by Courage Shumba
SOME among us would rather Independence Day passed as if it had no beneficiaries. For this group, April 18 is a day to unleash malicious rhetoric.
We must reflect truthfully and honestly without ambiguity or reckless pride on the fact that as a black nation, we had no place and no hope in Rhodesia. April 18, therefore, is a day to reflect as well for us to remember the colonial injustices and settler brutality as a historical fact visited on the black man by white settlers.
Independence is also a day when we celebrate the gallant fighters; the unity of the masses; the selflessness; wisdom and vision of the nationalist leadership to plan, protract and win a war.
We must of course reconcile our differences with our white counterparts whilst forging ahead to create maximum penetration of all areas of the economy by black Zimbabweans.
Independence is also a day to remember also and seek to understand how the peoples and tribes of Africa were subjected to such levels of injustice under the watch of a Western world that considered itself civilised, and today masquerades as the protector of the same masses.
Independence is a yearly reminder to appreciate what is myth and what is fact about who we are and where we came from. The injustice of white settlers left deep scars of inequality, and it is the duty of all Africans throughout the continent to rewrite and erase those whilst ensuring that everything is done to ensure the misplaced trust and fear of white men which led to that injustice is uprooted from our thoughts, and that such wisdom is passed from one generation to another.
Indeed, this is a day when Zimbabweans especially must celebrate the overthrow of a racist settler regime. Rhodesia was a dry and arid place full of deprivation and poverty. Those who fought against it and who came after its fall must realise that the complete destruction of Rhodesia is a national challenge that every black Zimbabwean must carry on his shoulders. Rhodesia was a complex mixture of many ugly things that had a common demon in the deprivation of the black indigenous Africans.
Rhodesia was a place where a whole economy was built on race. It was a place where access was gained on race. It was a place designed economically and mentally to perpetuate the racial order of the time by creating a compliant and willing slavery machinery that would always see white and black instead of a nation and people.
That such a system should even be visible let alone find support or sympathy in the language of property rights is where the line sinks deep into the sand between nationalism and political opportunism. Nationalism requires us to defend and protect our sovereignty and the value of our liberation. It means we will always be on a collision course with those through whom that independence and nationhood can be robbed or lost.
No self respecting people in any part of the world will give the control of their resources and exploitation of those resources without seeking to be the main winners in the deal. That would be foolish. In short, what our country sits on is the muscle through which either its nationals will starve or feed.
America or its allies cannot make Zimbabwe rich whether through benevolence, charity or outright pity. Our people do not need mighty America on their side doling our packs of beans and yellow maize. We are not Americans. What we need is a system that identifies what we as country are worth on the commodity market and assist each and every one of us in the country to be part of the production chain that produces what will fetch a handsome reward for us as a people collectively.
Already, nature has been on our side with rich soils and minerals for us to exploit and live better lives. It is our duty to exploit them fully, fighting in the process anyone who stops us from doing so. It is foolish for anyone to wish us back into the slavery and hopelessness of the colonial era. It is foolish for anyone to ask or contemplate the return of farmers because they were white.
Black Africans will and must learn through trial and error to become the farmers that a country needs without jumping ship because a white man cannot be found. What is wrong with you and me running farms, industries, countries without looking over our shoulders for the stewardship of other people because of their race?
We have through ignorance and fear of failure allowed the white race to turn the colour of their skin into a currency synonymous with knowledge and wisdom even when all we know from history is that they have routinely abused our trust and peaceful nature.
The generation which fought the liberation war did so for future generations to not only walk in the streets of our capital cities and towns without a pass but indeed to break the cycle of deprivation which is the cause of the suffering of the black people. The government can only empower people through programmes that create opportunity. That is why the land issue took priority over property rights arguments that sought to protract a legal and colonial war to defend the gains of white Rhodesian settlers.
No-one who understands the true scale of colonial injustice will stand by Rhodesians in their quest to create a so-called politically-free yet economically-enslaved version of an African who panders to the whims of white monopoly capital.
Independence is not complete until the very basis of what keeps our people alive and in charge is completely in the hands of the native population. There is no political independence unless that freedom is preceded by total and unconditional economic independence: in our case the surrender of colonial corporate domination to new black indigenous entrepreneurs.
Political equality is what comes as the benefit of a working independent economic order not the reverse. Economic equality creates justice, peace, and rule of law, fair elections, democracy and wealth for all.
A new constitution will guarantee the respect of the person through various freedoms and rights which in the absence of economic independence are meaningless and trivial, concerned only with changing government figures.
The law is not against white Zimbabweans having 100% ownership. It is a law that targets foreign corporations and rightly so. Zimbabwe should lead the world refusing to be a dumping site for dangerous toxic goods or a hunting ground for cheap labour. We must stand up to exploitation and never give in.
Clearly, there is no one blind to the need for economic cooperation with the wider world but we must seek to do this from a position of strength and control not weakness and desperation. We must be able to sell barley, wheat, maize and pumpkins but surely the land on which these crops grow must remain ours and for our children to use. We cannot allow some foreign people to dispossess us of our land and hold it for their kith and kin in Britain, whilst our people languish in poverty and ignorance.
We are the masters of what lies beneath our beautiful country and indeed it is right that the theme of our 32nd Independence celebrations has everything to do with the economic liberation of the black majority. But we must do more within our borders, inside our households, inside our schools to create equal opportunity, to create employment, good health delivery, and infrastructure for the independence we celebrate to pay social dividends.
If we fail to prove beyond our own plush and comfortable lives the value of the liberation sacrifice, questions will be asked about the meaning of that struggle and the allegiance of the national leadership to the goals of that project.
The Independence of our people cannot be a pie in the sky, it has to be a deliverable tangible reality that can be eaten and lived.
Economic liberation was the very basis of the Chimurenga wars from the beginning to end. That is the struggle which all of us must understand and defend.
The duty of the new generation of nationalists is to peacefully pursue the independence and sovereignty of a new democratic Zimbabwe and to pass that wisdom on as we have inherited it. It is this argument we must win and work to achieve a country that is democratic but above all sovereign and free for the good of its very own people.
Courage Shumba is the executive director of the League for the Empowerment of African People