Nothing was wrong with the name Rhodesia, after all

It is on record that changing the name of this country from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe is regarded as landmark. There had to be a distinction, after the blacks had taken over from white rulers. The change made everyone feel that, indeed, there had been some new dispensation in Zimbabwe. But, was there any value that was added, after giving Rhodesia a new name?

We have to give credit when due. The late former President, Mugabe, displayed astute statesmanship, in fusing the divided military forces into one. He used those who fought against him, to make that task achievable. Clearly, the problems of insurgency were minimized, at that crucial period, in 1980. It is sad, though, to acknowledge that the same man failed to properly handle skirmishes between ZIPRA and ZANLA—leading to the dreaded Gukurahundi debacle story.

During 1980, the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, displayed wisdom—treating his erstwhile former enemies, as supporters. Although what transpired later, revealed the man’s true colors and not what was portrayed in his maiden speech. His major weakness was on crafting wisdom as synonymous with himself, rather than detaching wisdom from himself. However, that is a postulate, easily dealt with, when handled as a different topic.

The point is that in 1980 the former president displayed astute wisdom in fusing the antagonistic forces into one. Such wisdom is in treating people as humans—not, necessarily, according to their background. The former president was dead right, in recognizing that the Rhodesian armies were more disciplined than the former guerilla armies.

He could have, at that time, tasked the ZANLA commanders to take-over the military forces. But that could have potentially led the country into real chaos, at that particular time. Inevitably, we would have experienced, either a coup, or insurgency. Such a condition was averted by conferring responsibility on those having been familiar with disciplines of conventional forces.

The tone of his maiden speech wisely focused on reconciliation, in general. Peace—necessary for developing a country ravaged in war—was given priority over ideological differences. It is also necessary to point out, at this stage, that one cannot talk of reconciliation, only to later invoke reprisal when it suits. Reconciliation implies commitment to addressing causes of division without consideration of later invoking malice.

Of course, it could not be possible to acquire egalitarian conditions at independence, where suspicions were inevitable. This is where the likes of Mandela could not be understood by most black people. The condition of South Africa, being still divided on racial lines, cannot be blamed on the late former President Nelson Mandela.

After attaining independence, South Africa was no longer bound by restrictions of racial discrimination. Of course, black Africans needed to raise their level of education, to be incorporated among the privileged whites. Although, educational programs could not possibly be implemented over-night. But education needed to be considered as supreme over everything else, at attaining independence. This refers to education in its proper definition as adding value to ordinary people.

The whites needed to be educated to appreciate the stupidity of racial discrimination. While the blacks needed to be educated to appreciate that they were not inferior to whites. The most important datum being that the future of any country should be regarded as important for all races. Good things emanating from the whites were to be extricated from what was bad. The same consideration being applied to the blacks and other races.

Nelson Mandela was internationally regarded as an icon of African politics, due to taking away wisdom from himself. While accessible for use by anyone, wisdom remains independent. This is what eluded the late former president Robert Mugabe. While he initially displayed wisdom, he failed to separate it from himself, at the beginning of his rule. The result is that he died a bitter man.

The wisdom displayed at independence, needed to be sustained and manifested in other areas—including trivializing change of institutional names. Wisdom appeals in trivializing possible value in changing institutional names. The shallow-minded people assume there is value in name-change, yet there is none, whatsoever. This country might have not changed to the state of decay, had the name Rhodesia not changed to Zimbabwe.

It was the name-change that caused the uneducated, but best minds from the white community to assume that nothing was left for them. Hence they decided to leave for other countries. This proves that the whites were not, necessarily, more intelligent than the blacks. All things being equal, the less privileged blacks, lost opportunities to learn from their white counterparts.

Out of emotion, rather than reason, most blacks were happy to see the whites leaving in droves. They did not realize the value that most of those whites held. It is true that most of them had racist tendencies. But, there was no need to place value on racism. A wise person remains focused, even when dealing with a racist individual.

I suppose black Zimbabweans, now domiciled in predominantly white-ruled countries like USA and UK, can attest to experiencing racism in those countries? But, I suppose, it is better to tolerate racism in your own country than in a foreign country? The problem starts, when according value in racism. Out of inferiority complex, most blacks tend to get affected by white racism. But when one holds full confidence in him/herself, one cannot be affected by racist tendencies, at all.

