I have grown up in a society crippled with fear. Justified fear if one looks at Zimbabwe’s history after independence. Gukurahundi, 2008.
ZANU PF Headquarters, Harare
Our head of state was revered. Feared. Even the sounds of the approaching motorcade made us freeze. We have looked upon other countries with envy over their freedom and ability to call out their heads of state for any wrongdoing whilst back in the motherland, stating the obvious like that the president was old would have you labeled treasonous.
Growing up, I feared the army. Just the mere sight of an army ‘puma’ left me petrified. I remember earlier this year fighting my way down a congested pavement in the CBD when I got caught up in a fleeing mob. I had no idea what we were fleeing from , I only realized when I was safe in a cosmetics shop in Chinhoyi street mall that we were fleeing from soldiers. Few people saw the soldiers, most people just ran out of fear. Crippling fear.
So 17 November 2017 is a day I am putting down as one of the most memorable days of my life. In the morning as I stepped outside to get my day started, an army helicopter went by. Instead of the trepidation that always consumed me when such a machine went past, I felt something swell within my heart. A mixture of elation, hope and fear. Fear that maybe as the day went on, there would be a horrible plot twist and things would turn ugly for the hopefully and anxious me. A lot of negative messages were doing the rounds, especially one allegedly from Emmanuel Makandiwa who prophesied that there would be bloodshed if people went ahead with the march.
The early rains and these discouraging messages did not stop me from taking a part in a momentous event in history. It seemed as if God had Zimbabweans in mind on this day, the rains stopped and no sun blazed down upon us. It was a cool day in our favor.
As we went down Lytton road towards the CBD, I could not believe my eyes at the crowds walking towards Zimbabwe Grounds. And a whole army tanker with members of the ZDF within the crowds. No one showed any fear. Everyone seemed jubilant, singing, waving flags and carrying placards that sent one strong message across.
The Zimbabwe Grounds atmosphere was surreal. I felt like weeping. The place was packed beyond comprehension. These were the very same grounds that President Mugabe had used before for major Zanu PF events. And now the citizens were using them to take part in the political processes of the country.
We walked from Highfields to the State House and up to today I do not know where the strength that allowed us to keep going came from. We walked, jogged, sang and danced to Jah Prayzah’s music along the way. Joked and laughed with people I have never met in my entire life.
Not once did I witness any incident of violence along the way. There was this euphoria that gripped the people. This electricity in the air which made me feel so proud to be Zimbabwean, a feeling I have not had in a long time. I felt so honored to be taking part in an event that was shaping the future of Zimbabwe.
Members of the army exchanged smiles and jokes and took photos with civilians. Never in my living days did I ever think this would happen. And the state media for the first time in forever finding itself on the same side with the people. Refreshing.
So maybe we have been played as the president’s nephew says. Or we are in for more difficult times with ED at the helm as some people are suggesting. Everyone who marched was aware it was still Zanu PF in power. I didn’t march for PDP or Zanu or MDC, I marched for a fresh start so we could at least get a leader who will help revive our economy and make Zimbabwe great again.
Maybe things will become worse. Maybe things will become better. Who knows? It’s not like all these armchair analysts predicted the events of the past few days.
For now may we be allowed to breathe and express all the pent up frustrations, fear and hopelessness,One day at a time. After all worrying will not change anything. God showed up and showed off.