Human behavior is sheepish when considering what happens in the environment. A child gets into a boarding school where there are bullies; he assumes bullying to be normal behavior. That child may turn out to be a bully himself or relent when other people get bullied.
The war of liberation used violence against citizens, leading to the eventual fall of the regime of Ian Smith. The cowed people of Zimbabwe adopted the culture of violence as acceptable. While there are some individuals known to have been at the forefront of Gukurahundi, there are many who passively supported Gukurahundi.
The propaganda that was applied at the time was that Dr. Joshua Nkomo was the sponsor of dissidents. Many people believed in such propaganda, even without checking it for themselves. Similar propaganda was used to murder Jesus Christ, a behavior that an outsider, Governor Pilate, could not understand.
Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and murder.) Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Luke 23:13-21 NIV).
What could it have been that made those Jews desire to see Jesus killed, ahead of the insolent criminal, Barabbas? What is observably true is an emotional charge to kill an innocent person. Jesus prayed for those people, as they did not know what they were doing.
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots (Luke 23:33-34 NIV).
Jesus was speaking from the viewpoint of understanding the insanity existing in humanity. The over twenty thousand killings of innocent people during Gukurahundi did not cause alarm to most people. Thousands, if not millions, thought that purging was justified.
Some people may call such kind of behavior, “mob psychology”. But even without the mob, some people just feel indifferent, until they get into a similar situation, themselves. Lack of education could have much to do with this type of reasoning. By education, I mean as opposed to schooling.
Imagine Honorable Members of the august House of Parliament getting incensed by trivial things such as the yellow attire of the CCC party? Educated people, in my view, are dignified. But a schooled person is only known for annoying his friends by talking about how educated he would be. Such people crave respect, more than deserve respect.
An uneducated person is driven by emotion, more than reasoning. Think of the eight million Jews said to have been killed by Hitler? While Hitler was the mouthpiece, spouting propaganda, others just believed him, assuming the killing was justified. Many abnormal things get passed for normal, even though abnormal.
I had not heard of any President, in the world, forgiving known murderers, until Patrick Kombayi was blatantly shot at, in 1990. The presidential amnesty was granted unashamedly. I assumed there would be an uprising, but only observed things going on as normal.