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What’s my contribution to the solution?

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At the Kubatana Creative Visioning meeting the other morning, Luke Tamborinyoka’s piece 71 dark days in Mugabe’s jail came up. In particular, his comment that:

Another reality struck as I walked out of the prison complex, that in fact the whole country was just another big prison. Harare Remand was simply a microcosm of what the whole country has become. There is no food on the shelves; starvation is stalking the nation and people can no longer afford to visit each other because of prohibitive transport costs. Zimbabwe has simply become a big prison with Mugabe as the chief warden.

It got us talking about the need to reclaim our country and redefine our role in it. Zimbabweans have slipped into the “us versus them” mentality that puts “those people” at fault for our problems – thus removing the burden of responsibility from our shoulders. But, in our own ways, we are all “those people” – when I elbow others out of the way so that I can secure my own spot on the back of the open bakkie to get home, when you race to get into the queue for the bread, the sugar, or the beer, when we plot how to make our own lives more comfortable, rather than tackling our current crisis at its roots, we are part of the disease, not the cure.

So we asked our subscribers: if our country has become a prison, how do we distract the warden and make him drop the keys, how do we sneak into his office and grab the keys for ourselves, or how do we take the prison apart brick by brick from the inside? How do we change our attitude and get ourselves out of this disempowered mentality that gives away the responsibility for our own liberation?

We received a range of thoughtful, inspiring suggestions, a few of which are listed below:

Zimbabweans of all political and religious persuasions must admit that we are all of us to blame for what we find ourselves in. The politicians’ politics has failed us (both governing and opposition politicians); the prayers or lack thereof of religious Zimbabweans have not yielded the Zimbabwe we want yet. The complaints of the complainers has not brought about the change we want, (if change is what we want) But what change? Of culture, politics, work ethics, relationships one with another or of religion? If change is what we want, lets go beyond the slogan and define the change we want; and that slogan must be a slogan for all Zimbabweans and not for certain sections of the Zimbabwean populace.

How about we grow some vegetables, takes away some of the helpless feeling, plant a container garden! Get a jik 2 litre bottle, cut of the top part of it, poke some smallish holes into the sides, dig it into the ground, leave it so you can fill with water and plant your seeds / seedlings around it. Keep the container filled with water, so your veggies have water. Water wise and economical and it works. Smile, laugh, even when things really get you down, it is truly amazing the difference it can make to a bad day.

1. All of us admit and own up to ourselves our contribution to the mess. If we are honest we won’t think hard to find the part we have played or omitted to play.
2. Decide decide decide! To build good relations with all other Zimbabweans and to become part of the solution and not part of the problem.
3. Engage our minds in unity to find solutions. Ask ourselves “what is my contribution to the solution?”

Prison, maybe, but even prison has hopeful people, I know some of them. My husband was arrested, but their attitude was “make the best of a bad thing” 17 people in one holding cell, 4 blankets on a cold floor, mosquitoes and they talked and sang. They came out smiling.

No one person can bring down a great country like Zimbabwe and no one man or woman can build it up. Everyone has a part to play, yes Everyone.

Life is what you make it, this was the first thought that came to mind. It is a struggle yes, but the struggle is made worse if we have a pessimistic attitude. We are in a position to make the change, to all we touch, to all we do. I have been teased recently because I have been eating more veggies and fish, I haven’t eaten this healthy in a long time! Whenever I have the opportunity, I buy what I can, from vendors in the local flea market, I buy avocado’s, tomatoes, onions and potatoes, cabbage, etc. I haven’t had oil for a while, a margarine, milk and bread is a luxury. When we travel, I buy from street sellers, often a sack of potatoes, oranges etc. Life is not as easy as we have previously had it, but we can still make it work. A great deal is your attitude, in our positions we need to be positive, we need to be an example. Whining and complaining does nothing but add to stress levels, yes, we have much to complain about, we can also complain about the healthcare, lack of drugs etc, we can complain about the pensioners – has anyone recently been to a home to see what they can do to help? A visitor makes one person or many so much happier for a little while. Many of these people are far worse off than we are, they have no friends or family here, or if they do have family, the family don’t like to visit because of the guilt they feel afterwards . . .

We live in a throw away society, how about we recycle and we become a society that is no longer a rubbish pit, but a proud and thriving community.

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