Friday, 23 October 2015

Samora Machel 2015 Memorial Lecture Presentations

Generational Perspectives on Samora’s Legacy – Embracing a Revolutionary Future 

Contributors: Paidamoyo Muzulu, Terence Chimhavi, Koliwe Nyoni-Majama

By Terence Chimhavi

Today, 19 October, 2015, marks exactly 29 years to the day President Samora Machel of Mozambique was killed in yet unclear circumstances, though of course the greatest suspicion has been placed on apartheid South Africa. He was 53 years and had been in power for 11 years.

As a Zimbabwean, and from my born-free perspective, I never had an opportunity to see or meet Cde Machel; when he passed on I was only a few years old. But growing up, I came to know more about this foreigner just through the sheer recognition and appreciation, albeit posthumously, that was so apparent within the broader Zimbabwean society. 

My understanding of the legacy that Samora Machel left has become deeper over the years, as I have sought to really understand why a person, a foreigner for that matter, can be such a celebrated figure in a foreign country. It is this interaction with history as told by others that has expanded my appreciation of this legacy that we celebrate today.

Today, as we commemorate this life well lived, there are a number of things that stand out about this great African revolutionary. I associate Cde Machel with organizational excellence particularly for his role firstly in the independence struggle of his country Mozambique and also his role in the bloc known as the frontline states. Indeed, he led from the front in defeating the Portuguese colonial hegemony in Mozambique, which victory became a strategic turnaround and precursor to the eventual demise of the Rhodesians.

This is coupled with orchestrating the revolutionary self-sacrifice that was shown by the people of Mozambique, who having got their independence earlier were able to understand that you can never enjoy your independence to the full when your neighbour is still in bondage. It takes great organizational and persuasive guile to convince a people to sacrifice for another, moreso given the poor state of their country at that particular time. We all know and acknowledge today how Mozambique became a strategic base for liberation fighters fighting the regime of Ian Smith in Rhodesia.

Though today Chimoio and Nyadzonia stand out as key low moments in the struggle when the settler regime, sought to inflict collateral damage on its direct opponents and those offering them support by launching an attack on foreign territory; the truth of the matter is that the people of Mozambique suffered a lot more through incursions into their territory by both Rhodesian and South African forces.

There is a lot to learn and much more to say from the relationship that existed then and still exists to this day between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Even Dr Thomas Mapfumo acknowledges in his song ‘Zimbabwe-Mozambique’ these strong brotherly and sisterly ties.

The challenge I find today and I have also seen for many of my own contemporaries – the youth of today – is what lessons we can take in building our future from the story of Zimbabwe-Mozambique and as told from the Machel perspective.

From Zimbabwe’s current context, with its challenges, and told from various angles, there are a number of lessons to be drawn from the Machel legacy.

1. African brotherhood – as defined then by Machel and his contemporaries in the frontline states, which definition I content still remains relevant today – still stands as a critical pillar in addressing the various challenges that Africans across the continent face. Though these may differ according to local national contexts and conditions, the story of the frontline states still stands as an inspiration to how working together as Africans is the greatest panacea to Africa’s common problems.

2. No African country can claim developmental success when other African countries have not attained the same – at least a basic level of development. Today the continent boasts of extremes in terms of poverty and opulence. Even here in Zimbabwe, this is true. And the xenophobia that has become an occasional problem in South Africa and other countries is testimony to how the inequality scourge re-invents itself as a problem in perpetuity.

3. Genuine collective development will only be driven and delivered by the younger generation. This is not to say the elders have no role to play. But a cursory look at how the liberation struggle played out in Zimbabwe and other frontline states, Zimbabwe and Mozambique included, is testimony to the power in the youth. Unfortunately today, we have that unfortunate situation where the youth are a disjointed lot and cannot identify what the common challenge(s) is/are and how they can over-ride their differences to address their common challenges.

Let me end by thanking the organizers of this event, the Committee of the Peoples Charter, for creating the space to honour one of Africa’s finest revolutionaries. It is an honour as a young person, to be able to share valuable lessons we all get from this foreigner who sacrificed a lot for other ‘foreigners’. And as was his great catch-phrase, ‘áluta continua – the struggle indeed continues’.

