I sat down to write this after getting inspired by Achebe’s essay collection titled The trouble with Nigeria. For those of you who have not read it i suggest you do so henceforth. The most striking aspect of the book for me is the fact that Chinua tries to honestly assess what is wrong with his country so that people can begin to look for solutions. Self-introspection is absolutely necessary for each and every African country that pretends to be a democracy. I firmly believe that now is the time for Zimbabweans to look and see what is wrong with their country.
Zimbabwe is one of the worst countries in the world to live in. There is nothing great about Zimbabwe. Our roads are mostly pathetic. We do not have a currency of our own and we queue in order to get US dollars from an atm. There is never any water supplied directly to our houses for the vast majority of the year. Imagine that. We cannot flush our toilets in the middle of the night if nature calls. Finding a job in this country is like trying to find gold in a disused coal mine, with no tools and in pitch black darkness. Our sports teams mostly suck and we have one of the worst television channels in the world, ZBC. I say this not because I am not a patriot but because if Zimbabweans are to improve their lot in life, they have to be honest about their predicament.
The biggest problem that Zimbabwe has is its people. Zimbabweans are cowards. We Zimbabweans are afraid of anything and everything. Fear has kept Zimbabweans in a choke hold. I have no clue as to why this is so. Maybe it is something in our DNA or maybe it is because we have allowed ourselves to unintentionally fall into this unfortunate scenario and we haven’t had the opportunity to pull ourselves back up from it. The unfortunate thing about fear is that it is completely debilitating. Fear opens the door for inaction. This is because once you allow fear to take over, it paralyses you.
Zimbabweans are afraid of being bewitched. We tell each other not to eat food at such and such a relative’s house because that relative MIGHT have nefarious motives. There is fear that success leads relatives to conspire against us. Most of the evidence for this alleged witchcraft is to be found at funerals. Men and women huddle together to exchange gossip on who is trying to bring down so and so. There is never any concrete evidence for this witchcraft except for hearsay. Closely tied to the fear of witchcraft is the fear of the supernatural. Zimbabweans are afraid of avenging spirits and financial wealth that is derived from goblins and talking snakes. Now, the foreign reader will find it amazing that such an educated country would have such primitive beliefs. But dear foreign reader, I shit you not! I personally believe that goblins and talking snakes are fantasies and complete bullshit. Those in the know state that the consequences of dealing with goblins for financial reward are gruesome. Apparently the goblin demands that in exchange for wealth one or more of your family members has to die. The problem is this. People kill their relatives each and every day according to our local newspapers. Why then would someone be afraid to kill a much hated relative for the added benefit of financial gain? Either way everyone has a price. I personally would not object to sacrificing a family member for 30 billion U.S dollars in cold hard cash. Actually, if a family member wanted to sacrifice me for 30 billion dollars I would let them do so. One of us has to be lucky right?
Zimbabweans are too conservative, old fashioned and stoic. The failure to adopt new ways of doing things and modernity will be our downfall. African culture has always been an impediment to the development of all Africans. I feel that for Zimbabweans it is particularly worse however. This is because of the stagnation and stunted growth the country is experiencing. Take the issue of homosexuality for example. The country has explicitly rejected the concept of rights for gay people. What I don’t understand is this. Why should I give a fuck if John and Steve are fucking each other next door? What does something that two consenting adults do behind closed doors have to do with me? The argument has always been that allowing homosexuals will result in children being influenced to be gay. This to me does not make any sense. If this were true then all the children in the western countries that allowing homosexuality would be flaming homosexuals!
Prostitution should be legalised. This is because those women offer an invaluable service to society. Prostitutes make it possible for men to bear with wives that withhold conjugal rights. This I believe makes the world more bearable and men more stress free and driven to divert their efforts to productive economic activities. Women too are thus not abandoned by their husbands. While we are at it, all the major recreational drugs should be legalised. People are taking marijuana; cocaine and heroin anyway so why not tax the production and sale of these substances?
Finally, Zimbabweans lack drive, vision, enthusiasm and zest. Zimbabweans have no broader conceptualisation of their place in Africa and the world. That is to say what is the place of Zimbabwe in the world? Many great nations have come to be simply because their peoples willed them to greatness. People determined to build great nations usually succeed. Examples are Nazi Germany, the USA and ironically Israel. Zimbabweans do not know what position they want this country to occupy in Africa. Why can’t Zimbabwe be a regional power that influences the affairs of SADC? Why can’t Zimbabwe strive to be a world superpower? What is it that we lack that other nations have? Lack of ambition means that Zimbabwe will continue to be referred to as some backwater African state that only appears on CNN when something bad happens.