimised colonial terrorism, does Western democracy not legitimise neo-colonial terrorism? 

If Westerners weaponised civilisation to colonise Africa, will they not weaponise democracy to recolonise Africa? 

Is democracy without restitution and reparations not a weaponised form of democracy?

Be patriotic to the nation, to African ancestry, to parents, to grandparents and to one’s marriage and family. 

Patriotism guarantees the existence of fiduciary relations that are needed for development and peace.

Wisdom lies in knowing one’s heroes and in knowing one’s enemies.

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