I thank you.

Nationalism and feminism: a time to define our role in our ‘new’ African struggle

By Koliwe Majama

My presentation will focus on the socialist connections between national ‘liberation’ and women’s emancipation. This presentation, I hope, will ignite a flame in Zimbabwe’s feminist movement, and particular in the younger section of that community of Zimbabwean women especially. This is obviously the recognition that as young women we are obliged to have an active definitive role within our national socio, economic and political struggles.

The significance of our participation, as women, in todays struggle should be linked to the acknowledgement of the symbolism of the role that young Zimbabwean women played during our liberation struggle. There is need to pick from where they left and carry forward what will be generation continuity of equality for men and women.

In my presentation, I will make reference to, Samora Machels, socialist perspectives on the significance of women within, at the time, liberation movements- making the linkages within our context today – our current status, challenges and making proposals on a way forward in this path of redefinition and action. I will however, in making the linkages, also make reference to other African experiences and writings to put into perspective why it is important that we are having this conversation today.

Samoras’ legacy is evidently and undoubtedly relevant to us a Zimbabwean people, particularly when you revisit the chronicles of The Chimurenga; His role as an individual – and the overall sacrifices made by the people of Mozambique in contributing to the Zimbabwe that we are today.  Let me hasten to say that as a social democratic movement, the CPC, we have commemorated today consistently since our formation as recognition of not only that role in the context of the liberation, but the relevance of his words and action in an entirely different time and place.

So what is significant about women’s participation in the liberation war in Zimbabwe? It is important to note that during the liberation war, Zimbabwean women rose above the traditionally subordinated gender positions in order to fight equally with men in the struggle for national independence. And for this they were heralded internationally. 

At independence Robert Mugabe acknowledged this when he acknowledged that Zimbabwe had learnt through the liberation that the country learnt through the liberation struggle that success and power are possible when men and women are unites.

The attainment of Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, ironically, coincided with the United Nations decade for women, and subsequently the mid-term Women’s conference in Copenhagen, which in actual fact made the socialist connections between national liberation and women’s emancipation. It focused on women in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Much earlier in Guinea Bissau, Amilar Cabral had argued that a that a revolution would not be complete without the social transformation of both men and women, and that women had to fight for and earn their right to equality with men.

So the big question now is - With all that recognition and socialist feminist hope for women in Southern Africa is this reflective of the equality, confidence and determination today – years after the gaining of national independence?

Samora argued at the time that the liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, the guarantee of its continuity and the precondition for its victory.

The answer is no!

Broadly speaking Zimbabwean women today are probably more subordinated in todays struggle for a democratic Zimbabwe than they were fighting for a liberated one. The women that we celebrate today as liberation sheroes – were young at the time Zimbabwe was at war. 

The question is, and in reference to Samoras words, was that participation guaranteed to continue? To what extent does their participation as young women influence our participation today as young Zimbabwean women?

1.       Tokenism vs. Award (Amilcar speaks to earned rights to equality) – The case of capacity in parliament

2.       Interaction and mentorship by female comrades – The case of Freedom Nyamubaya and Margret Dongo/ Wrings of Takura Zhangazha on the power that is yielded by Grace Mugabe/Joice Mujuru (Samora speaks to continuity)

3.       Youth movements – juvenile  (in political parties) The case of Hon. Annastacia Ndlovu and young womens’ participation  (in social movements)

4.       Opinions on socio, economic and political issues vs. utilization of more readily available spaces. (The internet) – Her Zimbabwe experience on women and inboxing.

Like it or not, patriarchy is going to take longer to deal with. Women no matter how empowered are, without breaking the barriers we will still feel subjugated and not publicly have an opinion on potentially controversial issues – and this is despite the many opportunities that we have been offered – which include Education/ employment opportunities/voting rights/participation in ‘most spheres’.

But the socialist feminist perspectives which were key in defining the women’s liberation and equality within their the context of a war – that is in liberation movements should take a shift today so that we are able to extend/ move forward what they began – for generational continuity.