Breaking New Ground

We are a very ambitious people but our commitment has a short fuse! If we are to compete with other countries, we must start with building a thick skin. And we need not look any farther than next door up north in Zimbabwe. Here you’ll find some of the most industrious, hardworking intelligent people, who understand that patience is a virtue! Whenever their economy falters, as it has done since that day when former president, the late Robert Gabriel Mugabe sent troops to the Great Lakes Region to fight on the side of Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Laurent Kabila against the Rwanda and Uganda rebels - these ordinary Zimbabweans have perfected the art of survival! They would tap into their God-given talents and employ survival skills to make do with bare minimums, something that most of us here take for granted. These are the people that really understand the true meaning of intra-regional trade, because who has not encountered a Zimbabwean in any far-flung part of his country in the SADC bloc? I am pretty certain they have been to every part of the economic bloc selling an assortment of edibles - sugarcane, peanuts, bananas, mangoes - as well as handcrafted domestic utensils, such as woodcarved spoons. It doesn’t end there, they also sell their skills and labour – and since desperate times call for desperate measures – the labour and skills are usually sold for a song! But the point is that they don’t cry out to the government of the day to provide them with jobs, they tap into their reservoirs, they fend for themselves! Of-course, this is not to absolve governments of their intrinsic mandate of looking after their citizens through provision of amenities, but it is to emphasise the point that ultimately, your life is your personal responsibility. The onus is on you whether to choose to live or to perish! Yes, governments have a responsibility and that is to create policy environment that is conducive for doing business.They must come up with legislative frameworks that protect infant domestic industries against the perils of an unfettered capitalistic system of production that is often canouflaged under such fleeting epithets as free enterprise! Even as we know better, we must rise above these slogans. We must become new creatures and break free from the shackles of an education system that dulls the mind. This reminds me of the Caribbean musical genius – Berhainne Selassie, who once quipped, ‘If I were educated I would be a damn fool!’Indeed, this conventional classroom-based type of education has its downside as it can also make you dependent on the state or turn you into a guinea-pig or at worst, make you a zombie!The greatest danger is that it can also dull your ability for critical-thinking; cogitation and throw you into the depths of inertia! I have seen it happen with some of the people I had imagined to be men and women of letters! Needless to cite their weaknesses, suffice here to caution that we must all endeavour at all costs to work for our survival as a species! And this is where I see the great Zimbabwean people as a source of inspiration for Africa. Happily this happens at a time when the African continent is trying to exorcise itself from neocolonialism, as evidenced by the chants of pan-Africanism that are reverberating across the continent. Additionally we are also seeing African governments acceding to Treaties that will compel the continent to trade amongst itself and to speak with one voice when engaging third parties. This is a good sign. But the most important is to implement the deals, let them not just be as good as the paper they were written on, rather let them serve the people of Africa. Zimbabweans have taught us the benefits of intra-Africa trade, we must try as much as possible to produce food for our national, regional and continental security; build communication infrastructure to give meaniing to the trade pacts and open the skies! For God’s sake in this day and age, why should Africa’s aviation still remain under the clutches of Europe? It’s a disgrace to say the least.