IN the TED Talk “The danger of a single story,” prolific Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks of how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a single story”.
She says of when she began to write as a child: “All my characters were white and blue-eyed. They played in the snow. They ate apples. And they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out. Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria. We didn’t have snow. We ate mangoes. And we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to.”
Adichie’s early writing was influenced by a single story. A foreign story.
In Zimbabwe, we have also been victims of a single story. And boy, how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of this single story.
This is why we support the call by traditional leaders for citizens to embrace the Gukurahundi community engagements programme launched by President Mnangagwa on Monday at State House in Bulawayo.
Traditional leaders on Monday released the Manual on Community Engagement Process by Chiefs on the Gukurahundi Issue, which will guide them when conducting public hearings.
The manual provides step-by-step procedures that chiefs have to undertake as they conduct the hearings. For example, the manual says the best way of inviting communities to hearings is by using local languages.
As we report in this publication, the launch of the programme paves way for chiefs to conduct public hearings in their respective communities.
The hearings will allow members of the public, particularly victims, an opportunity to air their views and suggest possible solutions in a bid to attain peace-building, reconciliation, restoration and development of cultural values. The hearings will help develop a national narrative on the Gukurahundi experience.
A national narrative on the country’s painful past is long overdue. Lives were lost, families were disrupted and the nation was divided. But the story of what really happened is not that of the victims. Non-victims who have commercialised Gukurahundi have taken control of the narrative.
The public hearings will allow victims and witnesses to speak for themselves. Homegrown solutions will come out of the process, instead of foreign ones.
Zimbabweans must not be fooled. There are powerful nations out there that would love to impose solutions through their proxies in the country.
If we allow them to take charge of the narrative, all the characters will be “white and blue-eyed”. We will be forced to eat apples instead of the mangoes that we know.
Monday’s launch was a culmination of engagements between President Mnangagwa and traditional leaders from the Matabeleland region who were given the mandate to resolve the Gukurahundi issue.
Let’s all take heed of the call by chiefs to embrace the Gukurahundi community engagements programme. Let’s support our traditional leaders as they lead us in crafting a national narrative on the Gukurahundi conflict.
The single story on Gukurahundi was never meant to help in peacebuilding, reconciliation and restoration. It was meant to divide us.
Article Source: The Chronicle