We Need a Reset Button- Tendai Biti

by Tendai Biti

Wanachi , an avid discussant of these chronicles calling himself Yancer Bell, got me laughing this morning.

He made the point that if Africa was a gadget then he would activate the reset button so that Africa would start from all over.

Sadly this is a true generational indictment of five decades of waste, in respect of which we have seen predation, and arbitrage codified and institutionalized on our continent.

It is hard to believe that many African countries at their Independence had economies that were equal to if not stronger than many countries in South East Asia, South Korea included.

That Ghana for instance had more than four hundred million pounds in reserve, the equivalent of at least $2 billion at today s exchange rates.

That Zimbabwe for instance had in per capita terms the third largest manufacturing sector in the world at independence.

Certainly the landscape of doom, gloom and the deficit status quo reflects the one distinctive deficit that Africa had, and in this case, did not have.

That is visionary leadership with the craft competence, the love and the patriotism to carry out genuine change on the continent necessary to effect the real transformation that Africa needed.

Is it not ironic that the Nationalist, has in the name of nationalism done so much unpatriotic harm on the continent.

Nothing is more unpatriotic than the neo-colonial and neoliberal looting and patronage that has continued and is continuing unabated on the continent to date.

Africa thus found itself with leadership kwashiorkor, without its own, Mohathir, Lee Kuan Yew or Chairman Deng Xiaoping.

Speaking of China very few will understand that as recent as 1980 China’s micro economic indicators were worse than Zimbabwe’s and that three quarters of its huge population lived below the poverty datum line.

However under the leadership of Chairman Deng ,in less than forty years it has now become the world’s second largest economy.

Zimbabwe more than any other country is reflective and proof of a country that has suffered at the hands of crippled selfish leadership ,that has never had vision ,direction and love to carry and transport this country to a supersonic level of development .

Yet our potential was and is so huge.

Our education, our climate and our natural endowment make this country a natural cheetah but we have been forced to crawl and scrounge like the crocodile we have become, lazy, cunning and predatory.

In the post-election period, where evidence of short memory and quick surrender to Zanu Pf seduction and charm is fashionable, it is easy to forget.

That this is a country mired in reckless poverty, with some of the world’s most desperate human indicators, and with a crippled microeconomic status quo.

It is to forget that this is a country that has functioned on violence and exclusion, a country with more than a quarter of its citizens out of the same.

It easy to, forget that this is a country where democracy has been demoted from vogue to the morgue.

A country which, thirty three years after independence, has only one television station and no independent radio stations.

Don’t tell me about those two so called independent radio stations.

We can talk about the structural constrains brought by colonialism, but I refuse to buy these arguments thirty three years after independence.

Bad selfish leadership has placed us where we are .A little arrogant country known for stagnation and regression.

We have been held captive by this leadership. The collective creativity and energy of this nation has been sucked and liquidated by this group of man.

As result politics and indeed ugly politics that dominate the entire discourse of the nation. It does not matter whether it’s in churches, schools, buses or sports arenas.

Everything you touch, the air you breathe is so polluted by ugly politics.

You cannot run away from same. It is disempowering corrosive and debilitating.

Years ago the Church in Zimbabwe commissioned a paper called, the Zimbabwe we want.

That paper spoke on the fundamentals of economic and political revival of our country.

I suspect that this is one country that needs a true Renaissance. A genuine moral, spiritual and intellectual upliftment of a nation that has been battered-as I said previously- by mediocrity, arrogance, ignorance, indifference, entitlement and impunity.

These are things we live with every day, and unfortunately, in dominated social formations such ours, we the victims also struggle to reproduce asymmetrically the crimes of those oppressing us.

Of the above vices one that kills me, is the suffocating culture of mediocrity and its attendant twin, indifference.

Whether it is at a saloon, or a line for passports ,or our in famous road blocks, people are lackadaisical ,indifferent and unaccountable.

Someone serving the public will be speaking on three mobile phones, if you confront her, she will shout at you or call the next customer.

The quality of work is shoddy and there is no pride in one’s workmanship.

There is no respect, no Ubuntu .Long gone are the days where to serve was an honour, and to work was to pray. To serve was a privilege.

As they say, the country has gone to the dogs.

Where the hardware of the State collapses so too the software.

A long time ago those governing us stopped caring. When they so stopped, Wananchi noticed. Wananchi stopped caring too.

That in essence is the breakdown of the social contract.

The breakdown of that invisible moral glue that keeps a nation together.

Sadly the story of Zimbabwe is largely the same story of Africa but with different levels and shades of the narrative.

My friends call it the Zanufication of the African Continent.

So if this is what you Yancer Bell you are referring too, then I concur.

.Let us press the Reset button, so that factory settings can be restored.

But there is another Africa I know, that is beautiful and full hope.

It is the Africa of a hard working Wananchi, struggling honestly to eke a clean living for its children.

The Africa of my poor widowed mother, and mother in law, honest women with nothing but the welfare of their children at heart.

It is the Africa of the Kiberas, of this world, the Mandebvus of this world where poor souls do not question God for their poor fate but get on with it quietly and efficiently.

It is the Africa ,of the Malian Griots, that yell through the vocal cords of a Baba Maal, or Ishmael Lo .

It is the Africa of Maria Mutola,Patrice Lumumba.Koffi Olomide ,of Bantu Biko of Chitepo ,Castor Semenya ,and the great Roger Milla.

The Africa of Pepetela, Soyinka, Achebe, Dangarembgwa, Gapah, Vera , Ngugi and others.

That Africa of desserts that whisper poetry and giant national parks like the Serengeti that house creatures that are yet to be named and mysterious shores like Mombasa Pemba or Swakopmund whose deep secrets seduce you to their sandy beaches.

That is the Africa that many I know will seek to reclaim from the post independent mafia that has hijacked the same.

That is the simple mission in life.

In difficult times, such as the present, sometimes it is hard to understand the Central Strategic objective of a generation.

More so when a mind-set was geared for a sprint and had no mental preparation of the realty that change, real change is not a sprint.

So cannibalism becomes the order of the day to the oblivion of the real cause. Opportunism, rumour and malice become malignant, but Rome continues to burn .

It is October after all. The season of slime.

This is a simple generational obligation.

Returning Africa to its true owners, the Wananchi, rebuilding the same and pushing it forward.

That is the least we can do.

It is a s simple as that.


One thought on “We Need a Reset Button- Tendai Biti

  1. Pingback: We Need a Reset Button- Tendai Biti | Sustainability and the commons

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