The Irony of Educated Zimbabweans Suffering From Mental Slavery

If you have had a privileged opportunity to travel extensively around the country in rural Zimbabwe, you probably encountered two recurrently prominent landmarks – schools and grocery shops. 
Rejoice Ngwenya, Man of Truth, Volume 18

If you have had a privileged opportunity to travel extensively around the country in rural Zimbabwe, you probably encountered two recurrently prominent landmarks – schools and grocery shops. 

Of greater interest is the fact that ‘school life’ is an integral aspect of being Zimbabwean. 

Moreover, rural schools are some kind of directional beacons, universal oasis of community convergence. 

As long as you know the name of the nearest school to wherever you’re destined, you will never be lost in any part of Zimbabwe’s rural area. 

They appear in all shapes, sizes and colours – unfortunately also exhibiting a dazzling array of structural decomposition. However, whenever we set our minds to painting our schools, we Zimbabweans don’t waste money on pastel and half-tone colours. 

We go for bold and distinct shades, picking up pigment from an entire rainbow spectrum. Literally within every 10 kilometre radius you will find so and so primary school or this and that secondary school. 

If there’s any obsession that both Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe shared, it has to be school building. The two dictators left a legacy of education that no other African country (I know) is yet to beat.

For one reason or other – ought to be British tradition – main entrances at schools are ornately manicured with brick and mortar sign ‘boards’ of all shapes and sizes. 

It would seem rival schools go out of their way to out-compete each other on the best ‘sculptor’ sign board. 

As an artist myself, I take special interest in the effort schools put in making their entry points ‘grand events’. That said, what strikes me most are the mottos and catchphrases on these sign boards. 

I could be wrong, but one of the most frequently used payoff lines is: ‘Knowledge is Power’. 

According to the world famous electronic-ask-me-anything dictionary, the phrase ‘Knowledge is Power’ is attributed to Sir Francis Bacon’s 1597 published work, Meditationes Sacrae

If “ipsa scientia potestas est”, then it is difficult to understand why rabid critics of colonialism still insists education was meant to oppress and pacify Africans. 

I can understand that the British obsession with theory does not prepare one for practical employment, but we need to give (colonial) Brits credit for their obsession with school. 

Had we been victims of Portuguese colonialism, we would have noticed the difference in matters academic. 

Southern Rhodesia was a haven of intellectual discipline during the federation days. That is why there was a one way migration to Salisbury from Malawi, Zambia and even Mozambique.  

For all intents and purposes, ignorance – read ‘lack of knowledge’ – is a debilitating human weakness. 

However, my experience of being African is that knowledge, on its own, does not necessarily give one political or economic power. 

Ironically, there are some who even insinuate that Zimbabweans are ‘too educated’, thus making it easier for them to be oppressed by one political party for 40 years.  “You guys are too clean to fight dirty”, they postulate. 

Maybe, maybe not. But that is not my point today. I am interested in knowledge as a catalyst for good or effective citizenship.

I can’t recall who introduced me the principles of good citizenship – between Dr Peter Shroeder and Dr Stefan Melnik. These two are/were great German liberals of modern times; good friends of mine at that. 

Knowledge; Enlightenment; Wisdom; Alertness; Participation; Astuteness. 

A citizenry that has all that but allows itself to be dominated by a single political movement for forty years. A citizenry with all that yet allows 13 year olds to be married. 

A citizenry with all that but tosses litter out of moving cars, plants and builds on wetlands. A citizenry of that sort where only 30 per cent of the adult population votes. 

These are glaring manifestations that knowledge is not necessarily power. 

I mean what is the point of having a school every 10 kilometres when a citizenry remains docile and paralysed? 

What ‘knowledge’ and ‘power’ do we Zimbabweans have if we are ‘poor’ yet sitting on gold mines? 

We watch billions of dollars spirited out of the country by irresponsible political cronies – yet claim to be educated. It is a tragedy of gigantic proportions. An oxymoron – educated but stupid! 

Three million of us humiliated across the border only because our ‘education’ cannot create wealth. 

Go to Beitbridge Border Post and see for yourself South African border officials treat our sisters, mothers and aunts like animal excretion. 

Ipsa scientia potestas est, really? In any case, the way our own government treats its teachers complements the whole saga. 

Who can respect your education if you are treated like poo in your own country? 

Here’s my point: it is an abomination to go around gloating about education if we, as Zimbabweans, still remain stuck in feudal 19th century mind sets. 

Knowledge is a function of survival, a weapon of comfort, retribution, opportunistic wealth creation. 

I always give an example – to my young mentees – of an overnight trip from Harare to Perth, Australia. 

It doesn’t matter who I share a seat with – a clergyman, professor, nurse, fire engineer, politician, tech entrepreneur. 

I can bet you my last penny that when we walk out onto the cool breeze of Australian summer; my fellow passenger will shake my hands and say, “Hey, Rejoice. It was nice talking to you. You seem to know everything.” 

Ipsa scientia potestas est. Actually, sorry, I don’t. The power in knowledge is one’s ability to deploy whatever they know to their benefit. 

This is what is missing from today’s generation. They spend years and years in school but are short on functional knowledge. They are engineered for dependency. 

What it simply does is to dis-empower you. You become a miserable, hopeless citizen. 

In essence, they become a boring long distance seat partner ‘knowledgeable’ only in one thing they went to university for. Your qualification doesn’t become power but a disability. 

I have reason to worry about the now young generation. Products of a knowledge less conveyor belt education system with zero capacity to incite a progressive revolution, Educated for oppression. 

Dependent for life. I write about these things, only because mina, I’m a man of truth.

RosGwen24 News
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