The Sunday News
Richard Runyararo Mahomva
The first instalment of this series attracted a wide range of views from my close intellectual circle. First to contest the article was Taona Denhere — a Human Rights Lawyer and a PhD candidate at the University of Birmingham.
Without any solid basis to his counter-attack he says, ‘‘Mahoso is an antiquated one dimensional, tunnelled vision and blinkered academic. I don’t rank him that highly. Besides being a weekly columnist his resume is very lightweight in terms of published academic texts and materials.’’ To my surprise, a very close friend and a stout ideological opponent since my undergrad days, Mlondolozi Ndlovu responded:
“As a media practitioner interested in media communication theory, I used to undermine Mahoso but not when I engaged with his work via Dr Lyton Ncube (Our former lecturer at MSU) on the significance of the African Dare/Idale as a discursive public sphere I realised he is a philosopher. Debates on communication media and democracy including in Africa are largely anchored in the western Habermasian public sphere concept. Ncube argues that studies employing indigenous African communication platforms and symbols are scarce, prompting Tafataona Mahoso to argue that while Africans have a philosophy, we have become ‘illiterate’ such that we cannot read our constructions and symbols.”
Ndlovu’s submission reflects the extent to which Mahaso is just more than a dogmatic post-colonial thinker. From this perspective, Mahoso epitomises the organic foothold of resilient African epistemology. The concept of the African Living Law extensively explored by Mahoso in theorising Zimbabwean politics articulates how the reading of African politics and the personality of our societies should be sponsored by standpoints which relate with the philosophies of our rich cultural heritage(s), aspirations and desired collective desired destinies of our people. Outside that, the classroom in Africa and the political discursive space will remain irrelevant to the desires of the poor. To this end Ndlovu further submits:
“Mahoso broadens the participatory communication practices and democratic principles by engaging pre-colonial Zimbabwe communication and solidarity relational philosophies of Dariro and Dare largely located in traditional Shona societies. The philosophical democratic dimensions of these platforms are discussed in relation to Habermas’ public sphere theory. His work goes beyond the western thought generally regarding the non-West as a place of antiquarian traditions and unprocessed data and says pre-colonial indigenous African communication systems were characterised by democratic participation, agency and a public sphere that was more open than the Harbemasian public sphere as we know it.”
From this vantage point, the African Living Law as pitched by Mahoso is empirically established on an unwritten code of ethics that govern the interconnectedness of the values of a people. This blind interconnectedness of society — its values and aspirations is the root of all desired outcomes of what good governance means. This is because “Real people in Real-Time” experience real political-economy situations which determine their resolve to seek redemptive political choices. Such choices are driven by the instinct of lived struggles, problems, shortages, marginalities, disadvantaged positions and dreams to transform the fate of their positionality imposed on them by policies distanced from their experiences.
Likewise, the African Living Law inspired by the perennial principles of national liberation, national sovereignty and the national economy creates an organic social emotive connectedness transcending the barriers of partisan chasms. The people’s lack or plenty knows no political party and their love for the nation knows no party slogan. However, in the face of suffering and some in the quest for self-aggrandisement will resort to corruption and looting. In the process, this culture of selfishness breeds poverty and public angers. Politicians will always seize this reality to continue fuelling the circumstances which keep the majority in poverty to lobby supports for their self-serving agendas. This is the dilemma of Africa and the world at large. The world has no place for the poor. The superpowers of the world continue pushing for the impoverishment of those they have oppressed since time immemorial.
Therefore, the African Living Law becomes the fundamental and guiding template to drive pro-national emotions of poor nations of the world and the oppressed. It is at the heart of the pro-national emotions from where the “Zvavanhu” philosophy resides. To those who recall Dr Mahoso, Professor Isheunesu Mupepereki and the Late Dr Vimbai Gukwe Chivaura were panelists of the popular Zvavanhu current-affairs show which featured on ZTV.
The aim of the show (in those politically turbulent days) aimed at radically lobbying public support for the land reform programme which was largely disparaged by the West and its local proxies. The major lesson from all the broadcast episodes of the Zvavanhu show was that beyond the modern institutions of law we borrowed from colonialism, Africans had their templates of socio-economic governance. Perhaps, today we need to revisit such echoes of reason at a time imperialists are continuously occupied in sponsoring ideas which undermine the liberation agenda.
In the temptation to be embraced by institutions of global capital, Africa and Zimbabwe, in particular, must be reminded that Western Europe and North America strive to endlessly dominate Africa. At this point than never before, African governments must not be engrossed in policies which legitimise neo-liberal tyranny. At this point than never before, we need to reconstruct the idea of democracy to speak to our historically relevant terms of discrediting the West as the sole centre of political morality from which we only take notes from without questioning anything.
The brutal killing of George Floyd is an open book for all to see that Africa and Africans continue to be victims of global designs of violence. The sanctions, biological warfare, decapitating of African economies among other terms of modern global racism should redirect a pan-African wave to respond to these many forms of imperialist violence. Post-colonial state foreign policies must collectively reject the subordinate status to the West years after the attainment of political independence. Based on the timeless and Afro-experiential values of democracy and the obvious sacrosanctity of human life, Floyd’s murder substantiates the continued devaluing of Blackness at the behest of a litany of neo-colonial machinery. The inconsistent veneer of imperialist prescriptive democracy has only proved to be a custodian of racially anchored inequality all over the world. Iran, Venezuela, Libya, Cuba and many other imperialist resistant counterparts of Zimbabwe are witnesses of this reality.
The questionable diplomacy of the American Embassy in Harare is one phenomenal proof the neo-colonialism would use a Black Face to denigrate the willpower of a free people, their sovereignty and their centuries of unquenched thirsts to be free. Today’s Uncle Toms are just but a substantial reminder that the Black race suffers multidimensional ontological defeat and urgently needs to decolonise and find its lost-self.
The unchecked perpetuation of racism by White police in America and the US Ambassadors guarding the imperialist garrison of power all across independent nations symbolise the resurgence of the abhorred traditions of slavery and imperialism. Last week, we saw the simplistic and lazy labelling of Zimbabwe as an enemy of the US. This is laughable especially coming from a global superpower which has been funding opposition political protests in countries which have refused to submit to centuries of imperialist molestation.
Over the years, the USA has directed several instruments of adversity to Zimbabwe such as the illegal economic sanctions. Therefore, one wonders if it is sensible for a state which has sponsored sectoral interests aimed at regime change to have the moral locus to refer to Zimbabwe as an “adversary”. Instead, Zimbabwe has been diligently committed to foreign engagement and re-engagement since 2017. But then the same gesture is hit with egg in the face like this.
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]