About Brian Maregedze

Brian Maregedze is a Zimbabwean Historian, author and Columnist.

Email; bmaregedze@gmail.com


ICT and transformation of the learning and teaching of Family and Religious Studies (FRS) in Zimbabwe

By Brian Maregedze

The current global health crisis due to the novel Coronavirus has affected all facets of society in many ways. With focus on the education sector, what mechanisms do exist that allow learning to prevail? Globally, reputable universities, institutes of higher learning, publishing companies have made efforts to offer free access to their reading portals. Resilient mechanisms are being put in place to positively counter the social distancing efforts which foster a health society. Learning from home and employing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) offers an alternative to confront this global health crisis. In Zimbabwe, there is a user friendly online learning portal that is beginning to gain more bearing among high school learners. UpperView Dzidzo Online has been active for the past three years and it’s accessible via WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a free messenger application that works across multiple platforms and is being widely used by high school learners to send multimedia messages including simple texts, audios, videos and pictures.

The FRS Dzidzo online is a WhatsApp platform to access Family and Religious Studies Notes, Essays and Template questions and prerecorded audio Lectures. Learners interact with the Family and Religious expert and have opportunity to discuss at given time on topical issues. To date more than 3000 students have been assisted over a period of 3 years and success from learners have made the platforms very popular. To date learners engage with their online teacher as alternatives and compliments to the formal learning. The FRS Dzidzo online has been created to assist learners with the least resources without access to textbooks or teachers. It connects the rural and urban learners through interactive learning in groups or one-on-one for a meagre fee of $ZW35 per month which is less than 1 $USD. Learners access efficient libraries which automate notes past exams, and essays at the learners reach. The have timely lessons in which the teacher post audio lectures and notes. By so doing, both teachers and learners can harness the use of mobile phones.

The Platforms have increased and now subjects offered include Advanced level Family and Religious Studies, Literature in English, Geography, History, Sociology, Business Studies and Economics. Due to social and economic meltdown in Zimbawe the education system has deteriorated in terms of quality. Teachers have constantly downed their tools and have become arguably less effective. This has affected the learning process which has become erratic and less effective.
More importantly, the marrow of the Upperview Dzidzo Online system is that it uses codes just like the popular duta. Learners can have access to the whole curriculum’s content at their hands, meaning learners access content just as they would do in the library or with a resource centre. The difference is that Upperview Dzidzo Online is the cheapest and popular platform, engaging students were they are most vulnerable to time wasting activities. Most parents subscribe for their children, they say it is better for their children to have online teachers rather spent money on data going online without a focus on productive usage of the internet. WhatsApp bundles are enough to access the Upperview Dzidzo Online groups.

Who is behind Upperview Dzidzo Online?

Forward Bukutu is the face behind Upperview Dzidzo Online. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities, major in Family and Religious Studies and History (Catholic University), post Graduate in education (Zimbabwe Open University) with a major in FRS /History. He is currently fully engaged with Valley Crest Academy, Parktown-Waterfalls. Besides being an educationists, he enjoys playing cricket.

Rethinking usage of mobile phones and high school learning

In as much as there are efforts to incorporate ICTs at all levels in Zimbabwe’s education system it remains problematic since some stakeholders are still attached to the “old learning habits.” The high school learner/s isn’t expected to carry a mobile phone within school premises. Paradoxically, in the same textbooks that learners are reading as prescribed by the New Curriculum dictates, mobile phones are available on the activities side. Learners are expected to use theory in understanding a mobile phone whilst it’s not acceptable according to some school regulations.

Zimbabwe president, Emmerson Mnangagwa recently donated 10 laptops per school in Nyanga-Manicaland Province on the Commissioning of the US$15million Irrigation Project. The schools include Avilla Secondary School, Regina Coeil Secondary, Nyakombe secondary, Chatindo Secondary, Bumhura Secondary Schools, Dewedzo (Makoni), Stirkroen (Chipinge), St. David’s Bonda (Mutasa) and Chikuvire Primary School. These are commendable efforts to support e-learning in both primary and secondary schools. However, e-learning initiatives should go beyond use of laptops. The use of mobile phones is critical to e-learning. At some point, the former Minister of Primary and Secondary education received mixed responses when he endorsed positive appreciation on mobile phone usage. Hence, a paradigm shift towards embracing mobile phones in schools. This, however, doesn’t suggest to say no necessary guidelines are put in place to mitigate negative effects such as absconding lessons to attend to text messages and or calls during the learning process.

