If They Can, Why Can't We?
To be honest, the people of the world are now sick and tired of whining Zimbabweans. I remember a Botswana reader, writing to a newspaper in his country, stating that all Zimbabweans in Botswana should go back to their country because, whenever they get a chance to vote, they put Mugabe back in power.
Another one was a caller to CNN, commenting on Zimbabweans illegally crossing the Limpopo River into South Africa. Calling from Nigeria, his words, which are now legend in Zimbabwe were as follows: "I used to respect Zimbabweans, but I have now lost all respect for them because I can not understand how a man can run from another man and into a crocodile-infested river. Is that not the worst cowardice?"
Friends from as far afield as Britain, Sweden and Canada all ask the same question: How is it that other countries can throw off dictators but the people of Zimbabwe seem to enjoy being pitied, being felt sorry for, by the world?
The top-of-mind question today is: Do Zimbabweans have the leadership they deserve? Most people seem to think so. Cody Braithwaite at the University of California certainly thinks so. "The people of Zimbabwe and Burma are like the beggar families of India," he says. "For those who do not know, the beggar families in India prefer to beg than work. Begging is a family industry, so if a healthy baby is born into a beggar family, it is considered a liability. It does not elicit the pity of the passer-by. To turn the healthy offspring into an asset as opposed to a liability, the family maims that child in whatever way they see fit. They may disfigure it or take any other action guaranteed to attract the pity of the passer-by so that they can be given handouts. The people of Zimbabwe appear reluctant to confront and overthrow the dictators in their midst. Either they are not real dictators and their populations have simply found an excuse to migrate to wealthier countries, countries where citizens of other less high-profile countries would kill to migrate to or something is seriously wrong with the Zimbabwean psyche."
Cody goes on to disclose that on a per capita basis, Zimbabwe now ranks with Nigeria, India and China as the countries that export the most human beings to the developed countries of the world. "Soon, the major cities of the world will have Little Zimbabwes alongside their Chinatowns and Little Italys."
Where Cody has it wrong is in assuming that there is a whole organised industry in Zimbabwe that exports people to Britain, USA, South Africa, New Zealand and other English-speaking countries. But he does have a point, in my opinion, when he questions the failure of the people of Zimbabwe to dislodge the vile dictatorship of Mugabe. We Zimbabweans are very good at expecting other people to solve our leadership problem. Perhaps he even has a point in saying that we deserve the leadership of Mugabe. Do we?
All we hear is SADC, please help us, AU, please help us, Mbeki, South Africa, please help us. All talk and no action is the curse of the Zimbabwean. Yes, there are some that have acted, but the majority only hope and pray. As the saying goes, God (or the UN, or AU, or SADC) helps those who help themselves. We are very good at at supporting. And doing so blindly.
This is how we created Mugabe.
Unquestioningly, we got caught up in the euphoria of an illusory democracy. Should we follow the thinking of Cromwell and decide democracy is too good for us? Of course not. Yet by default, we speak thus.
The will of the people triumphs every time the leadership and the people face off. Even acquiescence is a will that can be expressed, as is apathy. By tolerating the intolerable, you make it tolerable. By ignoring the unusual, you make it commonplace. Vanhu veZimbabwe havachatirimuka. That is as much a tragedy as it is a potent explanation for the lack of action by our masses. What makes us more helpless than the people of the Philippines were when they overthrew Ferdinand Marcos and elevated Corazono Aquino? What makes us less human beings than the students who lay down in front of tanks in Tianamen Square in China? Are we not as human as the humans who carried out the yellow revolution of Eastern Europe, the humiliation of a Romanian Dictator?
If they can, why can't we?
You see, the removal of Mugabe from power is, by definition, a revolutionary act. Revolutions are not executed by thinkers, but by doers.