The Sunday News
Richard Runyararo Mahomva
At the birth of this column I vowed that all issues to be discussed here will not fall short of being Afrocentric, nor will they fall short of conglomerating African intellectual prowess servicing interests of decoloniality. Likewise, this weekly intellectual project still continues to engage any knowledge that undermines the dignity of Zimbabwe and the African continent. I made it clear, as I would repeat it once more; even outside this public sphere space of sharing opinion that my mandate is to pursue the de-westernisation of Africa’s thought processes.
Taking this thought route comes with many burdens, mainly leftist criticism. This particular way of thinking is often castigated and it usually secures one the visa to ideological antagonism from those opposed to appreciating the other side of truth regarding Zimbabwean politics. Anyone with such an ideological state of being is easily labelled a Zanu-PF apologist, even if they are not card carrying members of that party. Worse those who openly celebrate President Mugabe are easily categorised as “boot-lickers”. The unwanted open admiration to the ideological personhood of President Mugabe has become fashionable in the corridors of Zimbabwe’s socio-political commentary. This is another extension of the neo-colonial soft-power mechanisms to bury the progressive notions of the anti-colonial ideological rationale and consistency.
Regime change scholarship and pseudo democrats have played a crucial role in attempting to erase the legacy of decoloniality.
Part of the key mandates of this anti-African leftism is to demonise vanguards of the anti-colonial agenda all over Africa.
President Robert Mugabe is better celebrated outside Zimbabwe than he is celebrated by his own. As Christ warned, real prophets are not celebrated by their own and such is the case of President Mugabe and a particular section of our population.
An exodus from the remembering that dismembers
I had a difficult time thinking through the inevitable effects of reviewing a book that reflects the consistency of His Excellency’s ideological personhood. This particular discourse is not appreciated by many advocates of the “Mugabe Must Go” rhetoric, some of whom are avid followers of this column. This group of readers is always too quick to get angry on behalf of writers of Rhodesian narratives. This group of readers constantly complains about the absence of democracy in Zimbabwe yet they have the privilege to castigate Government officials and those who support the ideas of the ruling. To them plurality does not go beyond any idea delinked from their political socialisation and ideological bias. This handful of my good comrades from the other side of the ideological chasm that divides us hate the history of our country.
Like Paul writing to the foolish Galatians in the Bible, I do not know who bewitched them. Therefore, the intention of this week’s instalment is to avoid the unwanted confrontation with the hangovers of colonialism contained in some publications I have reviewed and some I am yet to review here.
My point of engagement this week is to emphasise that one does not need to love President Mugabe or be a supporter of the revolutionary party, Zanu-PF to appreciate the President’s ideological discipline from the infant stages of this country’s search for decolonisation. Even thereafter, 36 years down the line the man’s political principles are still intact. Therefore, the book of the week to be reviewed right up to next month is titled: “Our War of Liberation” (1983). This is a collection of President Mugabe’s speeches, articles and interviews recorded between 1976 and 1979. This period is very important in the history of our liberation struggle as it marked the last phase of the disassembling physical colonialism. This was the darkest hour before the dawn of Zimbabwe’s freedom.
Apart from the introduction by the late Dr Nathan Shamuyarira and Cde C Utete, the book is sub-divided into five sections which the revolutionary utterances of Robert Mugabe which were the bed-rock of the armed struggle. The first section is titled “Call to Arms — the Basis of the Struggle and the Nature of the Enemy”. The second section of the book is a focus on “History, Instruments and Objectives of the Struggle: the Party, the Army, Party Ideology and Party Line”. The third part of the book centres on “Constitutional and Political developments in Zimbabwe: 1975-1979”. The fourth section of the book features President Mugabe’s utterances on “Remembering Heroes of the Struggle and their Revolutionary Legacy”. This is where the aspect of remembering for the purposes of national building comes into effect unlike what is espoused in leftist scholarship characterised by a remembering that dismembers.
Zimbabwe’s foreign policy: Confronting a throw-back of history
Last, but not least, the book contains speeches on “International Solidarity, External Relations and Various Interviews”. This particular section of the book affirms the validity of one Professor Percy Sledge Chigora’s current research. Through this study, MSU Politics and Public Management lecturer, Professor Chigora assesses the role of the liberation movements’ foreign policy in the liberation struggle. The major interest of this study is to explain how liberation movements’ external relations have shaped the post-colonial foreign policy of this land. This has been further informed by the “Zimbabwe Will Never Be Colony Again” anti-colonial mantra by President Mugabe in his other book, “Inside the Third-Chimurenga” (2001). In this context, Professor Chigora’s research can be viewed as an analysis of how Zimbabwe’s foreign policy is a reflection of President Mugabe’s ideological consistency in relating with the friends and enemies of Zimbabwe. Likewise, at continental level he has done the same as affirmed by Dr Tafataona Mahoso:
Mugabe is now every African who is opposed to the British and North American plunder and exploitation . . . So, old Mugabe here is not the person of Robert Mugabe. Rather it is that powerful, elemental African memory going back to the first Nehanda and even to the ancient Egyptians and Ethiopians who are now reclaiming Africa in history as the cradle of humankind . . . The Zimbabwe opposition and their British, European and North American sponsors have exposed themselves as forces opposed to Mugabe as Pan-African memory, Mugabe as the reclaimer of African space, Mugabe as the African power of remembering the African legacy and African heritage which slavery, apartheid and imperialism thought they had dismembered for good . . . It is not accidental that both the opposition to Mugabe and its sponsors sought to denigrate African liberation history as outmoded and undemocratic traditions.
National Aspirations: If Mugabe is the answer then the question must be very old.
The five sections of this book explain the key values of President Mugabe’s leadership and how they construct his ideological sobriety since the time he joined the fight for Zimbabwe’s liberation. These five thematic projections of the book suggest a multi-faceted dimension of President Mugabe’s historical through-back in shaping Zimbabwe’s domestic and foreign policy. The book’s first port of call is explaining the leadership behaviour of President Mugabe in gathering the momentum of Zimbabwe’s decolonial path. As proved by history, part of the President’s mandate has been to mobilise Zimbabweans from all walks of life into adhering to the patriotic interests of the land. This objective of President Mugabe’s decolonial ideological marketing stands out in the book’s inaugural section. However, this has been facilitated by a history informed by national rituals as succinctly themed in the second section of the President’s chronicled thoughts. This also constitutes what I refer to in my forthcoming book as “Liberation theologies” of the Chimurenga-culture. The second faculty of the ideological personhood of President Mugabe in section two of the book, demonstrates the critical function of history in shaping the contemporary political consciousness of the country. This is an indication of ideological consistency that has overlapped from the colonial period right up to post-independence. In the same manner, one can look at how the party structure of Zanu-PF is historically grounded in shaping internal (party) and external (national) interests. This explains how history is a nerve of the party intellect as a system. This resonates with what President Mugabe and his other contemporaries have embraced before independence until today though some fell by the wayside and he continued to give a steadfast revisitation of the liberation goals through the land reform and the other means of decolonising the economy.
This is what is popularly embraced in Zanu-PF as the “gwara remusungano” which can be linked to the Zanla song, Kune nzira dzemasoja. This clearly articulates the one-way ideological fashion of Zanu-PF under the principle grounded leadership of President Mugabe.
Richard Runyararo Mahomva is an independent academic researcher, Founder of Leaders for Africa Network — LAN. Convener of the Back to Pan-Africanism Conference and the Reading Pan-Africa Symposium (REPS) and can be contacted on [email protected]