Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

If everyone cared

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Last year, a friend of mine sent us a link to this fabulously uplifting Nickelback video on Youtube. Of course, Zimbabwe being the failed state that it is, when I try and watch the video now, it tells me that I can’t view this video from my country. Save me! But luckily, someone else has spotted it here.

Anyway, in the meantime, we’ve gotten ourselves the DVD, and have been sharing it with our subscribers and in mobile video screenings. The song is called If Everyone Cared, and the theme of the four minute music video is the amazing, impressive and even world changing impact passionate, committed individuals can make when they take action on the issues that inspire them.

Last week, my workmate and I took our laptop and DVD to meet a friend for coffee. We set up the computer on a table at the café under a tree, and turned the volume up as high as it would go. Our friend loved it. When the video was over, he had the biggest smile on his face, and said he wanted to get up and join the nearest demonstration.

On the weekend, we took the laptop round to another friend’s house for a home screening. Eight people crowded together around a sofa in the lounge, and watched. Much of the discussion afterwards revolved around the upcoming elections, of course. But more than that, people discussed the sense of frustration they often feel when looking at how far things in Zimbabwe have declined. They spoke about this sense of “What can I do?” that they often experience and encounter in conversations with others.

To answer this question, one person said “get informed.” A woman described the newspaper reading club she’s started in her neighbourhood. A group of people pool together to buy two or three newspapers each week – a mixture of the state and independent press. They then all meet at one person’s house, and read the different papers and discuss the articles in them, trying to get underneath each paper’s bias to decide for themselves what they think of the news.

Other answers to this question “What can I do?” included:

  • Help a friend
  • Help a stranger
  • Write a letter to the newspaper
  • Pick up litter
  • Smile at a child

Simple, little ways in which we can all start to “be the change we want to see in the world,” as Gandhi put it.

All this reminded me of an opinion piece we recently posted on Kubatana – Albert Gumbo’s thoughts on a new African citizen. Gumbo calls for a citizens’ movement across Africa. This movement isn’t so much about politicians or ideologies as it is about standing up for oneself and demanding the basic minimum of service and respect from a government. He suggests basic demands such as:

  • I pay my rates, and I therefore demand that the municipality empties the dust bin outside my house.
  • I pay school fees, and I therefore demand that the schoolteacher turns up, teaches my child and marks her work.
  • I pay taxes, and I therefore demand that the government builds roads, schools, hospitals and delivers clean drinking water to me.

One of the lines in the Nickelback song is “If everyone shared and swallowed their pride / Then we’d see the day when nobody died.” Somehow, with the momentum of looking out for one another, standing up for ourselves, and demanding a basic level of human dignity from and for everyone, there is the potential to create an entirely different people’s movement for change. This movement isn’t about politics, politicians, or parties. It’s about living with integrity, treating everyone with respect, and harnessing the power of outrage at injustice that can motivate us into action. Like Viktor Frankl said, the world is in a bad state. But it will keep getting worse unless we all do our best.

If you’re in Zimbabwe and you’d like to invite the Kubatana team around for a home viewing of the Nickelback video If Everyone Cared, or you’d like your own copy, please write to us on info [at] kubatana [dot] org [dot] zw

2 comments to “If everyone cared”

  1. Comment by mags:

    I have just managed to find it on the following link!


  2. Comment by Sally Davies:

    Not available in South Africa either, apparently. And the link helpfully posted by mags has now been removed.

    Guess nobody cares if people in this part of the world aren’t being inspired to demand basic human dignity – or perhaps that basic profit motive trumps basic human dignity when it comes to making music videos available on the Web.

    Sally D
    Western Cape, RSA