Many may wonder what a revolution is. Who is revolutionary? What are the attributes of a revolution? The late Bob Marley comes to mind as he belted the song with the lyrics “soon we will find out who is the real revolutionary…”
Not so far from the same trail of thought is Mao Tse Tung the chairman of revolutions. Liberation movements in Africa have been identified as revolutionary, and after ushering in independence, their trail of revolutions as would be alluded to by Chairman Mao fades away. Nothing they do for their people is epic or upsetting the status quo.
The story of Ndabaningi Sithole in the book African Renaissance comes to mind as one traces the essence of changing the norm and viewing it as somewhat revolutionary. It is my strongest conviction that one can safely liken this epic stance of offsetting the social order which was done by Sithole as that being done currently by the First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe.
The story told off the cuff goes somewhat like this. When he (Sithole) was a school teacher, he taught in Chipinge and the area is well known for witchcraft.
There were children, “the untouchables”, who were not supposed to be beaten up at the school no matter the mayhem and trouble they caused “because their father was a popular and renowned witch doctor.”
As time went on, they crawled up the nerves of the young teacher and he had had enough. So, as a school teacher, he beat them up as a disciplinary measure. The father “witch doctor”, got wind of this unheard of act and went to the school, angrily stood at the school entrance with a fearful, forceful voice and said: “The teacher who beat up my children shall not live to eat the maize crop of this season”.
I would like to think the maize was almost due for harvesting. Upon hearing this proclamation, all the pupils and teachers were convinced that the young teacher would meet his fate at such a tender age. I am sure the dramatic ones even made a silent prayer for him.
However, the teacher in question did not seem moved by this rhetoric. He calmly went to his hut, which I presume was at the school premises and he took his ndonga (a short club with a round top) and came out of the hut speaking to it with confidence and conviction that it was in turn speaking to him.
He walked close to the “witch doctor” and shouted in the same fearful and forceful tone of voice “Well old man, I have heard what you said and after consulting my things, they want you to know that the sadza you had for lunch this afternoon will surely be your last”.
The old man was dumbfounded to think he had met his match. He tried to calm Sithole down so that they could reason together as his proclamation was to be realised soon. He even implored the headmaster to calm Sithole down and reach a compromise. What witchcraft was this that was threatening to end his life so soon, the old man must have thought.
And as a firm believer in witchcraft and the norm, he clearly went berserk. After long negotiations with the headmaster, Sithole and the old man in full glare of pupils and teachers, Sithole then said: “Old man, my things have already gone to your house and as soon as you get home you will surely die…”
The old man begged for mercy and forgiveness to which Sithole told him he would have to accompany the old man to his homestead because if he went alone, his things could even attack him on his way. They travelled together and along the way Sithole reversed the utterances of the old man upon his life and at the same time he was doing some funny stances and gimmicks as though stopping some unseen beings from attacking.
The amazing moral of the story is that Sithole was of a younger generation who was bold enough to question myth and act on it by changing the norm. He brought the once feared on their knees by also showing temerity and boldness.
Imagine how many could have attempted to ask Sithole not to dare try that with the old man, not to scare him or question him and his powers.
If we as young people do not prepare ourselves in a smart way to challenge the older generation and we just remain “yes boss” type of youths, we will die of fear of the unknown. We belong to the generation that must ask questions and challenge the myths within the social, political and economic quo.
When Dr Mugabe entered the active political scene, she stated clearly that she had been watching the game and many thought she was not interested and that she could not cope with the political pressures but alas she was preparing and she was preparing well. Sometime in August 2014, Dr Mugabe entered the political arena much to the ululation of very few who wanted to use her to settle their scores and much to the horror and objection of many who knew she would potentially cause havoc.
Many thought she was a trophy wife, unquestioning and timid and yet to the contrary she is as bold as Sithole. When she tells old men and women to STOP IT, clearly we all see a difference in their conduct. When she tells the nation to WATCH THIS SPACE, she becomes the highlight and reason why we would all want to be glued to our televisions and radios and even attend the rallies in order to see or hear firsthand as she puts certain old men in their rightful places. She never speaks out of turn, upon watching and following her addresses one comes to the full realisation that she is challenging some old men and women who thought they were the “untouchables”.
The havoc that she was to cause is being seen by many Zimbabweans as spreading negative vibes but those who think that in my view are male chauvinists who have finally met their match clothed in a dress. Her impact on the political scene is a positive one as it has protected most women from the harassment, intimidation, abuse and bullying of women in politics by men. Her political game is epic and somewhat revolutionary. It was a much awaited for recognition that women deserved from the role they played during the country’s liberation struggle but never got due to the male hegemony.
Many will agree covertly or overtly that some men in politics were the untouchables. So untouchable to the extent that any sort of mental, physical or verbal abuse they exerted on women was ignored. I recall hearing horrific stories of how some very senior men in politics are fathers to many children out of wedlock and how some left their side chicks in the cold after promising them heaven on earth.
I have also heard of how some married women in and out of politics worshipped these men in order to advance their careers or that of their husbands.
Women did all this in fear of all these men. But at a certain rally in Manicaland during her meet the people rallies in 2014, Dr Mugabe undressed and named a certain man who has over 100 children.
She went further telling that man and many others to STOP IT. She has changed the norm by saying out the truth which is often swept under the carpet to protect the patriarchy and even the corrupt. Women are often encouraged to hold back and stay in the pack. Often encouraged to see no evil and hear no evil and some of this is perpetuated by fellow women. It makes a lot of sense that former Vice President Joice Mujuru had to be put aside during the course of the revolution because she had been engulfed and whipped into line by patriarchy forgetting to fight openly for the women’s revolution. She made it and still makes it seem like a quixotic.
Many women are quick to write off Dr Mugabe but she is a martyr, and women must identify with their icon and be able to see, touch and feel her heroic efforts towards the revolution than the demure and somewhat non-existent stance taken by many women in leadership positions and in politics.
Her impact is being felt heavily on the political field, her boldness is fast but encroaching into the social lane and soon many women shall be bold and brave enough to show that they are fed up and that men should just STOP IT. Stop what one may ask? The physical, mental and emotional abuse that they put many women in the households through and expect women to just sweep it under the carpet and not speak out. Indeed, generations of young women to come have a lot to learn from this icon, in our revolution. She has left many with vacuous expressions.
It takes only an ignoramus to not view that it is women who flock the rallies all in an apparent attempt to hear the good news and salvation from Dr Mugabe, slowly but surely she will breed disciples who will champion this cause in all sectors thus flushing out corruption, patronage and get out of the miasma men created.
This is the much awaited type of leadership style that Zimbabwe needs. Many women must rally behind Dr Mugabe’s forthrightness and use it to their advantage while the time still permits and the men are still in a quandary.
Fundisani Dewa is the Zanu-PF Youth League Deputy Provincial Secretary for Transport and Welfare. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org