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This and that with Mal'phosa - All Patriots, stand up!

29 Feb 2016 at 06:58hrs | Views
What a game yesterday between two giants of football, Chicken Inn and Sundowns! It kept every lover of the game on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The attacking flair, the aggression, the organization and co-ordination of both teams was exceptional. I guess this was one of the best games in the history of the preliminary stages of the champion's league and, needless to say both teams showed they were there by merit. My loyalties were divided and my patriotism brought to question. Having stayed in South Africa for a decade, I have shifted loyalties slightly because my everyday activities are all here.

I support Sundowns locally and Highlanders back home – and of course, Zapu. Many serious Highlanders supporters will support only Highlanders at home – no other team. They will sympathize with any other local team if that particular team is playing against bitter adversaries, Dynamos or Zimbabwe Saints during their heyday. Highlanders supporters, like any other devoted supporters of soccer team's word-wide, will even support any foreign team come to play against their archrivals, just like the supporters of Dynamos will support any outside team come to play against Highlanders or Caps United. That is the nature of soccer supporters. I have seen Pirates fans here support TP Mazembe when they play against Kaizer, and vice-versa. This does not make both sets of fans less patriotic than the rest of the neutral citizens. Many fans would rather see a foreign team advance to the next stage of a competition at the expense of their ‘hated' countrymen.

Of course, many will discourage this. We must unite in support of this or that team because they represent our country. I must confess I have failed this test many times. If I declare my hatred for something the hatred is always vehement, consistent and genuine. This is why I was in Sundown's corner yesterday. But, if Sundowns had been playing against Highlanders, they would have been one supporter short. Or, politically, if it was a vote between Zapu and the ANC, ANC would have been a vote less. If it had been the ANC versus the ruling party back home, I wouldn't even think twice about where to place my vote.

But all the patriots came out in their numbers, waving national flags of many sizes, singing revolutionary songs and dancing vigorously in support of Chicken Inn. I can bet it was the first time most of them were hearing about this team but ‘patriotism' chose sides for them. Nevertheless, the view was just spectacular and the mood festival. The teams did not disappoint; they played a game from the top shelf, and Chicken Inn were run out of town at the last minute. My friend, clad in a shirt with the Zim President's head, kept waving this large flag right in my face, obstructing my view of the game. He said he was encouraging me to be patriotic. "Waving that rag in front of me will only strengthen my resolve. It is so annoying!" He was overly excited, like he was high on some illegal lethal stuff.

"So, elections are coming," he declares irrelevantly. "I am going back home to vote. I love my country and my leaders."

"Is this about country, its leaders or both? Is that your definition of patriotism?" He is not sure now.

To help him, I quote Mark Twain, "Patriotism is loyalty to country always and loyalty to government, when it deserves it." That is why I am in foreign land. I love my country enough to hate it for what it has become!" I remind him further that the country already has so many in the military who have taken the pledge to defend it with their lives. They have pledged their willingness to kill or be killed for trivial reasons, as Bertrand Russell would put it. That is patritiotism. These are the uniformed ladies and gentlemen who stand at attention, place their heavy hands over their dead hearts and sing the national anthem all the time gazing at the flag while it is being hoisted up to signal the start of their day. And there are so many well fed politician's too, sloganeering their patriotism, forcing it down the throats of mostly clueless, petrified, whitewashed citizens whose only desire is for peace and bread, and nothing about personal sacrifice for one's country. Love for one's country should not be forced upon citizens; this only amplifies resistance. Of course, I wouldn't sell my country out even for a million but that doesn't make me a patriot, just as singing the national anthem deliriously will earn me a patriotism certificate. We all love our country, in our own different ways, and would love to show this in our own different ways.

But then in Africa, terms and conditions are defined by the rulers and we, simple mortals must keep our various opinions to ourselves. And questions will always be asked as to who is more patriotic, the present leader or the one that is in opposition and is fighting for change? Forcing people to attend rallies and making them sing your praises and denouncing your real and perceived political enemies does not make you a patriot just like going to church every day and shouting the loudest ‘Amen!' does not make you a Christian. And, even amongst the multitudes, some of whom you will kill or pummel into loving the country, there are real patriots who would love the country more and better than you and your pot-bellied and arrogant comrades combined.

In Africa, patriotism is loyalty and unfailing allegiance to the rulers. If one does not love the rulers, it simply translates to being unpatriotic, and therefore a sellout or ‘agent'. They forget what Edward Abbey says about patriotism being preparedness to defend one's country against its government. And Theodore Roosevelt said patriotism is to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any public official- - - it is patriotic to support him in so far as he efficiently serves the country. And real patriots will tell their country when it is behaving foolishly, viciously or dishonorably. Therefore, the notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and nonsensical; the radical is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. Mencken says the radical is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.

 And Samuel Johnson will tell you simply that patriotism is the last refuge for a scoundrel! Many African disputes, sponsored by scoundrel presidents, are founded on this myth, created and maintained through falsehoods and intimidation. They want the masses to believe the country is under siege from enemies within, sponsored by enemies from outside. They peddle the lie that anyone opposed to them are not patriotic. For instance, are all those millions opposed to Khuluzinza in Bujumbura unpatriotic, and how so? Is it right, then, to kill our countrymen to force the swallow our own view and understanding of ‘patriotism'? Remember, there is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people, says Howard Zinn.

Most of those against the ruler see the country as no longer moving forward and want to inject new ideas to stimulate growth and development, thus improving the livelihood of the citizens. They might even have the same goals with the government of the day but differ on how to achieve them. Can we therefore say that Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa or Joice Mujuru is not a patriot because they have dissociated themselves from the government of the day because of its commissions and omissions? Are we qualified to label them sellouts because their road to peace and prosperity and freedom takes a turn left or right, north or west? Look at Mozambique now, or Somalia, or DRC. How many lives are lost daily under the pretense and guise of ‘patriotism'?

And as a patriot, what aspects of my country should I love? Everything? Including the conceited, vain, aspiring, stubborn, ruthless men and women who possess the highest seats in government? And, my friend, see what this ‘patriotism' superstition has done to you; it has robbed you of your dignity and respect, and made you arrogant and conceited!  

Finally, here is another beautiful quote from Mark Twain; ‘You see my kind of loyalty was loyalty to one's country, not to its institutions or its office holders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death. To be loyal to rags, to shout for rags, to worship rags, to die for rags that is loyalty to unreason - - -."

Ngiyabonga mina!

Source - Clerk Ndlovu
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