By Garikai Mananje- Unfortunately it is something that we all grow up in.
Something that is installed in us from birth. A dangerous culture that we follow as Africans, particularly Zimbabweans.
Something that we have accepted, a system that is passed on from generation to generation. A life of competition.
We are taught to measure success by our position in respect to others instead of the actual results from our efforts.
I remember when i was doing my primary education, the first question back home on end of term closing day was “waita number ani?” (what class position are you?).
My parents were more concerned about my position than my subject perfomance. They would punish me if I did not make it into the top 5, even with excellent grades.
They would celebrate and reward me if I came out tops even with poor grades. I remember clearly when i brought my report book home with a 40% mark in Mathematics and he was like “Why did u fail maths?”
My answer was, “But dad i am the highest”… and that was it. He smiled and congratulated me. “Thats my boy… akunda vese.” meaning you have beaten everyone.
I failed but because i was number one, it was a success to him and to me as well.
Recently, i was talking to a friend of mine, a teacher at one of the rural schools. I asked her why they were staying away from work.
Her answer was shocking. “The government is not recognising us. They are giving police and army more than half of our salary yet we are all civil servants.”
To me, it was clear that she is fighting a good fight but for the wrong reason. She is much more worried about being given less than a soldier than being given what she deserves as a qualified teacher.
A police officer or a soldier can go in the streets and beat up anyone who goes against the government not because he is earning enough but because he is earning more than other civil servants.
Having the knowledge that he is earning more than a teacher, who is much more educated than him, at its own is a motivating factor.
He doesn’t care whether the amount is enough to make him escape from extreme poverty he is stuck in. Because he is number one, he is comfortable and will defend the government.
In the barracks he is told “If u let these people win and take over, there will be a new government and you will be earning less than these teachers.”
Those words are enough for him to kill anyone who calls for change of government. He doesn’t even realise its much better for him to earn less than everyone but being able to leave a better life with that amount. All he wants is being number one.
Politicians have mastered this pattern and use it as a weapon to divide people, while they enjoy power and loot resources meant for everyone. The earlier we realise its not about getting more than the other but about getting enough, the better.
The earlier we realise we are being used and come together as a nation irregardless of our professions, political affiliation, age, gender and origin to fight these greedy politicians, the better.
The earlier we abort the life of unnecessary competition and consider whats good for our future and future generations the better.
The quicker we realise the divide and rule system is affecting all of us, the best. Let’s all know that the same politicians we are looking forward to to solve our problems are exactly the ones who created them.
ps.Garikai is a Human Rights Activist who writes in his own capacity.