Brian Maregedze is an author, historian & columnist. He is a Research Associate with Leaders for Africa Network (LAN), a pan-African research think tank. Has professional membership with Zimbabwe Historical Association (ZHA). He has written textbooks in History and FRS for advanced levels. For feedback, e-mail bmaregedze@gmail.com

The Army and Politics in Zimbabwe: Mujuru, the liberation Fighter and KingmakerBook review Brian Maregedze

Review & Mail Writer

The long-awaited biography of a controversial figure, Solomon Mujuru nom de guerre Rex Nhongo was finally published in February 2020 under Cambridge University Press. Blessing Miles Tendi, the Oxford Professor of African Politics critically offers a first detailed biographical account on Solomon Mujuru since his mysterious death in an allegedly inferno at his Beatrice farm-house on 15 August 2011. More interesting is that the biography is a product of critical investigation into written sources as well as oral interviews with key players in Zimbabwean politics particularly in colonial and independent Zimbabwe which assist in recovering the memory of Solomon Mujuru “ Rex Nhongo.”

The Oxford based Professor of African Politics, B-M Tendi chronicles the early childhood of Solomon Mujuru from Chikomba district (Charter) in Mashonaland East province demonstrating his strengths and weaknesses as he is remembered from close relatives and associates. More notable is that Solomon Mujuru had issues with fire in his lifetime such that the author relates to 1952 as a first encounter where he survived a “brush of fire” whilst he was sleeping with his elder brother Joel in their thatched kitchen hut covering themselves with a sack. This fire account is titled Fireborn 1 whilst the 15 August 2011 tragic incident is referred to as Fireborn 2. In the early 1980s, Solomon’s lit cigarette also torched fire on their bedroom when he was with his wife Joice. The author didn’t mention why Solomon’s hotel “fire” incident in Geneva-Switzerland which he had attended the failed independence conference isn’t befitting Fireborn 2 or Fireborn 3. Around 2017, this book was titled Ashes and Fire: Life of Solomon Mujuru (Rex Nhongo) raising hopes to those who thought more will be unveiled on his mysterious death. However, the book got a new title which the author didn’t explain to readers.

In his early childhood, Solomon was nicknamed Ruzambu (reed) due to his ill health and thinness which was made “starker” with the size of his head (p.11). Stuttering in speech and being mostly quiet remained permanent in Solomon’s life. He was the tenth of twelve children, however, lost his mother at the age of three.
Solomon Mujuru’s political activism is traced from Zimuto High School in Masvingo where he met with other liberation war luminaries such as Kumbirai Kangai who was his teacher then. Schools where sites of ideological orientation especially in resisting colonial oppression. In 1962 while he was in Standard 6, he was expelled at Zimuto high school for political activism forcing his family to send him to Zambia so that he could finish his studies. [Un]Fortunately in Zambia, student activism was at its climax such that Solomon didn’t even finish his studies resulting in him continuing with the struggle against colonial domination.

Politics of entitlement

Solomon Mujuru believed in ‘liberation war entitlement.’ During the integration years in the 1980s, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) cadres felt entitled to get higher posts and status as compared to the ZIPRA cadres. ZANLA was ZANU’s armed wing. This created tension since S. Mujuru was well known to have had a history of changing from ZIPRA to ZANLA during the liberation struggle. Come independence, some seniors from ZIPRA saw in Mujuru their junior. Hostility was inevitable as he was now the chief of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA). Dumiso Dabengwa the late liberation war hero refused to be led by his [former] junior (p.178-9). Mutinhiri, General de Gaulle, is another figure who was ‘marginalised’ in integration in 1980 although he was ZIPRA’s chief of staff from 1976-78 and having been a military instructor prior to that. Above that, the same personality had facilitated Solomon Mujuru’s escape in 1971 when he defected from ZIPRA to ZANLA.

