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Gukurahundi: The Past Speaking to the Present - From the binoculars of a stranger.

23 Oct 2016 at 12:54hrs | Views
It was the famous British historian, E.H. Carr, who defines history as ‘a continuous interaction between the historian and his facts, an ending dialogue between the present and the past'. Therefore, to understand the present, we need to go back to the past so as to set the ball rolling as much as discussion between the two is concerned.
Gukurahundi, a Shona word, which literally refers to ‘a rain that washes away the chaff of the dry season' was a term used from 1983-1987 by the members of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) with Robert Mugabe as its linchpin. Born in 1924, Mugabe was from a poor background. His Malawian father was a carpenter. However, Mugabe was privileged to have been educated a position, which brought him into prominence in the 1980s though he was initially not part of the struggle. Probably, his critique of the British colonial government brought him to the limelight. Therefore, as soon as the country attained its independence, he quickly seized that opportunity by grabbing the mantle of leadership.
To further consolidate his seat, he saw it necessary the creation of the Gukurahundiprogramme aimed at eliminating the Ndebele people, mainly, for political reasons. The Shona largely believe that Gukurahndi was no more than a revenge based on what was being done to them by the Ndebeles under the leadership of Mzilikazi, Shaka Zulu's general, who broke away from his orders and created an entity for himself in the present day Zimbabwe in the 19th century. According to the Shonas, the Ndebele were settlers, who raided them throughout the 19th century and for that, killing them in the 1980s was justifiable. However, historical facts proved this argument wrong. To talk about revenging what was being carried out in the 19th century if it happens at all in the 20th century is nothing, but barbarism and the abuse of history, which serves as a big blow to the rule of law and the security of life in one's own country.
Instead of giving Gukurahundi a tribal inclination, the outside world should know that it was a political adventure to eliminate the Ndebeles who are revolutionary in outlook and could put a stoppage to Mugabe's quest for political supremacy and like minds right from the inception. It should be noted that Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) was the opposition party mostly populated by the Ndebeles and its members too, were hunted by Mugabe throughout the country.
To facilitate the genocide of the Ndebeles, the Fifth Brigade, a well -trained Zimbawean army in North Korea, was used by Mugabe as war machine. According to historical records, over 20,000 Ndebeles were massacred. Genocide can be defined as any attempt made to eliminate a large group of people for political, social, or economic reasons. This is also agreed upon by Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. To this angle, Gukurahundi was a genocide crime buried beneath the dust of history, which seems to have resurrected and taken a centre table in this century in form of the Zimbabwean revolution threatening Mugabe's seat.
People at home and abroad have been complaining that Mugabe has stayed for too long in power though very few of them knew why the man remains permanently attached to political power even at the detriment of the citizens. It is important to know that the two main contributing factors were the Gukurahundi genocide and the perpetuation of corruption in the country. Mugabe knows that whenever he is not in power, he would be called upon to account for his actions.
The population of Zimbabwe is approximately said to be 13 million people. This is so meagre because, a state called Kano in Northern Nigeria is approximately said to be 14 million people by the 2006 population census. However, despite the small number of Zimbabwe's population, Mugabe's government is unable to provide the Zimbabweans with even basic social amenities. An informant told me that the government can spend 20 years constructing a single road due to underperformance.
The economy is very weak, which coupled with the growing rate of unemployment especially among the youth, abject poverty, political strife and repression. For these reasons, many Zimbabweans run to the neighboring South-Africa in search of a greener pasture.
Healthcare system is also weak and life expectancy is said to be 54 years for men and 53 years for women. This is due to Mugabe's maladministration and despotism. His draconian policies transcend not only the commoner, but the voices of the media whose information has to be censored by an established commission. Even foreign journalists who normally visit the country to render succor used to be arrested by the state police and deported back to their countries. According to US-based Freedom House ‘Journalists have traditionally faced verbal intimidation, physical attacks, arbitrary arrest and detention, interception of communications, and financial pressure at the hands of the police, government officials and supporters of both political parties'.
The Ndebeles have experienced these problems even before they become much pronounced. It is only in the early decade of the 21st century that even the Shona began to see vividly clear, the beast inherent in Mugabe and started taking a step to change the government. The truth is that Mugabe must step down whether he likes it or not because his rule is doing more harm than good to the people and national development. He should also know that Gukurahundi genocide is waiting for him in this world, or in the hereafter.

Nadir A. Nasidi is a historian, a freelancer, a writer, an independent researcher and a Human Right Activist in Kano, Nigeria. Also Founder and the National secretary, Youth Liberation Front.

Source - Nadir A. Nasidi The National Secretary, Youth Liberation Front, Kano, Nigeria
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