The Sunday Mail
Lovemore Ranga Mataire
I have always been infatuated by Zimbabwe. No place has besotted my heart so much like this teapot-shaped land, which had Cecil Rhodes so awestruck that he willed to be interred at the apex of the sacred Matopo hills.
Sadly, his wish was granted. Today, the British imperial agent of dubious sexual orientation lie buried at one of Zimbabwe’s most revered places – the Matopo hills that has within its vicinity, the Njelele Shrine. Located about 100 km south of Bulawayo and often referred to as Mabwedziva or Matonjeni, Njelele is a rainmaking shrine on the south western fringes of Matopo National Park in the Khumalo communal area.
Njelele dates back to the time when the Mbire ethnic group migrated southwards from Lake Tanganyika and eventually settled at Great Zimbabwe.
Oral tradition has it that the Njelele shrine was first established at Great Zimbabwe before the Rozvi administrative power shifted from Great Zimbabwe to Matopo Hills.
Zimbabwe is a special place with special people. Sadly, familiarity breeds complacency. Positioned at the centre of southern Africa, Zimbabwe is the heart beat of Africa south of the Sahara.
This is not hyperbole. I am not playing cheap patriotic capers. No. This place we call Zimbabwe is no ordinary place. If only its people knew how endowed this country is; socially, spiritually and with so much economic potential.
It is in Zimbabwe where we have the Great Zimbabwe monument, an indefatigable record of an ancient civilisation whose ingenuity has vexed generations of scientists and historians.
This place is a national treasure. The Great Zimbabwe bears our umbilical cord as nation.
An acropolis of Africa, the Great Zimbabwe was the citadel of civilisation and a vibrant trade centre that connected the country with the rest of Africa and the world. It is a unique artistic achievement that has struck the imagination of African and European travellers since the Middle-Ages. The Great Zimbabwe bears testimony of a once magnificent city, rich in historical significance, architectural wonders and unresolved mysteries.
Rhodes, Ian Smith and earlier Europeans tried but failed to distort the history of the Great Zimbabwe.
Besides the Great Zimbabwe, the country is endowed with plenty of natural wonders. The misnamed Victoria Falls quickly comes to mind. Why have we not intrinsically mediated on why the Mosi-oa-Tunya is colonially called Queen Victoria Falls whose best view is on our side of the Zambezi?
These are not rhetorical questions. These are genuine questions that must inform present and future generations about the special place that Zimbabwe occupies in the universe. Why are we not talking about this magnificent God-given phenomenon instead of being obsessed by this “jecha” crap? And what about the Ngoma-Lungundu? The Ark of the Covenant. Many doubt, but scientific examination has all proven beyond doubt that the Ngoma-Lungundu artefact is one of the oldest artefact in the world and it’s here in Zimbabwe. In 2010, the Ngoma-Lungundu was displayed at the National Museum and very few took interest, but the British and other European nations did. Why do we step-fault our own worth? Said to have been built more than 700 years ago from the remains of the original Ark, the Ngoma Lungundu belongs to the Lemba people, with African Jewish ancestry. The Ngoma Lungundu was used to store Moses’ 10 Commandments dictated to him on Mount Sinai. For decades, the ancient vessel was thought to be lost, until it was found in a storeroom in Harare some years ago. The artefact is believed to be the oldest wooden object ever found in sub-Saharan Africa.
So why are we not talking about these beautiful stories instead of being obsessed with the nonsensical “jecha” mantra? Shouldn’t we resist kowtowing to a certain opposition leader who is attempting to flatten the poetry of Zimbabwe and besmirch our founding ideals of freedom, peace, sovereignty and our exaltation of the liberation struggle?
Should those in opposition not resist the temptation of falling prey to an unstable, stubbornly uninformed and an authoritarian demagogue whose only claim to fame is being youthful?
Things that once belonged to the periphery of the main discourse are creeping back to the centre; glaring misogyny, intolerance, and childlike histrionics and a shocking amenability to direct foreign intrusion. Isn’t time as a nation we resist the temptation of being stuck in a bygone past characterised by a debilitating perpetual election mood? Isn’t it time that we resist the slenderest extension in the precincts of what is right?
I think now is the time to speak up and to wear as an emblem of honour the excoriation of bigots. I think now is the time to speak up and wear as an emblem of honour the excoriation of bigots.
I am forced to agree with the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie when she says that; “Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and sceptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.” I think as the Fourth Estate we need refocus on issues that really matter.
Why are we not talking about the dedicated tobacco farmers who are now producing a record crop, the horticulture farmers who are once again exporting our fruits and roses to European shelves; the manufacturers who are defying the odds to create products and jobs; the men and women leading our roads and dams infrastructure renaissance?
These are the stories we wish to tell.
Zimbabwe is irreplaceable. It is our country together. If we fall, we fall together. If we prosper, we prosper together. This “jecha” thing is as much an affront to our aspirations as it is retrogressive. Now is the time to resist a certain dark populism that only scapegoats- a dark populism based on mere bluster.
We need to counter the lies with facts and proclaim greater truths of our equal humanity, of decency and compassion. We need as a nation to cherish every precious ideal that gave us our freedom and independence.
We must always challenge the cropping up of ugly ideas that seek to present our nation as being at odds with itself. We need to resist the temptation of turning ugly ideas into the norm. It surely does not have to be like this.