As such, ZANLA-ZIPRA rivalry expressed itself in various ways. ZANLA cadres felt entitled to higher positions in the newly ZNA ranks due to their allegiance to ZANU which had won the 1980 elections. S. Mujuru was also ‘compelled’ by circumstances not to be found getting the sell-out tag by promoting ZIPRA cadres ‘fairly’ during the early years of independence. The army also ended up vulnerable to ‘politicization’ by ZANU PF.
The author locates Gukukurandi of the 1980s within ZANLA-ZIPRA fissures as some ZIPRA cadres who deserted the army got the label of ‘dissidents’ (p.179).

The Kingmaker

This can be traced from Solomon Mujuru’s involvement in recommending Robert Mugabe to lead the party in the late 1970s. This is despite initial refusal by some members of the frontline states to recognize Mugabe. Mujuru’s recommendations are believed to have been motivated by Robert Mugabe’s education, Edwardian English, eloquence in speech, the Secretary of the party which was translated to second senior to Sithole who was the president then, and kin relations which are arguably distant (p. 85). Mujuru deployed his advantage of close networks with Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) to ensnare his adversaries, those from the Dare and High Command. At the end, Robert Mugabe became the president of party whilst Tongogara got hold of the army. Samora Machel, the former Mozambican president was also pivotal in Mujuru’s schemes (p.95).

More worth taking is that as the liberation struggle was underway, power struggles among the nationalists simultaneously had its toll. Ethnic conflicts were rampant. The death of Hebert Chitepo is indicative of the struggles. Again, the Nhari rebellion could also have played out its role in the way the leaders were divided. What possibly may be factual beyond Thomas Nhari’s group and their motivations is the persistent marginalization of middle ranked officers in the army. B-M Tendi argues that, “…Nhari mutineers exploited the absence of leading ZANLA commanders, who were in China and Romania on diplomatic engagements, to stage a mutiny.” Arm-chair commanders versus soldiers and commanders who lead from the front remains a contentious issue well detailed in the book. Mujuru’s life history posits a window through explanations for the Nhari revolt as motivated by internal factors rather external. Previously, David Martin and Phyllis Johnson, Ngwabi Bhebe had argued that Rhodesian intelligence influenced the Nhari, Badza and Molife mutiny.

Solomon Mujuru’s military credentials covered training and leading from the front in many places in Southern Africa as a region. His military operations in Mozambique under the FRELIMO equipped him with more experience since he had already undergone training in Bulgaria, China, Russia and Tanzania. It’s no wonder the story of Mujuru the liberator is transnational. He belongs to the few war heroes to be buried at the national heroes’ acre in Harare with such a memorable crowd. People from all political divides converged bidding farewell to the illustrious liberation fighter and Kingmaker.
The last chapter of the book delves into consistencies and contradictions associated with the death of Solomon Mujuru. Was Solomon murdered first then got burnt in his house? What was the role of state and non-state actors in distorting some information leading to factors surrounding Solomon’s death? These and other many questions as well as plausible theories are critically examined.

However, the author was also partly successful in pointing out the challenges associated with life and times of Solomon Mujuru. From his use of obscenities, discipline and punishment, entitlement, ‘disregard’ for the role of spirit mediums in the liberation struggle among others. The book also identifies stories of violence instigated by men towards girls, women during the struggle particularly sexual violence. Insights on other key figures during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle are illuminated, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert W. Chitepo, Dumiso Dabengwa among others. Sadly, Herbert Chitepo’s death remains a mystery over forty years since his death.
Given that Cain Mathema, the current minister of Primary and Secondary Education trained in Russia in 1968 with Mujuru, more narratives will likely emerge in the future. Surprisingly, there was no interview or reference to Cain Mathema’s writings in relation to many issues raised in this biographical work. Nonetheless, the book is well-researched and relevant to historians with musings in political history, peace and strategic studies, military studies and those interested in the history of liberation struggles in Africa.
Feedback, email: bmaregedze@gmail.com

Water woes, sextortion and blame games

By Brian Maregedze

Review & Mail Contributor

As Zimbabwe’s economy worsens, sextortion is setting in, with women and children falling victim to this form of abuse and corruption.

