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Zimbabwe’s “I am not the one” syndrome

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Another holiday treat was getting to see Invictus, the movie. I then got a copy of it, and a copy of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk’ biography.

In the movie, Mr Mandela tells the captain of the South African Rugby team, that during his many years in prison, the poem inspired him to, “stand when all he wanted to do was lie down.” However, the biography makes no mention of this poem so maybe it was just some ‘licence’. (I was about to say poetic licence, but that was just too corny.) Maybe Mandela did not feel that way.

However, what really interested me was the contrast – this poem and it’s line “I am the captain of my soul”, vs. that defining Zimbabwean phrase, “handidi”. (I am not the one). Yes, there is a contrast there (even I am not that stupid), but what does it mean? What are the ramifications? What does it mean for Zimbabwe?

There is the first comparison between Mandela – being in charge. Of himself, first. Of his destiny, his environment, his achievements, his family (45 million I think he said). On the other hand, typical Zimbabwean, with the hand out. Begging. Begging for food. Begging for money. Begging for someone to change his government. Begging for a ride. Begging for dignity.

How often have I been asked, “why doesn’t the UN do something?” To which, the response rings loud and clear in my head, “why don’t YOU do something?”

How many times have I been told I must buy something from the vendor. “I’ve got to get bus fare to get home.” Again, my response, “Then you need to sell something that is worth buying, something I want.”

How often have we been told, ‘it is the result of illegal sanctions.” So often that even the MDC now seem to believe they exist (and it is most definitely a lie, there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe).

I have always wanted to believe it was my fault. Why am I not married? Doing something wrong. Why am I unemployed? Did not qualify myself? Why does no one like me? Because I am an asshole. Partly, because I am egotistical. I want to believe (and I want others to believe) I am the most important thing in the world. Partly because (in a practical sense), because I am he only one I can control. So if it someone else’s fault, I am out of control. If it is my fault, I can fix it (or not, in the case of the opposite sex!). So Mandela’s (possible) inspirational poem, rings to me. I want to believe I am the captain of my soul.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

One comment to “Zimbabwe’s “I am not the one” syndrome”

  1. Comment by Victor:

    Two corrections. The poem Invictus is not by Nelson Mandela, it is by a Victorian poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)

    Secondly “Handidi” does not mean -I am not the one, as you qoute it. It means “I dont want”. “Handini, or Handizini is what means “I am not the one.

    Just thought i would iron those two things out.

    On the second front,I don’t think you have exhibited enough depth on the reaction by Zimbabweans to the economic and political crisis. You speak as though you have walked in the shoes of Zimbabweans whose relatives and friends have been victimised and in some cases killed by events pertaining to the two crisis’ mentioned above.

    I do not get your arguments thrust, if you do not see into the fact that the majority of Zimbabweans have averted confrontational politics and sought ways to survive then I guess you live in a bubble that lacks all perspective to what is going on.

    Zimbabweans have long proven they are “captains of their souls” in more ways than one. Enough said