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