Drinking-water scarcity is a serious problem authorities have unsuccessfully dealt with for years in the country.

The International Bar Association (IBA) defines sextortion as: “A form of sexual exploitation and corruption that occurs when people in positions of authority whether government officials, judges, educators, law enforcement personnel, or employees seek to extort sexual favours in exchange for something within their power to grant or withhold. In effect, sextortion is a form of corruption in which sex, rather than money, is the currency of the bribe.”

In a report by Transparency International titled Gender and Corruption in Zimbabwe (2019:11), in Chitungwiza, Glenview and Budiriro, there is evidence of cases of women having to succumb to sextortion to get water. The same report notes that some women who don’t have money to pay bribes are forced to use sex as a form of payment. In the study, 45 percent of women indicated having received requests as bribes for sexual favours to access a services. Even though some claim water is a human right, the way it is immorally commodified is a cause for concern.

The fact that water is being sold by other means points to the decayed nature of service delivery in general. Many hours are spent on borehole queues and sometimes wells at undesignated spaces. Women and children carry the burden of waiting and expecting for better service delivery which in most cases doesn’t materialize. To the few who access tap water, it’s in many ways ghoulish. Again, the water may be available only at midnight. It’s now not an issue of wonder to see long queues of people close to midnight waiting to buy water when power is back. The sad reality of water woes can also be witnessed by the government’s desperate reaction, early January 2020, of drilling a borehole at the Parliament of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the poor carry the yoke of suffering.

Beyond blame game

Given this context, it’s surprising to realise that in state and non-state narratives, political parties still play blame-game rather than to address the actual water woes at hand. The reality is that the water shortages can be historically traced to poor colonial city planning.

Over 20 years ago, the late history professor, David N. Beach, partially exonerated ZANU PF led government when he argued that;

“Even urban planning was atrociously bad. Leaving aside the lack of thinking that left only a 45° segment of Salisbury for the African population; the very siting of the city was and is incompetent. It is well known that in 1890 the site was chosen at very short notice but what is not generally known is that in 1891 the Company (British South Africa Company [sic]) did think of resisting it, considering Norton, Mvurwi, Darwendale and even Rusape. The proposal to move the town was rejected, allegedly because the other sites were a few metres lower and thus less healthy, but actually because six brick buildings had already been put up, and the property developers did not want to lose their investments. Consequently, the town remained where the city is, upstream of its main water supply, and thus we are condemned to drink our own recycled waste!” (Beach 1999: 14)

The same scholar went on to note that:

“Unfortunately, when it comes to long-term planning Homo sapiens zimbabweensis is not significantly different from H. sapiens rhodesiensis. Indeed, the two are far more alike than many, would care to concede.”

The water scarcity challenge now has a blame game tradition which has to be dispelled by all means necessary. If Zimbabwe is to work again, incompetence from all political parties exhibited in blame games should come to an end. Forty years since the country attained its independence, the blame game narrative is all some political actors’ sleeves got to offer. Why then does history matter if humankind isn’t ready to learn from it? The Rhodesi-was-better nostalgia propagated by some academics and activists is more surprising.

D N Beach concluded his inaugural lecture in October 1998 painting pessimism rather than optimism whenever he gave reference to population growth in Zimbabwe. Urbanisation has been more of a curse rather than a blessing equally complemented by ill-advised policy makers whether pro or anti-establishment.

Water provision was premised on racial and segregation policies with African townships relegated to the periphery in quality service provision. It’s also a truism that all the political actors involved have proven failing to the electorate as they have all been corrupt, prone to mismanagement of funds and poor urban planners. Above that, the political actors have not addressed the problematic geographic location of Harare in water provision.

