Wednesday, September 11, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Zimbabwe: The revolution eats its children
19/08/2013 00:00:00
by Lenox Mhlanga

PEOPLE like me tend to wear our political sentiments on our sleeves so to speak. It shouldn’t surprise anyone since we are the product of an education system that honed our skills in having a critical eye on everything around us.

At the University of Zimbabwe, in the mid 80’s, we used to chant the slogan forward ever, backward never! We were textbook revolutionaries, heavily schooled in Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara, certainly not Mao. It did not take long for us to realise that that the ‘revolution,’ had indeed lost its way.

The student demos of that time were against corruption and conspicuous consumption. We felt we had a duty to speak for our parents in Tsholotsho, Muzarabani, Gokwe, Matshetsheni, Dema, Gutu, Marange and many other places. Parents who had sold bags of maize, groundnuts and cotton to send us to university. We had to speak out for they could not see the avarice that was unfolding in the city.

The people they had elected were doing them a great disservice, abusing the taxes by lining their pockets and those of their cronies. We were fed up by what we saw. Mansions springing up in the elite suburbs just a stone’s throw away from campus, and shiny Mercedes Benz that zipped past us while we walked to and from college in the blistering sun.

And yet throughout the countryside our parents and relatives wallowed in poverty and they still do to this day. Made to feed on empty political slogans each time an election loomed on the horizon yet back to business unusual when the promises and threats had died down. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Initially the student demos were pro-government. We still had faith in the system, that it would somehow correct itself. But that soon became a pipe dream as impunity reigned supreme. The mantra of a one-party state rang louder and soon it became apparent that the revolution was in danger of regression.

Student politics are by nature a function of the prevailing environment. Students, by their nature verbose in discourse and energetic in deeds. Some of us, with the gift of the poison pen took our struggle to the manuscripts. Focus Magazine became a platform from where in-depth analysis and the somewhat acidic censure of the system took root.

It was no wonder it was proscribed by the university authorities, not once but several times. Its financial sources were blocked and distribution channels chocked. Yes, the writings of Tinoziva Bere, Moetsabi Titus Moetsabi, Laxton Tendai Biti, Lawrence Tshuma, Trevor Ncube, Tawana Kupe, and the cartoons of Lenox Mhlanga among others had become a threat to the establishment.

I was reduced to pasting my caricatures on the door of my room in New Complex One. A name more appropriate for a factory than an academic residence. In fact they were, factories that unwittingly manufactured dissent. Student activism had taken a turn for the worst. The state panicked, and unleashed its machinery onto campus.

The entry of the riot police onto what we considered to be the hallowed ground of academic freedom was a signal that intolerance would be the default setting of the system from then on. The taunts the paramilitary endured about their level of education was just a contract of the frustrations that had been pent up over a long time.

The cops took it personally and they became willing tools of the kind of brutality that has become so synonymous with anything resembling crowd control. The revolution was eating its own children.

That a political movement would emerge from this was just a matter of time. Generations of student leaders had been put through the paces on campus, sharpening skills of debate, speech, negotiation and evading tear gas and rubber truncheons. The bitterness was palpable and the bravery sometimes bordered on suicidal.

There was bound to be a spill-over. The student leaders graduated and entered society at large. Still full of pent up emotions and lofty ideals. Some became unemployable because of their ‘dangerous and poisonous’ ideals. I was labelled rebellious at my first port of employment and promptly transferred to a frustratingly boring backwater. I am sure there are many who suffered the same fate.

It only served to add fuel to the fire burning inside us. The result was more dissent in various forms, some of which resulted the foundation of present day opposition politics. It was an outlet and an attempt at a lasting solution to a revolution that had convoluted its founding ideals. We have indeed come a long way, and the journey to a brighter future seems longer still.

COMMENTS

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hatidi ngochani

we just want sanctions gone!!!! what can students do... these so called leaders have not only intiated sanction on Zimbabwe but cannot understand that these sanction are hurting the ordinary Zimbabwean massively. So get this right now and forevermore history will not be kind to these individuals who have helped racists give a reason to diminish, discredit and discriminate against Zimbawe.. You and your fellows are sad individuals. You have no diea that its you who have destroyed our country the UZ mafia!
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Udzai Munhumumwe

Lennox...you dont speak for anyone else but yourself. The people in Zimbabwe, Rural and Urban, speak for themself.
The URBAN have a disproportionately loud voice in the country and we will change that with more community radio stations and papers...this is the death of pirate radio stations and pirate foreign papers.
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hlekani

Wena Lennox stop moaning about nothing - I like your articles about ukuwosa/braiing inyama better.
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ehe-ehe

This guy was fighting for sadza when he was a UZ. These guys failed to see the reason behind the cuts in non essentials so they were fighting for more sadza on plate thinking that they were in a revolution. Lenox the idea was to accommodate more students hence the cuts which infuriated you idiot. The education sector was already taking the biggest chunk of the state budget against a tenfold increase of fresh students seeking university education. Fuseke vhuka uyisiphukuphuku.
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Zhiii

I ZANU yakungena empetshweni wena mpumputhe. Vuka, wolala kuzekube nini?
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ELMAA_SABUDO

African economic models independent Western influence still lacking conviction apart from political campaigns rhetoric ,initiated mostly by puppet leaders .The ideology of self empowering the citizens have been prevented by brute force and appalling propaganda mainly the markets .Nigeria ,Ghana and SA are very big economics and big importers of everything .Life is unbearable for an average citizen because either the government is still myopic to the fact that complementing existing system installed during colonialism is very very harmful .

An average African citizen is now apathetic and seeking alternatives from the same people who oppressed ancestors ,thousands perished trying to reach the promised land which is never welcoming but wants to exploit .The continent is fragmented with sign posts of personal vendettas ,brother against brother .To the extent the black man doesn't know what his culture is nor identity .Seeking refuge in others way of expression and shameful to claim his .

Amid this chaos Capitalism thrives and beneficiaries developing with descendants inheriting spoils of witty forefathers.
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shungu

If you engage in worthless revolutions like the one you allude, which were ridden in failures to make any significant changes to the systems you are destined to fall in the trenches like your predecessors. Read your books just like all other placid students. Everywhere students struggle, hear in the uk, over the period when people are students , they live from hand to mouth. So do not be misguided that in Zimbabwe, it should be well and all roses. Those high profile business and politics persons educate their children out of Zimbabwe to avoid exposing themselves. Its simply you go without and their children are fat cows. Besides, if they ask you to burn down the country you will not participate, because you know then that they are corrupt. Therefore they attempt to hide their ill ways. However, they continue to turn up for you fools, the likes of solomon madzore, because you easy foolish preys. For the cleverdicks, Morgan cant fool them. If he say take a bullet for me, they say go ask your son to take it like i do for my dad.

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