Liberating the black African from his victim mentality
We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because none but ourselves can free our minds
As we aspire to change the social circumstances of black Africans, I think it is important that we understand those things that keep arresting our progress as continent. The other day, I was fortunate enough to watch Zimbabwe television news hour. I say fortunate because, although the experience was thoroughly uninspiring, it triggered off some rather interesting thoughts in my mind. I realized that, unless we Africans change our political narrative, we will continue to be limited by a victim mentality that our politicians articulate at every instance.
While watching the local news, it was quite astounding to observe both the body language and the language our ministers use. They all unconsciously mimic President Mugabe and they all continually reinforce his dispositions on almost every issue, whether he is right or not. Of course, one issue is that of fear but to me, it is more about the fact that, despite the truth that their story about our reality has expired, they continue hold onto the prejudice and struggles of the past in order to validate their current legitimacy. Their self worth is deeply ingrained in a past that no longer exists. Their propaganda is relentless, and they have mastered the use of illusions to daily focus our attention on their vested interests, not the common good. Their forsaken egos cannot withstand scrutiny, so they protect them with lies, innuendo and half truths.
I imagined the millions of Zimbabweans who have no alternative, but to watch our local news hour on television. Every single day, they continue to be barraged with this same regressive political narrative. It is therefore, highly probable that they actually believe it to be the truth. After all, a lie repeated many times becomes a truth.
It has served our current political leadership to abuse our state media and continue to relentlessly harp on how the black Zimbabwean was treated unjustly in the past, how they alone delivered the “freedom” that we enjoy today, and how the West continually connives to prejudice Zimbabweans at every instance. Now, I am not naïve to suppose that there are no international unconstructive forces that continue to handicap the development of Africa, especially when it comes to trade and investment. However, the problem is continually framed as if there is some committee in the West that sits in this darkly lit and smoke filled room, and comes up with means and ways to punish Zimbabweans especially through sanctions, spying through NGO’s, support of opposition parties and many other wicked accusations that are incessantly regurgitated through our state media..
It is important that we reject this somewhat clever reframing of why we are underdeveloped because what it does; is to continually dis-empower us from taking the responsibility to address the socio economic problems that we have largely been responsible for creating. This victim mentality worked in the past to unite Africans against colonialism or apartheid. It worked well in order for African countries to access aid and assistance during the armed struggle days, especially during the cold war era. Unfortunately, it has also worked well to prolong dictatorships and entrench incompetent leaders.
I believe that our self esteem as humans is strengthened when our self worth is based on our personal or spiritual power to change our circumstances. As soon as we blame somebody else or something else out there for our circumstances, we are, in fact, demeaning who we truly are. This, unfortunately, has been the impact of Zimbabwe’s political narrative, as articulated by ZANU (PF) over the last thirty three years.
In Zimbabwe, the resistance by ZANU (PF) to open up the media space, to allow freedom of association and free flow of information, the fight against new communications technologies, NGO’s are all attempts to stop the free dissemination of information perceived contrary to their moribund political narrative. If the truth be said; ZANU (PF)’s political narrative has become unpalatable to progressive Zimbabweans but they continue to insist on feeding us this garbage through the media. Hell, we even have supposedly learned and articulate men, including professors, using their intelligence to write unending columns to endorse this bizarre narrative that; we are forever victims of the past and must therefore, be bound by their selfish interpretation and experience of history, and not by the unlimited potential of our future. I refuse to accept that.
I pray that we shall begin to see a widespread rejection of liberation struggle victim mentality throughout Africa. In fact, we are beginning to see black Africans realize that, it is they who must shape their own future and not the older generation politicians. We cannot be led by men who continually look in the rear view mirror to determine where we are going. We must change who are but more important, we must change who we think we are and what our possibilities are.
Africa’s new political narrative must be based on self affirmation, self responsibility and the acceptance that indeed, we are more than what our so called liberators want us to believe. We must fight the mentality of scarcity that has resulted in the abuse of our resources and wide spread corruption. This must be replaced by a mentality of abundant possibility that accepts that Africa poses unimaginable opportunities for all of us to share.
Liberation by armed conflict is over and now is the time for liberation through mental freedom.
We must emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because none but ourselves can free our minds (Bob Marley’s redemption song)
Vince Musewe is an economic analyst based in Harare. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org