The areas being affected by water scarcity and water stress seem to be dried up more by the consistent lack of respect for wetlands or swamps. In January 2020, Minister Mangalisa Ndlovu made a chilling warning to those who continuously use the current model of so called development in municipalities. He described the decimation of wetlands as a heist on biodiversity that risks food and water shortages as well as driving species into extinction. In twenty years, all wetlands will likely disappear, hence worsening the already bad situation the country is experiencing. Climate change is real and as such, practical corrective steps should be taken.

In 2017, Budiriro residents ‘paid dearly’ for having houses built on the wrong place. The land mafia, that is, housing co-operatives and the politicians play the bigger part in deceiving citizens. Building in wetlands to meet the housing demands has its repercussions if not well addressed. Beyond political rhetoric, reason should reign. The land audit exposed how politicians use land in vote buying from within his party and outside. Failure to walk the talk in addressing these problems is testimony to those who still have hope in the leadership that it is still a mirage.

Underground water disappearance is fueled by such irresponsible behavior from the supposedly responsible authorities. The Environment Management Agency (EMA) has indications that in Chitungwiza, 14 out of 15 wetlands have been taken over by construction. Given this scenario, residents become the source of their problems.

Wetlands are critical as they act like a sponge which absorbs water and then recharges underground water so that the water table remains high. Not only that, wetlands help control flooding by absorbing excess water and releasing it gradually into water bodies.

As such wetlands preservation partially assist to address the changing climatic conditions. Water woes, sextortion and blame game will remain a perennial problem if citizens remain silent.

For feedback, email; bmaregedze@gmail.com

A story of determination and resilience Brian Maregedze

Simbarashe Nyamadzawo has remained consistent in motivating people through writing with Tatenda: an inspirational novel (2018) published by Gumiguru Incorporated being his third book (novella). The book is set partly in Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Silicon Valley, California-United States of America. Tatenda the key protagonist is a testimony of the possibility of rugs-to-riches in the world. Being born and raised in rural Zimbabwe-Domboshawa isn’t an obstacle. If there are some obstacles, they can still be overcome with strong determination. Having lost his father at a young age, Tatenda relied on his mother who stood by him under odd circumstances. Mbare musika, one of the oldest cities’ market place in Zimbabwe, offers avenue for income generation to small and medium enterprises. Domboshawa besides being a tourist destination in Zimbabwe, horticulture gives the place its resilience to daily hardships that people encounter. Tatenda’s mother had to make life possible for her family capitalizing on the Mbare market place. Tatenda had sadly lost his father at a young age as a result of a fatal road accident.

Besides facing hardships growing up, an important lesson worth noting in the book is that of financial literacy as key to every living person, both the young and old. When Tatenda married Rumbidzai, they ended up having financial problems which were products of the uncertain Zimbabwe economy and lack of financial literacy. They found themselves falling in to luxurious cars which they bought with bank loans. The couple didn’t own a house although Tatenda was a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a high tech company in Harare-Zimbabwe who had rose through the ranks with experience. As events turn upside down at work leading to salary cuts, Tatenda and his wife Rumbidzai found themselves in debt and struggling to pay off the outstanding money for the luxurious cars they had. It’s only with the help of their grandfather Jackson that Tatenda was oriented towards relying on entrepreneurship. Prior to that, when many close relatives were against Tatenda and Rumbidzai’s marriage, it was their grandfather Jackson who was supportive in all the way.

Rumbidzai is also a supportive wife who has some sense of vision and foresight. Given the nature of their relationship hurdles, she was ever content with her husband Tatenda. She saw Tatenda through his potential more than what he didn’t have. As they grew in love, Tatenda became the successful husband every young lady would dream of. This is in spite of the ups and downs they had financially. She didn’t change in terms of faithfulness under complex circumstances. In some instances, her mother would advise her to leave her husband since he was at some point financially down.

