Tswibidi/Twabam: An Abstract Take on A Young #Zimbabwe Material Consciousness
11 November 2021

By Takura Zhangazha| So a young Zimbabwean cde in his professional work with me was in conversation explaining how certain things work. He then used a specific turn of phrase about how you realize that everything is sorted.

This was a turn of phrase that related to a popular social media religious influencer called Passion Java. And verbatim he sort of says that when all else is done (as planned) it will be “Tswibidi, Twabam”. It was as funny as it was telling because there is no official language that recognizes such phrases.

Except for the new found language of young Zimbabweans that have a tendency to go with whatever suits their fancy. Upon reflection I realized that while the young cde who assisted me with a specific task did not really take it as seriously as I would, it was a part of his everyday consciousness via language and more significantly, via social media.

And this is a very difficult point to make unless you are an engrossed academic or social media aficionado (please google aficionado).The casual verbal statement of popular or trending phrases is generally indicative of an emerging cultural consciousness that cannot be ignored.

Even if it appears distasteful for some but in reality it is a bit more sophisticated, or even existential (if you are an academic that has Sartre or Beauvoir) tendencies. What it pointed to was an emerging hegemonic narrative about what Zimbabwean society is and what it can be.

Not only from the lenses of those that would be at the material/intellectual infancy of their lives but also those that would prefer a more ordered approach to what they consider ‘progress’ in Zimbabwean society.

It is a narrative that no longer resides in libraries let alone a critical consciousness revolutionary assumption of what our society should look like in the future. It’s a reality based on its own reality. In the moment. And I will explain this within the context of a Zimbabwean reality.

On a number of occassions I have had abstract conversations with colleagues and cdes about what it is that informs the contemporary Zimbabwean consciousness. In most of these chats the answers have hovered around at least three aspects; materialism, pursuit of multiple recognitions and fashionability or high individualization of opinions (which is linked to the latter).

It is a regrettable narrative of an assumption of material arrival. And this is across all classes (bourgeoisie , comprador bourgeoisie, middle class, working class, peasantry) . Or assumptions of what would be lived realities.

But this is where we are. Something that Prof Masipula Sithole would have referred to as an assumption that we could all live the ‘good life’. Which basically meant an urban tranquil existence while comparatively looking down at those that never ‘arrived’.

But back to the young cde who was using language that dominates social media. All based on influencers and their perspective on things. I admit that I do not know if he did it deliberately or by default. But what was clear is that it was almost part of his natural being as he spoke. His impressionability could have been taken as abstract.

The reality of the matter is that it is what a lot of young Zimbabweans are thinking and feeling at the moment. At least those that have access to electricity and social media. Be they in country or in the Diaspora. What we however need to realise is that this consciousness is as ephemeral as it would be ahistorical. Social media influencers invariably will be here today and gone tomorrow.

Including those that claim to be prophets or people with access to money that are followed by elaborate, choreographed arrivals in Ghetto streets. There is an interesting perspective to this.

This being that we have to understand a specific reality about how young Zimbabweans view their society and their futures. In the main this is about materialism, opulence in context and/or departure from a metaphoric cesspit that would be Zimbabwe.

Something which I find completely understandable particularly given the biased leanings of our mainstream education system which is designed to admire other peoples’ societies.The challenge then becomes how we re-emerge from a national consciousness that while touting liberation and Pan Africanism assumes that we need specific historical gazes to be regarded as human.

That is a task that is as hard as it is time bound by way of age and/or a lack of understanding of the need for a new historical progressive consciousness. The task(s) ahead for Zimbabwe and its cohort of parents or people still enabling the next generation to flourish is to be a bit more realistic and perhaps re-examine our own individualistic values. We need to look a bit more inward.

Our children are our collective children. The more we try and assume an outward presence to their being. The more they become distant from us or what we consider our values. As an abstract but relatively personal conclusion, I will most certainly teach my children that in part, whatever their individual decisions, they are within their right to be here, at home, in Zimbabwe.

Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com