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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One thought on “Tragedy of the Commons

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