Sekuru Jackson is the one who eventually offered Tatenda a lifetime opportunity to Silicon Valley, California-United States of America attending an Innovation and Technology summit for high tech magnets across the world. It is on this event that Tatenda outshines other high tech specialists with his unique project to various business panelists winning himself over a million dollars. From then on, Tatenda’s story is never the same as it turns out that he manages to deal with his financial problems.

What is in a name?

The title of the book, Tatenda is a unisex name which according to the author means gratitude (p.g 6). Names carry meaning and values of a people among the indigenous people in Zimbabwe. In Tatenda’s case, his mother experienced difficulties in giving birth convincing his father to name him as such.

Important tourist destinations in Zimbabwe

To readers who are not familiar with some of the popular Zimbabwe’s tourists’ destinations, this book is for you. Domboshawa which is home to the author as well as the key protagonist, Tatenda, and is known for its balancing rocks. The name is derived from dombo meaning hill and shava (pronounced as shawa) meaning ‘red,’ literally translated as “the red rock.” Horticulture also sustains daily livelihood in Domboshawa and it’s located about 30 Km north of Harare (p.g 5).

Victoria Falls which is a waterfall bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe, generally referred to as Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) by the indigenous people is another tourist destination outlined in the book.

Colonial relics

Description given to the secretary, Ellen, being light-skinned as well as detailing having tea at various intervals of the day. Emphasis on tea or coffee not only on Tatenda’s arrival in Harare-the capital of Zimbabwe but reference to another cup of tea at Oliver R. Tambo airport in South Africa. Again, colonial etiquette forms another facet celebrated by the author. Tatenda was known to have a “weakness” in wearing black suits et cetera. These observations about tea, manners, etiquette and aesthetics makes sense to the historically oriented in colonial history of Zimbabwe. Mhoze Chikowero (2015) has partially dealt with these issues in his seminal work, African Music, Power, and Being in Colonial Zimbabwe.

More importantly, to those who have decolonial leanings, its notable that the usage of provinces in Zimbabwe remain after over a generation since the country attained self-rule from Britain in 1980.

Note withstanding the above, Tatenda: an inspirational novel remains a necessary read. Phillip Chidavaenzi and others offer a clean editorial work which makes the book a cut above many motivational books. This book is for the seriously serious as it addresses some of the social ills people encounter as they journey towards success and unleash their potential. The way Simbarashe Nyamadzawo weaves his story utilizing local and international motivational writers makes it more original and appealing. Determination and resilience dominates the whole book and for that, it’s a book to treasure.

Brian Maregedze is an author, historian and columnist. He is also a Research Associate with Leaders for Africa Network (LAN) – a Pan African research think tank. For feedback, email bmaregedze@gmail.com

12 Recommended Readings for Family and Religious Studies Advanced Levels Compiled by Brian Maregedze

The following readings are of value to both the facilitator and the learner in the study of Family and Religious Studies. It is prudent for learners to always consult with their facilitators when they want to use these readings.

New Trends in Family and Religious Studies focus on Zimbabwean Indigenous Religion and Judaism, Edulight Publishers, 2018. Authors- Brian Maregedze and Ability Muronzi).

Advanced Level Family and Religious Studies focus on Christianity and Islam, Dingani W, Mwiinde L & Maregedze B.

Bible in Africa Studies (BiAS) Series

All published by University of Bamberg, Germany.

FROM TEXT TO PRACTICE: The role of the Bible in daily living of African people today, (eds) Joachim Kügler, Masiiwa Ragies Gunda, vol. 4, 2nd edition, 2013

REIGN WITH HIM FOR THOUSAND YEARS (Rev 20:6): A socio-hermeneutical Exposition of biblical and contemporary millenarian Movements in Zimbabwe as radical Responses to Deprivation, David Bishau, vol. 2, 2010.

THE BIBLE AND HOMOSEXUALITY IN ZIMBABWE: A Socio-historical analysis of the political, cultural and Christian arguments in the homosexual public debate with special reference to the use of the Bible, vol. 3, Masiiwa Ragies Gunda, 2010.

