Tragedy of the Commons

It is the Swahili adage which says ‘when the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers’. In my view it is also when elephants make love that the grass continues to suffer. It is when politicians enter into agreements and coalitions governments across Africa that the ordinary people continue to suffer. It is the new coalition governments that are becoming the new–coups in Africa. The same coalition governments that are being entered in Africa are being formed without the consent of the people. What’s left for us? One may ask. It is when politicians jostle for positions that the ordinary people continue to be at the receiving end of political violence, hate speech and acrimony. The obtaining situation is similar if not the same across the African political plateau. The worrying scenario is the sad realization that there seem to be no solution in sight. Us as the ordinary people remain at the crossroads. But the sooner we realize that we are being taken for a ride, the better we come to our senses. The sooner we also realize that politicians are the same, the better we stand up on our own. The better we realize that ours is a Tragedy of the Commons, the sooner we re-group and mobilise and Stand on our Own, fighting for what is Right.

The better we realize that politics is only but a mere game of changing faces, the sooner we become serious about taking our destiny into our own hands.Remniscent of the so called hey days of liberation struggle, Africans came to face to face with the stark and sad reality that the emerging ‘new leaders’ in Africa were not concerned about their plight. There was nothing new in the so called ‘new leaders’. Rather, they were concerned about fattening their pockets and amassing power at all costs. With the dawn of independence they tenaciously clinged to power. They were also quick to abandon the aspirations and founding ideals of the struggle. The independence, which was gained, was merely reduced into being mere flag and anthem independence. What Walter Rodney terms independence with a ‘question mark’ (?). In most African countries the debate has centred much on comparative politics. Many at times we find ourselves stuck in the protracted debate on who is the better devil, as if there is a better devil between two devils. But is there any better devil, if a Member of Parliament resurrects after 5 years to only come with food handouts and beer to buy and canvass for our votes and support.

It is high time we stop buying our people with food handouts. We need to have a paradigm shift in our politics; we need to shift our focus from the politics of aid and patronage. In this age and day, we need to focus more on speaking the language of growth, equity, development, employment creation, sustainable value chains and innovation. It is a pity that politicians have condemned us to a generation of beggars who depend on the generosity of politicians. It also high time we move away from the politics of sloganeering and ululating. The time for fine speeches is now behind us. We do not eat slogans and propaganda. Neither do we feed our children on fine speeches. It is the tragedy of the commons, that ours is a pedagogy of the oppressed as posited by Paulo Freire.We all look everywhere for a potential liberator to emerge. Whilst looking everywhere, we forget to ask the right questions in order to find the right answers and solutions.

We look and search in futile for potential genuine liberators, and we forget that true and real liberators are none but us. We remain ensnared and shackled in the bonds of oppression. We forget that elections are just but mere rituals. All what elections do is changing the political faces. But the rules of the game do not really change. The chameleonic nature of politicians does not change either. What changes is the fact that new leaders scramble for the national cake. We support them and we forget that their kids swim in swimming pools. Ours swim in rivers. They have lanterns at night and we have stars (paraffin has become so expensive as of late).

They have lights lit in the garage, orchard, drive way and in the gallery, whilst we are just slipping through into our huts finding our way in the dark. They move in classy and expensive Range Rovers and Mercedes Benz whilst we use our feet to go to the nearby grinding mill stationed 20 km away from our homesteads. They have full course dinner, we have supper with relish without cooking oil. They wear expensive stiletto shoes, whilst we wear rubber sandals. They drink mineral water and Orange juice from 5 star hotels. The commoner drinks from the well full of cowdung.They drink expensive duty free wines, we drink our on homemade traditional beer, brewed by the elderly grandmothers who have reached menopause. As we struggle in search of the truth, we are comforted that all shall be well. In Biko’s words ‘the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed’. As they dig mountains in the Grange to build mansions we are buying plastics and card board boxes to build shacks.

As we pay them, they go and sleep and snore in parliament. But what we are constantly told is that ‘we are the least paid parliamentarians in AFRICA’. Pay them to do what? As the divide between the rich and the poor become so wide and glaring, we should be reminded of Steve Biko’s words “You are your Own Liberator”. Varombo-kuvarombo (poor to the poor) vapfumi-kuvapfumi (rich to the rich).Through all these lies were are pacified that all will be well, whilst we really know that all is not well in our House of Stone (Dzimbabwe).Some promise jobs and better lives as the election talk gathers momentum.Unless someone come to us to whisper the voice of reason, we will continue being led on a wild goose chase. No matter how many times we will change them (politicians) our fate will remain the same. They will come and go, and they will still promise us heaven on Earth. Chickens are coming home to Roost!! But ours remain a Tragegy of the Commons.

