Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

The Great Kalanga Nelson Mandela Lesson

15 Dec 2013 at 08:45hrs | Views

Editor, allow me to begin this short article with what we Bakalanga say on the passing of any loved one: "Nayidzedzobo dzakaMandela. Ngabayezele nedonhodzo Tate Mandela."

Indeed, a Great One has passed on. He inspired us both in his life and his death. Who wouldn't, in their right, just and fair mind not celebrate this great icon. This great Xhosa. This great South African. This Great African.

South Africa Belongs to All Who Live In It

Editor, Tata Mandela has taught us in his life and continues to teach us in his death that freedom means much more than casting away the chains of bondage. He teaches us that freedom means living in such a way that one respects and accepts others for who and what they are. He spent his life fighting against white domination and black domination. Not only was this his belief, he translated it into laws, and indeed oversaw the writing of one of the greatest monuments of human liberty today, the grand Constitution of South Africa.

One of the key lines in that constitution, borrowed from the ANC Freedom Charter is: "South Africa belongs to all who live in it." Oh, what a statement, what an ideal, what a vision! If only we in Zimbabwe could learn from that. If only we could say "Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it". But alas, for 33 years, we were told that Zimbabwe belongs to the Shona and Ndebele only.

Yet today, after a long struggle, which struggle continues, we of Bukalanga find ourselves still attacked for daring to demand the freedoms for which our Fathers fought hard and long and died for. Whilst we have in paper won a great victory in getting constitutional recognition, we still find ourselves attacked for "dividing the Ndebele nation", as if any kind of Kalanga self-assertion were automatically an attack on Ndebelehood. Whilst we still fight against Zezuru Colonialism, we find an extra burden thrown upon us, accused of being "divisive", as if unity were equal to uniformity, and diversity equal to division!

Unity in Diversity, Not Unity in Uniformity

Tata Mandela teaches us that it is possible to be proudly Xhosa and proudly South African at the same time. He teaches us that it is possible to celebrate one's Xhosaness without it being an attack on someone else's Tswanahood or Zuluness or Sothohood. Tata Mandela teaches us that it is possible for South Africans to unite without all of them having to be Xhosa like him. He teaches us that it is possible for the Xhosa, Zulu, Tsonga, Venda, Sotho, Tswana, Afrikaans, etc., to live side by side, celebrate their diversity, and still be South African at the same time.

Mr. Editor, the lessons for us of Bukalanga in particular and Zimbabwe in general is that, it is possible for us to be self-assertive without being divisive. It is possible for us to celebrate our diversity as Bakalanga, BaNambya, Vhavenda, Babirwa, BaTonga, AmaNdebele, Vakaranga, Manyika, etc without the self-assertion of another being viewed as a threat to another. Tata Mandela teaches us that the notion that unity equals being Ndebele or Shona is false, devilish, undemocratic and unfair. It is possible to be uniform and still be divided. In fact, forced uniformity at its worst is genocidal.

The Ndebele and Shona Need to Make Sacrifices

Tata Mandela teaches us that it is not enough to have Bakalanga, BaNambya, Vhavenda, BaTonga, Babarwe, Vandau, BaTshwao, etc., recognized in the Constitution. We all must take a step further to respect that new constitutional order and accept that a Kalanga has a right to speak TjiKalanga and be heard in Bulawayo or a Tonga to speak CiiTonga and be heard in Harare without being subjected to abuse and treated as if they just fell from hell.

Tata Mandela teaches us that inasmuch as the English and Afrikaans had to and still have to make painful sacrifices in adjusting to the new Constitutional order, so must the Shona and Ndebele. They need to accept that the monopoly of their languages, and by extention their identity, cannot be sustained. And when we the 'previously' marginalized groups assert ourselves, we are not being "divisive" or "hating" the Shona and Ndebele, we are demanding the same rights for which the liberation struggle was fought. If white colonial rule was wrong, what's right about Zezuru and Ndebele colonial rule? If white domination was bad, what's good about Zezuru and Ndebele domination?

Yes, I know that some Ndebele will shout at me and say that they are also oppressed by the Zezuru-Shona. But the question is: for 33 years what did they do to change the order from which, linguistically and culturally speaking, they were beneficiaries? And not only so, they have been economic beneficiaries to a certain extent. How many jobs in Teaching and the NGOs, Media and many other sectors were advertized with an additional requirement of "fluency in Shona and/or IsiNdebele"?

But all that said, the Shona and Ndebele now need to accept that Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it, not just the Shona and Ndebele. And that has to be reflected in Public Offices, ZBC-TV, in the Passport, in Taxis, and any form of official record or form of communication. And the time is now, for Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it. That's one of the greatest lessons that Tata Mandela lives us. May his soul rest in peace. Yezelani ngedothodzo Tate Mandela. Siyabulela Tata. Sithi enkosi. Hamba kahle. Tshambani zwibuyanana.

Source - Ndzimu-unami Emmanuel Moyo
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
More on: #Kalanga, #Mandela