DEATH AND AFTER-LIFE RITUALS IN THE EYES OF THE SHONA: Dialogue with Shona Customs in the Quest for Authentic Inculturation, Canisius Mwandayi, vol. 6, 2011.

THE BIBLE AND POLITICS IN AFRICA, (eds) Masiiwa Ragies Gunda and Joachim Kugler, vol. 7, 2012.

THE MESSIANIC FEEDING OF THE MASSES: An Analysis of John 6 in the Context of Messianic Leadership in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe, Francis Machingura, vol. 8, 2012

PROPHETS, PROFITS AND THE BIBLE IN ZIMBABWE, (eds) Ezra Chitando, Masiiwa Ragies Gunda & Joachim Kügler, vol 12, 2013.

THE BIBLE AND VIOLENCE IN AFRICA, (eds) Joachim Kügler, Lovemore Togarasei, Masiiwa R. Gunda, in cooperation with Ezra Chitando and Nisbert Taringa, Vol. 20, 2016.


ALUTA CONTINUA BIBLICAL HERMENEUTICS FOR LIBERATION: Interpreting biblical texts on slavery for liberation of Zimbabwean underclasses, Obvious Vengeyi, vol. 10, 2013.

More readings can be recommended by your facilitator.

A Croc and Bull Story – Wananchi Goes to America


‘Wananchi, the revolutionary cake has more yeast than flour. We cannot leave Uncle Sam’s bakery with an empty basket.’

‘Who are you, cloth-cap nigger?’

‘I am Tendai, the lawyer who briefed the U.S Senate on Zimbabwe’s coup lite. Since your goodwill dried up, the opposition has become a cigarette, bitten on one side, blazing on the other.

‘We are labelled sellouts for representing Zanu-PF goldfingers like Chombo, Gono and Chipanga in court and branded worse when we come here for a reset with our original paymasters.’

‘I have no idea what you are talking about.’

‘Times have been hard since Uncle Sam weaned us out of his baby sling. Can you imagine that we started as a labour movement but recently my colleague had to hand the bourgeoisie a court ruling that sent 20 thousand workers home, all for the capitalist cheque?’

‘Why are you here? The Zimbabwean delegation was…

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For better or worse, @ 95 Robert Mugabe leaves a legacy

Brian Maregedze

I WOKE up early on Friday, 6 September 2019 with the social media buzz on my WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter on the death of Robert Mugabe, the long-time serving former President of Zimbabwe. Previously, during his days as President of Zimbabwe, he “died” many times especially in January of every year. It became common to think Cde Mugabe as one with nine lives. Now he is no more, what else can I think of except to take a retrospection on the life and times of Robert Mugabe? It is against my Ubuntu teachings of course to think negatively especially after the death of an elder. In our Shona vernacular the elders say Wafa Wanaka (we are not to speak ill of the dead). On the contrary, the same Shona elders also say rufu haruzivishe (death doesn’t matter). 

I was born, raised in Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe

In historical terms, grand narratives were interpreted along street parlance of nyika yavaMugabe (Mugabe’s country). Growing up in such a Zimbabwe, I remember vividly my interest in seeing Cde Mugabe at a tender age. I was only 12 years when I successfully made efforts to sneak into Chibuku Stadium back in 2002. Cde Mugabe had come for a political rally and I knew I wouldn’t be allowed entrance into the stadium. At that age I had also learned in Social Studies of his heroism in the independence of the country.

For better or worse, @ 95 Robert Mugabe leaves a legacy

Image: Cde Robert Mugabe

Watching television at that age, I remember I could also sing the famous hondo yeminda jingles. More interesting, behind the hondo yeminda jingles, I was already aware of Cde Mugabe’s sloganeering at Chibuku Stadium which was on Ivhu Kuvanhu (land to the people). I was to learn later on as an undergraduate in the Department of History at the University of Zimbabwe that the theme for the 2002 elections was the land is the economy and the economy is the land.

