Introduction: “Money is just an agreement. Money only has value because people believe it has value. It is something that we create through our agreements. You can say that money is a story. It’s the symbols that we interpret in a certain way, and that means that they’re valuable. So why have we agreed to create a system of value that is the enemy of all of the beautiful things we want to do?” – Charles Eisenstein: Sacred Economics and Beyond
In Africa it is as if something is always under construction, yet the building is hardly ever finished.
‘- so much beauty and yet so much pain…” – So croons the African American Rhythm & Blues man. This paradoxical lyric about the world we live in could just as well be referring solely to the continent called Africa. It is arguably the most gang-raped and the most severely violated of all places in the known Earth. Even though no one can monopolise or even compare the share of suffering with another, for surely the whole planet is clearly a place of immeasurable and unmitigated misery. The place where mankind was first conceived takes the proverbial cake, hands down.
One Reggae singer wails in with a lamentation: “Africa is the richest place/ but still has the poorest race…” This is a serious existential crisis and many more singers, Poets and novelist and not to mention academics and development scholars have written tomes about the subject of Africa’s ‘under-development’, yet none have come up with a solution that resonates through out all the tribes, nations and every individual in this continent. The repetitive calls for unification and the eloquent prescriptions and descriptions of Africa’s cultural unity seem to have landed on deafened ears.
How can the richest place remain the home of the poorest race? It just doesn’t make any sense. Are African not as hardworking as other races? Have we not been able to unlearn the mental shackles from the centuries of slavery, apartheid and the emasculation of our forefathers, the rape of our foremothers?
A young man has recently sent me a message that reads “…We should not look at Africa as being backwards, but rather we should look at it as being preserved for US (Africans) to develop it better/accordingly…”. It is not indicated where this is quoted from, but it is obvious that it comes from someone who is very optimistic about the destiny of the Mother continent.
Another Rhythm & Blues singer cries “the place where mankind was born/is now neglected and torn…torn apart…” This are just a few of the indications that many are not just aware of the plight of this beloved land, but they are eager to see a change, perhaps a radical transformation that will suely bring about Africa’s renewal.
This is a matter that we can no longer afford to sweep under the various prevailing political, religious and ideological carpets. We all have to become impatient, creative and effective in bringing about the New African, a people who have a keen insight of what kind of society they want to bestow upon the up coming generations. Africa is everyone’s responsibility just as much as she has been every ones victim, but she cannot afford to play victim forever, there is a time and place allocated for everything and Africa’s time for regeneration is upon us.
Many of the shining lights who have lived and died in order that we all become free and for Africa to be see in a human and divine light have been snuffed out. By bullet or secret ballot, much of our currency and dignity has been stolen. This embezzlement of our life has left us like a field that can hardly be expected to yield the expected fruits; very few seeds can survive our acute form of desertification. Even the seems we do possess have been ‘doctored’; Multi-national gangsters and mass murderers have managed to twist the life inside seeds rendering them inept. The tsetse fly and the shitty-water, the gravel road and the sewerage drain. The death by asphyxiation inside zinc and corrugated iron shacks are still Africa’s lot. W live in a paradise but we are far from heaven. Some say ‘the sickness is in the South but the cure is in the North’.
“We blacks have it to the whitest bone!!!”; So sang my fellow Poets at the Nowadays Poets sessions in Durban, a divine statement if there ever was one. The statement illustrates just how tied to the colonial experience we still are. In these days of Decolonization, an arduous task requiring a multitude of interventions, we need to also invent new languages that speak to what we ought to becoming.
During last year’s election campaign, Tendai Biti from the opposition MDC, characterised the rural areas as ‘reservoirs of poverty’ in need of ‘liquidation’. Such a characterisation of course is a huge generalisation. Any rural policy must take a more differentiated view, and these blogs have offered some data from four communal areas in Masvingo province, contrasting them with their A1 resettlement neighbours. Given the insights offered, what are the implications for rural development policy?
The previous blogs have shown that, on average, communal area households across Masvingo province are asset and income poor, with little surplus produced on-farm, and with limited engagement in agricultural markets, even in relatively good years. Reliance on remittances, off-farm informal work and hand-outs from the state and NGOs is central. There are a few who are making it, but very few; most people are very poor, and with limited land areas and a lack of…
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Social and political relations are central to land and agricultural production. Unlike in the resettlement areas, where new institutions and relations had to be built following land reform, those in the communal areas draw on longer traditions. Like in the resettlements, institutions are often hybrids, combining ‘traditional’ (such as chiefs and headmen) and ‘modern’ (such as village committees and councillors). In the communal areas, party officials and war veterans are less of a feature, although very often party structures have melded with other arrangements; something that is also happening in the resettlements twenty years on.
Informal institutions: the social fabric of rural life
These officially-recognised institutions may however not be the most important. In fact, churches were often referred to as the most important institution, providing support in various ways. Across our sites, the presence of evangelical churches is noticeable. In Mwenezi, the top two churches attended by households…
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