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Memoirs of a Troubled Heart

Some came holding clubs, some singing revolutionary songs. Others were clutching bows and arrows. They were advancing at the pace of a striking lightning. It was a time of night vigils (pungwes).They termed the venue the Command Centre (base). This was a venue for beating political opponents in order to force them to publicly repent. Indeed it was a moment of political madness. Every villager had to contribute USD 1 for mealie meal, as if not enough the villagers had to provide relish in the form of goats and chicken. They ate and enjoyed through song and dance. We hopelessly watched with great pain as they took turns to beat the villagers. The war veterans were sending the youth brigade euphemistically referred to as (green bombers) to fetch the so called sell-outs (vatengesi) in Shona.

They moved around in the village scouting for the sell outs. They came with hoards of innocent people whom they started beating until they could confess that they had repented. Some fainted and some sustained permanent injuries. Brother had turned against brother. Everyone now feared the knock on the door after dusk (nightfall).It was a matter of whom next? In the days of our lives, it was indeed a moment of political madness. We all wish to keep this sad chapter closed, away from the history books. So that our kids will neither read nor hear about such a sad and painful past. We all wish that this sad development will not visit us again in our entire days of existence. We all forgot Dalai Lama’s teachings that, ‘we all want happiness and not suffering’.

 Our hearts were raptured to hear that villagers were exchanging blows, fighting for political identity. We all acted as if tomorrow will never come. We were deaf and silent to the voice of reason. We forgot that the Sun would shine again. What we forgot was that at some day we would need our neighbours to dig our graves and be undertakers who would lead us to our final resting place. We forgot that one day we would stand at our neighbours’ fence asking for a packet of salt and matchsticks to lite fire in our huts.

We torched our neighbours’ granaries to ashes, forgetting that they need food to survive. We watched with great zeal and happiness as the poles and dagger crumbled to the ground. All their belongings were reduced to ashes. Their hearts were bleeding whilst we were affording to smile. We were happy seeing them fleeing their ancestral lands through conflict induced displacements. Only if we knew we were fighting for petty politics of belonging. Only if there is no politics or country to die for, we can live in harmony, peace and tranquility. Now they go on podiums to give fine speeches and make us believe it was a moment of political madness.

The time for fine speeches is now gone. Time for clapping hands and ululating for power hungry politicians is now behind us. Time for sloganeering and rhetoric is now past us. But now is the time for us to circle down under a tree and chat our destiny. The time is now for us to abandon our ways of doing politics, for it is the poverty of our politics that makes our friends to lose their ears and eyes. What we need is a political commitment to end political violence and acrimony in our once peaceful rural community. We all now need leaders who talk and preach the language of peace. Life will never be the same again. For without restorative and retributive justice our society will remain polarized and hurt.

 As much as we may try to pretend to forget and start on a clean slate, we will never go far without doing memorialization. It will take years for us to forget, heal and move ahead without any brave attempts at truth telling. But they say Forgiveness shapes the Future and not the Past. In the same words Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, reminds us that God has a Vision for Our Future. We seek solace and comfort from the biblical and Christian teachings.

Our world and our lives have become increasingly interdependent, so when our neighbour is harmed, it affects us too. Therefore we have to abandon outdated notions of “them” and “us” and think of our world much more in terms of a great “US”, a greater human family

 

 

Paying Back

There is an African adage which says “what forgets is the axe and not the (stumb/tree) that has been cut”. Nigel was quick to forget that he had pained Prim to the core and marrow of her heart. They had been in love for 3(three) solid years. All was bliss and rosy up until when Nigel abruptly decided to end their relationship. It was a time of partying ways. It was all good whilst it lasted. It was not the break up that pained Prim the most, but it was the way how they broke. Nigel had started calling Prim’s family in names. He named them ‘parasites’ who were burnt on sucking his money. A word spoken is like a stone thrown, you can’t hold it back once it’s spoken. They say harsh words do not break bones but they do break hearts.

If it was for words only, it could have been better. Nigel went on to set some hooligans on Prim citing that she was nagging him. So absurd! Yesterday they were lovers now they are enemies .Life is like a see-saw. Finally Prim had to let go. Even Nigel’s friends strongly rebuked and condoned such behavior. For in love, some meet and marry and many times some meet and break. Such is life. Nigel should have just remembered that they were not meant to be together, but with life you never know what tomorrow holds. They were not destined to be together. Giving up doesn’t always mean you are weak, sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go. Prim was indeed strong to let go.

