A NEW ZIMBABWE (THE FIRST STEPS) - DAY 8
Saturday, 25 November
ATT: People of Zimbabwe & anyone else around the world who has witnessed the events of the past week or so...
So the little nation-baby that has been reborn as #newzimbabwe has taken its first few steps. A week ago it learned how to crawl. On Tuesday it was pushing itself up to sitting. And yesterday, watched by millions, it took its first steps. This is no ordinary baby. This is the wildebeest of babies... From 0-60mph in just over a week... unheard of.
After hearing President Garwe (ironic that Garwe auto-corrects to Grace...try it!) addressing the world at his inauguration yesterday, I guess I share the thoughts of the majority of Zimbabweans: he has said all the right things, but let's wait & see...
He has put his foot on the threshold of the Path of Light, but the actions over the coming weeks will reveal how far down we're going to wander. The #newzimbabwe is poised to leap into the unknown, into a wholly new space, either way this thing plays out. And none of us can predict what that looks like outside of our hopes and dreams. Futures are created when we act on the learnings of our past & present...
And so I would briefly like to reflect on the happenings of the past week or two here so as to jot down some notes in the Little Black Book of Human Learning...
1. A country that for decades has seemingly been at rock-bottom, at the very end of its tether... has emerged from a fairytale past fortnight as a model for others to follow.
Not because of the actions of the military (although there is also a massive learning there - that armed forces can help initiate change sans the "armed" part) or the War Veterans.
Nor because of the actions or words of a handful of leaders from within the ruling party, from the opposition, from civil & religious groups.
For sure, these all helped to prepare the stage... but I truly believe even they were overwhelmed & shocked at just how full the stage became as - by the hundreds of thousands - ordinary Zimbabweans emerged from their bubble of fear & paranoia, and decided to make this thing bigger than a political faction-fight, or a #notacoup, bigger even than ousting a long-standing dictator... but rather to stand together as a common species on earth just wanting a better life.
No matter what happens from here on forward in Zim, the past that was these last 8 or 9 days was very special.
And so there is Zim Learning Point #1 -
Humans are a social species. We work better in groups. We achieve more in unison. And there is not one case in history of the one overcoming the many forever. Not. One.
2. The thing that has hit most Zimbabweans involved in the past week or so - and probably many of those watching from afar - is the completely non-violent manner in which this change has been brought about. The peaceful, smiling, mostly very loving way in which the masses 'revolted' (such a terrible term for what actually happened).
Bees & termites, chimps, ants & fungi - these are other social organisms in nature that humans sometimes refer to when looking at the question of how do we survive in such numbers on a planet with limited resources. And they are good models for that question. But they are all quite aggressive and warlike in the way they defend themselves or attack others. Humans like to think they have to be warlike & aggressive like that. They say its in our nature. I say BS to that...
And this past 2 weeks showed that passive resistance can be a fully human trait. A threat of force without the force itself was there, sure. But in the end it was the shear numbers of those not-in-uniform. The shear power of the hugging, smiling, flag waving, singing, dancing ordinary masses that tipped the scales towards this point now where Zimbabwe could very possibly head in a new direction.
So, Zim Learning Point #2 -
Violence & aggression are not necessarily our default natural human traits. We can do Peace. We can do Happy. In fact, we do it pretty damn well when we need to.
3. Zimbabwe this past week has been big news. Big, good news. And for good reason. (Above two points are surely enough reason for the people of planet earth to sit up & take notice). But as of yesterday evening, the world's news was once again smirched with bombings in Egypt, Black Friday mayhem, Trump's latest antics, Brexit's latest hurdle, blah blah blah...
It seems we have a need to always find the worst in & about our species and celebrate that. When good news like Zimbabwe comes along, people are excited, but all too quick to point out the potential negative outcomes, the doom & gloom of what might happen. Few outside of these borders can ever imagine how much this 'good news' has affected the people of Zimbabwe, how much it can & has helped the collective psyche through a very depressing & sickening last decade or two.
So, Zim Learning Point #3 -
Good begets good. Bad begets bad. The more we highlight the good, the more we will Feel Good. The more we feel good, the more likely we are to Do Good. And only when the majority of humans in the world start Doing More Good, will we truly see scenes & actions in other parts of the world that we saw in Zimbabwe recently.
4. We all have our monsters to confront. We all have our 37-year old dictatorships. We all have something that needs to be Changed for the Better.
Not just as countries (lets be honest - the time is rapidly approaching when national borders become very blurred).
Not just as tribes, or religious groups, or civil or ethnic groups.
But also internally - as individuals within this social species.
If only we could each confront our inner dictators, our inner misfiring systems, our inner Zimbabwes... if only we could all learn that the way to do this is through a deep-rooted connection we have with each other as a species, and with our planet as a home... well then I have to believe (yes of course, with raging rose-tinted goggles on...) that Better can be Achieved, for all.
So, Zim Learning Point #4 -
Inner Change can totally lead to Outward Change. Both in the negative & the positive. If we are all able to change for the Better as individuals, you've got to hope the rest will kind of take care of itself...
5. The one massive change that you can sense around the country at the moment, in all her people... is a lightness (weight not color), a sense of common purpose & well, I guess... common love.
Smiling & waving have always been truly African gestures, but this past week they are reinforced with a look, something in the eyes of the people which is more than relief, more than excitement or anticipation.
More than the immediate joy of the moment.
It is a sense of I-see-you-because-you-see-me... the REAL me. No veil.
It is so tangible that Mr Mnangagwa himself said these very words on his return to the country on Wednesday evening.
So then, Zim Learning Point #5 -
May Zim's Little Tale of Love & Hope bring us all to a greater realization in the power we have - collectively & as individuals - to bring a little more love & hope into this world, as short-lived & transient as that may be.
Let's truly "see" each other. Because in seeing, we realize that love always wins...
6. To counter all I've been waffling on about this past week - humans are not, by default, a very optimistic or positive species. When you consider our collection of collective human horrors over history, it's almost impossible not to be anything other than a realist, bordering pessimist.
And that is understandable.
Who'd want to plant all their hopes on us; who'd want to believe in a species that can commit the tragic crimes of Aleppo, Auschwitz, the Amazon, & atom bombs. Being optimistic is a task, a chore, and a damn difficult one at that. Trying to find the common good in humankind, let alone find anything to love there, is oftentimes near impossible.
But then so was what happened in Zim this past week or so - near impossible. But when millions of people got a sniff of The Possible last week, and got out on the streets on Saturday... well, let's just say The Possible kicked the shit out of The Impossible.
So then, Zim Learning Point #6 (& the last for now as this is turning into an essay...) -
When considering the alternatives, humans should always choose Optimism, Hope, Belief, The Possible, The Unlikely... over the far-easier, far less-life-changing real-er life of Impossibility.
And so I would like to end off this open letter, and indeed this stream of posts... to all who have witnessed & wondered at the miracle of the past week or so in Zim with a big thank you. Not from me to you. But rather from you to you, from us to us.
Just by getting excited, by joining the marches & the celebrations, by shedding a tear or three, by smiling or dancing or drinking yourself into happy oblivion... just by watching or partaking in something that no-one ever thought would be possible - by realizing that we can do things like this... this is something we all need to be thankful for. This is far bigger than a little land-locked country at the bottom of Africa...