The Sunday News
When we were still grappled by awe of the sudden twist and turn of events in our country, from random claims to memorial speeches, one would be quick to make special mention that the end days are nigh.
I am one such person who delays in making conclusions yet I dreadfully enjoy watching the drama as it unfolds so that one day I live to narrate to theatrics to those who will only learn of it in literature — such is Zimbabwe at this hour; many things are happening — let us sit back and watch, as the grannies say, sizabona lapho okuyawela khona induku loxakuxaku.
Like any weekly scribe I am tempted to share my opinion on the main events of the week which seem to be shaping the political destiny of our country as history is being re-written but I shall hush and concentrate on yet another pressing issue. An insult to the whole nation I should say where one old man is hung up in Rhodesia, in my opinion, dispelled by a concoction of racial hegemony starving African attention and quenching it with a tired revoking of a slurry history, the very history which has borne the plague stridently rampaging our country. Apologies to say this again this week;
Tribalism as a desperate identity formula is a creeping rodent scavenging the little left of our humanity, should we not rethink how it was formed and what it forms we are determined and destined for the great national fall.
The past two weeks saw a resurrection of Rhodes’ ghost in the form of a white man. I believe in a desperate trod attempting to resuscitate a disappointing and drenching opposition whose camps in all angles are swooping and damping all hopes of the vibrancy they used to squalor in.
I should remark that every Zimbabwean enjoys their freedom of expression and it should be respected as enshrined in the document we voted yes to in 2013. I subscribe to the opinion that anyone is entitled to their opinion and they are right in their wrongness, in any case mad men think we are insane and they are fine with it — fruits of liberation, if you ask me.
With that in mind, I categorically remind all sundry that the freedom of expression is not an absolute right, it should be drilled with responsibility, cautiously and constructively, accordingly, we seek legitimacy of the expressive one holds. We question your locus standi when you make declarations in the guise of freely expressing yourself. In some instances, if not most, governments censor expressive content if it is harmful to the society and grinds off the very fabric of the society, this is all done in good faith of protecting the society and protecting you from your harmful self.
A blurry line exists on when do we permit freedom of expression, when should it be taken away and the libertarian opinion that freedom of expression is a fundamental right and it should not be exempted becomes folly because should we relax on their view, we would absolutely create a post-modern society, where everything is relative even the definition and existence of the world order will be a lie in itself.
With democracy being the defence of the freely expressive I wonder if we should ignore what Eddie Cross has not only said recently but what in my opinion, he has always represented.
I shall use his recently published piece which struck rumpus in this other southern half of the country where concerns of marginalisation and exclusion have been used as a political capital currency.
Dispute it or not, one truth they hold and we share is that tribalism is a scourge in our country and is draining the last saps of our progress as a nation and its not only existing in the quarters of the Ndebele vs the Shona but it’s also intra, where the VaShona tribes are also pursuing self-determination through cultural re-ignition, the same is happening in Matabeleland, cultures are re-imaging and substantiating their existence isolated from what has always been perceived as super cultures and it is expected in any cultural fusion setup.
What becomes worrisome is when Eddie Cross assumes the role of being a tribal commentator when his very race is the reason why our politics is now infested with tribal opinions first before rational ideas.
I cannot overrule that tribal feuds and existence is a long term phenomenon in Zimbabwe as it ensued the governance of our grandfathers, but colonialism which Eddie Cross is a beneficiary of, created a new order of governance, control of Africa and a re-arrangement of tribes and awarding their preferred tribes power to rule over others so that they protect their interests.
The rapid exclusion of an organic transition of power in African set-ups made sure that tribal conflicts in Africa become the benchmark of power in a Westernised political system which Mr. Cross selectively chooses to ignore when he makes his conclusion in his piece titled “Are our tribal roots still relevant?” Mr Cross, when your “grandfather” assisted in drawing borders on Africa, they defined, analysed and reconstructed our being and selected a philosophy of history which was meant to make it easier for them to understand us, and they created a long lived myth of our being and as a beneficiary of that system you seem to be still playing that role of re-organising what your forefathers started and you bank on the susceptibility of our people on that matter and the momentum which the scourge is now residing on.
Furthermore, commenting on your political party’s disintegration is permissible but when you use the tribal currency to tender your political relevance which is something we as black people are struggling to address, you are no different if not worse from Paul Berthoud and Enerst Creux who camped in the Eastern Cape. In 1872 they were bent on replacing African heterogeneity with their own model of homogeneity created around ethnicity in order to understand us. That was the worst form of racism ever to be exercised, when you get to a people, reorganise them by orthographing a language based on your understanding and categorising them based on your evaluation and telling them a new order of difference and later on when your grand-children grow, they re-invent a political system which demonises the native one but use rabid tools of assuming power further confusing them.
I find it ironic that Eddie Cross’ “great grandfather” came out to southern Africa in 1867 as a Baptist missionary to the Eastern Cape as well where he played a significant role in the country of his adoption and founded several Baptist Churches in South Africa.
It is the same missionaries, Berthoud and Creux of the Paris Missionary Society and Eddie’s “great grandfather” who played a significant colonial role of reorganising the African Society in how bad it is today. It is his “grandfather”, at one stage who played a key role in the Smuts administration that was defeated by the Nationalist Party in 1949 when he was the Chief Magistrate of South Africa, a white repressive rule which imposed hegemony on blacks and classified them so that they do not unite to rebel against them.
Mr. Cross’ opinions are very detrimental to our society today, not that he is white only but because of the social capital he possesses. I hate to say this, but white privilege exists and it is still gripping our society.
Most of us are furnished with the knowledge of the supremacy of white knowledge such that our behaviour around white people and our reception of what they say carries more weight than the exact same thing said by Mseyamwa.
This socialisation is a thoroughbred of Cross’ ancestry whose education system successfully normalised knowledge as a preserve of those with no melanin.
When Mr. Cross points to the Ndebele and Kalanga grouping in their party, he does not only insult and derogates the politically active but the whole fraternity of Ndebeles and Kalangas represented by the few he slurs.
His claims cease to be political but ethnical and offending to the whole nation where the exact names in his party belong to — it’s no longer about MDC Alliance but about Uluntu lwethu.
He says “It has not been an easy road to walk, Ndebele interests always wanted special recognition and representation and the influence of tribal affiliation is found in all areas of the country . . . Now suddenly the spectre of Ndebele Nationalism is raising its head again”, so when it once did, it was wrong? How black is he to tell us how natives should or should not behave?
When he makes those conclusions which I think are dumbfounded there is a greater risk of many vulnerable who buy into his sentiments because of his white privilege social capital. Because of that, he should be reprimanded.
These are the times when we start to think that white people whether born in Zimbabwe have no right to comment on issues of black people, they are beneficiaries of an oppressive system and the majority of our predicament is a construction of their genealogy. Mr Cross, you crossed the line.