In spite of such a treatment she tried to pretend to smile and make him think she was happy, she always tried to laugh so as to avoid people seeing her crying. She managed to let him go. In her inner self she deeply believed in the assertion that says relationships are like glass, sometimes it’s better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. But in her entire life, she knew one day she would pay back. For Nigel had hurt her deeply. Prim started to become more prayerful and started hating the male specie. She just saw every men as having the potential to hurt.

Slowly and gradually her feelings for men were dying. The hope of starting all over again was now very slim. She felt so used and worthless. In life no matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you’ll never get through it without your friends. Such amazing friends were always there for Prim. Eventually she seemed as if she had forgotten everything that had happened between her and Nigel. Nigel was now history.

Nigel’s team was playing in the World Cup Qualifiers in Greece. Prim was now a Sports Reporter with a global news agency. Her job involved a lot of travelling; it took her to various places world over. Whether you may call it coincidence or fate, they eventually met in the Aristotle hotel with Nigel her ex-boyfriend.

On the first glance, Nigel could not know whether to greet her or not. Finally, he summoned the courage as a man. “Hie Prim, how have you been”, he said stretching his hand for a handshake. As if nothing had ever happened between them Prim responded with that charming and contagious smile of hers. “Indeed, it has been long, this world is so small”, she said. Prim was a woman of expensive taste. She was wearing an expensive perfume, one could pick from its flagrance. It scented and filled the nostrils of Nigel in a few seconds. She was curvy, with tall beautiful legs, she had an appetizing chest with protruding breasts. Pedicure and manicure was all in place. She was an eye candy to say the least. They talked and laughed at length, they barely talked about everything, their new professions, family, sports etc. Prim then managed to convince Nigel to sneak from camp and have some quality time with her. They went to a nearby night club before heading for Prim’s hotel room.

All what they had were good times. They made love reminiscing their hottest days of their lost love. The next morning, the newspaper headline read TEAM CAPTAIN CAUGHT WITH PANTS DOWN. On the top of the page were Nigel’s pictures one holding the buttocks of a lady in a night club and another with a lady lying on the bed, but the lady’s face was covered. Her identity could not be recognized. Prim was nowhere to be seen. Nigel’s personality was soiled, her image had been damaged. WHO DID THIS TO HIM? It was a time of PAYING BACK. Do unto others what you expect them to do unto you!

 

 

 

 

 

When Love Kills

Roy was a very quite, punctual and handsome young man.He was more interested in his studies and in sports than in ladies. Some said Roy was that type of a child who was focused in his life. He had a self-drive, zeal and enthusiasm to realise his ultimate goal of becoming an Engineer. Engineering was a profession that he loved so dearly. Such a passion ignited his zeal to diligently concentrate with his books and not the female specie. Roy was a serious young man who brooked no nonsense. But he had another good side of him. The other version of him.  He was cool and friendly but a bit reserved. Roy could not even pay attention to the puerile giggles of the young girls at College.

Samantha had shown interest in him, but she eventually gave up the chase. So was Charlotte who also chased after Roy, but all these advances failed to lure Roy. All the potential admirers dismally failed to win his heart. Some say love is a problem when it comes later in life. This saying has some grains of truth when it comes to Roy’s love life. As months and years raced against each other Roy was starting to develop a liking for the female specie. It was one sunny afternoon that his eyes met with Miriam’s eyes. She was sitted at the opposite end of the Restaurant, she was finishing her meal at the Campus Restaurant. It was love at first sight. From the eye contact, the chemistry was made easier. The Rest is History. Roy and Miriam fell deeply in love. Roy was head over heels, he was truly drowning in the pool of love. In Miriam’s words she kept on saying good things about Roy,

 

 “The way he laughs makes me smile, and the way he talks gives me butterflies and just everything about him makes me happy… I love him

 

For real love was in the air. Things changed when Miriam started dating another guy from a sister University. It was on Sunday 27 April 2011 in the afternoon when Roy knocked on Miriam’s hostel. He was greeted by the other boyfriend who opened the door for him. Roy just pushed his way through, Gosh!! there was his Miriam half-naked lying on the bed, holding a pillow covering her face. Roy stood speechless for a minute before dashing out of the room without uttering any word. He could not stomach seeing Miriam semi- nude enjoying the comfort of another man.

 

His lifeless body was swerving sideways. His eyes were wide open, the shoe lashes were tightly tied. Miriam rushed at the scene were a swarm of other students were already gathered. Some were crying loudly, some with tears silently cascading down the contours of their faces. She was numb and she nearly froze to the ground. She broke down weeping. The police came and placed Roy’s corpse in their police van. Nothing was discovered in Roy’s pockets except for a short note addressed to Miriam-it was a note indicating why he chose to end his life in such a way. The very last line of the note read….When Love Hurts. To Live is not an Option.