What I still remember again when I had sneaked into Chibuku Stadium was that Cde Mugabe’s appearance on the stage gave me an intense excitement which I can’t explain its origins even to this day. I was happy to have seen the popular figure who was adorned on many T-shirts, caps and dresses that the party supporters were wearing. It was of course colourful. Green, yellow, green, red and white decorated colours were appealing. And yes, Elliot Manyika (late) also accompanied the President on this occasion. The stadium was packed to full capacity and other people even failed to make it inside. Making his speech, he expressed his joys and challenges with Chitungwiza party cadres (ZANU-PF) towards the impending 2002 elections. His main issue was that Chitungwiza party true cadres were not supposed to disappoint the spirit medium of the great Chaminuka. To avoid disappointing the spirit of Chaminuka, the people had to vote for the ruling party ZANU-PF.

On the same occasion, the now late Morgan Tsvangirai was described as one not to be voted into power. Voting for him was viewed as equivalent to selling out the country to former colonisers. I went home of course happy that I had seen the President in person (I mean of course being among the party supporters). I was also fortunate enough to have seen my elder brother inside the stadium. He was angry that I had followed him into the stadium but it was now too late to take me outside, except to monitor my movements as closely as possible. Our parents had gone to work and they didn’t know about all these movements.

I was to see Cde Mugabe again three years later at an official opening of High school computers at Zengeza 4 High School. I was then attending my secondary education at Seke One High school. By then I didn’t know of political violence. I was to learn that when I was now doing my advanced levels, stories of people involved or caught up in political violence. The 2008 elections which were popularly known with the slogan, 27 June vaMugabe mu office (27 June Mugabe if office). This was prior to the contested harmonised March elections in 2008. I was now learning much faster and better about History as a subject and life in general. My father had passed away a year earlier and my mother, a cross border trader in South Africa would send groceries for us to survive. She was to die in September 2010 back in Zimbabwe (MHSRP).

I was now seeing other young people of my age and below 16 years leading even adults to sing party songs. Public speaking skills as a tool was another feature I remember to have understood at that stage. On his political sleeve were many tools employed to remain in power, the anti-sanctions discourse, religious appeal, the Look East policy, naming and labelling opposition party politics, among others.

All these memories have been revived by the death of the former President. I see in him a leader who was successful and also had a fair share of his failures. Anti-colonial struggle was won with Cde Mugabe playing his part among other founding fathers of Zimbabwe such as Joshua Nkomo, Ndabaningi Sithole, Edgar Tekere, and Herbert Chitepo, among many. Political rhetoric in the fight against imperialism won him international appeal to those of the Global South. Far from the grand narratives which elevated him to demigods during my primary and high school education, l now also accept his shortfalls as a leader. Beyond the excitement I had in 2002, I now look at his legacy in terms of both domestic and foreign policies. These perceptions, perspectives and or views are now a product of my academic training in History as a discipline and one who belongs to Zimbabwe. The economy was to get worse, leading to poor service delivery. His predecessor and long-time protégé, President Emmerson Mnangagwa inherited a poor economy in November 2017 after the operation code named Operation Restore Legacy.

Naming roads in every major city in Zimbabwe has been carried out with the aim of memorialising his life, the National Heroes Acre in Warren Park-Harare is ornamented with Cde Mugabe the colossus, the Robert Mugabe International Airport welcomes every visitor to Zimbabwe. History books have been written celebrating and some denouncing him. There have been contestations over Gukurahundi in the quest for peace and reconciliation, the myths and realities on the land reform, the involvement of Zimbabwe in the Mozambican civil war as well as Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

It shall be many years in Zimbabwe’s national memory conversing on and about the personality of Cde Mugabe. To some, he is a hero even beyond Zimbabwe borders, a doyen of Pan Africanism, a hero of Africa, a hero of the subaltern. On the one hand, his enemies saw him in bad light, and have accused him of many things. May His Soul Rest In Peace.

For better or worse, @ 95 Robert Mugabe leaves a legacy

  • Brian Maregedze is an author, historian and columnist. He is also a Research Associate with Leaders for Africa Network (LAN)- a Pan African research think tank and membership with Zimbabwe Historical Association (ZHA). Feedback email; bmaregedze@gmail.com