The Sunday News
Richard Runyararo Mahomva
Philosophically situating Mahoso
Post-colonial intellectuals have the arduous task of recentering Africa in the uneven global political-economy. Professor Asante Molefi aptly conceptualises this decolonial direction as Afrocentricity.
Molefi’s proposition of Afrocentricity entails the dismissal of Anglo-American particularism as a universal lens from which non-Europeans should deduce their realities and experiences. Afrocentricity calls for Africa’s modalities of constitutionalism, economics and social design to be determined by Africans and not the imperialists. The key premise of Afrocentricity is identity and the repossession of our lost being. The Afrocentric call to re-collect, re-member and re-possess our being must be mutually supported by a great deal of strong political will to disconnect from neo-colonialism and disengage imperialism from our political-economy systems. Ultimately, Afrocentricity is a call for de-Westernisation of power.
The continued undermining of African knowledge systems involuntary invites the need to reclaim the organic liberating ideological powerbase of the continent. African politics and systems of knowledge generation must be aligned to rapid responsiveness to the time immemorial colonial designs of power, economics, and identity and knowledge production. Sam Moyo, Vimbai Gukwe Chivaura, Ibbo Mandaza, Charity Manyeruke, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Vongai Zvidenga Nyawo Viriri, Samukele Hadebe, Lovemore Madhuku, Rudo Gaidzanwa, Morris Vambe, Ngwabi Bhebe and other local Zimbabwean thinkers have effectively attempted to engage various national discourse subjects in questioning the asymmetrical orderings of coloniality to our politics. In some cases, their interventions have lobbied for the re-engineering of our economy to challenge the bulwark of the vestiges of Rhodesian hegemony.
Without doubt, their contributions in rethinking the uneven distribution of power between the Global North and the Global South dovetails the works of their decolonial knowledge counterparts outside our borders namely: Thandika Mkandawire Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Samir Amin, Issa G. Shivji, Valentine Y. Mudimbe, Bade Onimonde, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and many others. This committed effort by these scholars has been premised on the need to dislocate the effects of the unfinished business of imperialism as indicated by Mafeje 2011: 31–32:
“ . . . we would not talk of freedom, if there was no prior condition in which this was denied; we would not be anti-racism if we had not been its victims; we would not proclaim Africanity, if it had not been denied or degraded; and we would not insist on Afrocentrism if it had not been for Eurocentric negations . . . Of necessity, under the determinate global conditions, an African renaissance must entail a rebellion — a conscious rejection of past transgressions, a determined negation of negations.”
Mahoso: The thought and timing
At the centre of this Afrocentric epistemic resurgent role, one in Zimbabwe finds Tafataona Mahoso — a prominent media think-tank. He is a villain to proponents of the neo-liberal inclined to the regime change agenda. Many Western institutions and academics pushing for the decapitation of land reform inspired economic democratisation have no kind description of Mahoso. He is labelled the “media hangman” of Zimbabwe. His role in curbing the proliferation of neo-imperial proxy media houses during the peak of Zimbabwe’s fast-track land reform made him an ideological adversary to countless Western embassies, their MDC inclined Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and academics.
Usually, such is the fate of every academic who is opposed to the monotonous empty-shell rhetoric of human rights and democracy in Zimbabwe. Academic attempts to disband the imperialist rationality to peddled notions of “democracy” and “good governance” only breeds one’s labelling as a “regime enabler”. Based on the logic of this narrow labelling, it is acceptable for one to be a “regime-change enabler”.
These artificial binaries of thought in Zimbabwe’s polarised politics facilitated the birth of Mahoso’s “African Focus” column in the Sunday Mail. This column played a very critical role in providing alternative thought to the mainstream opposition-centred counter-revolutionary framing of the Zimbabwean “crisis”. The Mahoso pedestal to “African Focus” is very relevant at this point as African politicians think that part of our solutions reside with those global powers meddling in African politics to date — even through their illegal sanctions. Mahoso’s “African Focus” proposition champions the need to return to liberating ideas which have always been resident in the psyche of the ever-transforming, but principle-consistent African struggles. This, in many of his writings in The Patriot, Mahoso has called the “African Living Law”.
Tenets of the African Living Law
Dr Mahoso (2016) posits that the cardinal values of the armed struggle are the defining point of our Living Law:
“The Zimbabwe version of those primary defence and resistance movements is called the First Chimurenga. The most valuable legacy of that Zimbabwe-wide effort to clear the land of settlers and agents of imperialism is the demonstration of ‘African living law’ in action across the whole of Zimbabwe and in opposition to the encroaching system(s) of Roman-Dutch Law and English Common Law. The concept of living law is essential for understanding situations in which one group claims or imposes legal hegemony over another group and proceeds to codify its hegemonic law as if it were the only law that matters.”
Basing on the logic of this perspective, the main function of colonialism was to create and guarantee imperialist economic domination. As such, law — through politics conserved the territorial parameters of domination. Faithful to this position, the Lancaster Conference strengthened the constitutional illegality of the landlessness of the majority after independence. Immediately after the land reform, the legal fraternity frantically stood on the corner of the colonial capital oligopolies. To this day, we have an opposition movement obsessed with artificial human rights and democracy inclinations which disguise the veil of imperialism’s interference in contemporary Zimbabwean politics. The continued mass loyalties to the African Living Law substantiated by the rejection of MDC formations in the ballot validate the characterisation of the Chimurenga as a Living Law. To this end, Prof Mhoze Chikowero (2015) submits that the Chimurenga embodies a historical and transgenerational sensibility. Further, the Chimurenga as a Living African Law is a cross-class discourse which unrelentingly designs and redesigns Africans’ consciousness since 1896.
What has facilitated these intergenerational and interconnected emotional attachments to the African Living Law? Mahoso (2016) responds:
“Colonial dispossession cascaded to the household level. A white individual or family had the right to dispossess or rob an African individual or household and in African living law, this meant the entire bloodline was also robbed. The law against desecration also operated at all levels. The overthrow, humiliation and murder of African rulers was a form of desecration. Then there were laws against the desecration of the land, the soil, forests, rivers and holy places (shrines). There was living law against forced labour and it was applied relationally.”
Practically, the African Living Law is not hypothetically sponsored in terms of its motives, logics and prescriptions. Its existence and continued relevance are anchored on the real suffering of the people — who give legitimacy to power. It was the African Living Law which collapsed the austerities of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in post-independence Africa. The African Living Law is underpinned on the harsh economic realities of the day experienced by real people in real time. Consequently, it involuntarily mobilises the masses to resist oppression, thus the countless loss of human lives in the fight against the Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
This organic law of our spirit of resistance naturally champions equality of all, hence its post-independence resurfacing leading to the land reform. The African Living Law resists corruption and patrimonialism. It fights the individual capture of public institutions and offices; the same way it fought colonialism to the ugly trenches of history. The African Living Law demands that post-colonial politics must not in any way return the resisted imperialist hegemony through simplistic “reconciliations and compensations” policy turns. The African Living Law stands against the quest to have our economies guided by principles of the IMF and the World Bank. The African Living Law commands our economies to have our local currencies and engage in economic mutually beneficial terms with our erstwhile/current enemies (America and Europe); including those we regard as permanent friends of Africa (the East). To be continued . . .
Richard Runyararo Mahomva is a Political-Scientist with an avid interest in political theory, liberation memory and architecture of governance in Africa. He is also a creative literature aficionado. Feedback: [email protected]