Racism is a condition of stupidity and ignorance. If getting affected by racist insults, one might also be holding the proclivity to be racist. Otherwise, handling racism cannot be a problem, to the truly educated, whose minds are superior.  An educated person is superior to an ignorant person.  See [Happiness and influence on other people].

Factually, the blacks were colonized by the British. But there is no wisdom in getting fixated on the negative aspects of colonialism. There are a lot of benefits that came with colonization. It takes only the free thinkers to extricate themselves from the shackles of mental colonialism. Educational benefits were brought by colonialism, including privileges of associating with a country, well-advanced in politics and governance.

There could not have been anything wrong with copying most positive things, associated with British governance. What was most important was adopting only those things considered suitable for the African environment. Independence, virtually, confers the ability to choose what is good, when discarding what is unacceptable. Historically, the name Rhodesia, ought to have perfectly suited our historical background, better than the adopted Zimbabwe.

Of course, there are whites who point fingers at Zimbabwe’s failings, as proving that blacks are inferior to whites. But, that displays ignorance—as such whites may not be different from those inciting xenophobic violence in South Africa. The racial outlook of a person does not necessarily make him bad or good. This is just as character cannot be defined by the racial outlook of a person.

Of course, the background has a lot of impact on an individual—making education a prerequisite over everything else. A properly educated person does not base decisions on racial outlook. Any person, whether black or white, has the potential to be good, as long as exposed to proper education. All humans were created in God’s image, regardless of race. What makes a person bad is acquisition of wrong education—which includes basing value on racial considerations.

Good education seeks to improve other people’s lives, regardless of race—rather than invalidate them. A properly educated person takes the responsibility to help the uneducated to also access principles of human dignity. For instance, those who advocated for changing the country’s Rhodesian name to Zimbabwe, were uneducated. Their support came from the equally uneducated majority. The problem emanates from associating education with mere holding a University College degree.

The agitation to change names—considered as reversing colonialism—was, actually, a confirmation of inferiority by those concerned. To them, victory implied changing the name Rhodesia to Zimbabwe. But, when one looks at what transpired, such victorious assumption turned out to be hollow, but hot air. A victorious person shows something of value, as proof.

You cannot claim victory when the majority of those you lead clamor to be admitted in countries of the same former colonizers. Nevertheless, the uneducated will continue to claim victory, even without anything to show. In short, the uneducated people get driven by emotion, more than the ability to make intelligent reasoning.

It seems, in Zimbabwe, we have spent the entire forty years changing street names, towns and provinces. But forgetting to change the fundamentals that ought to sustain our dignity. What value do we pass on to the next generation? An intelligent grade-two scholar could, actually, expose the authorities, by posing a simple question: “What was the reason for fighting the whites?”

When attempting to justify such stupid fighting, the authorities would include preservation of cultural heritage? But what value is cultural heritage, if children grow to find the country in huge and unexplained indebtedness against them? The question on the necessity of cultural heritage will continue to harass the intelligent of the next generation, for the unforeseeable future.

Focusing on name-change, rather than changing things of substance is, basically, a display of shallow-mindedness. Though appealing to those taking comfort in being regarded as inferior, thereby, giving the subjugating whites, an undeserved honor. The question that needs to be intelligently answered, first and foremost, is on whether blacks view themselves on equal terms with whites? I suppose, it ought to only be the racist whites, viewing themselves as superior to blacks?

Fighting for independence is different from fighting against racial dominance. In my view, fighting for independence implies assumption of responsibility. This is contrary to fighting for dominance, which leaves issues of responsibility unattended. This is why I particularly admire the wisdom portrayed by the late former president Mugabe—then the prime minister of Zimbabwe. He conferred responsibility of key positions to his former white foes—in military, police and internal security.

The late former president, at that time had realized the responsibility that lay ahead. As the person in charge, he knew that the task needed those with requisite experience, for the country to move forward. There was no way that those former Rhodesian commanders could avoid doing what was expected of them, under the circumstances.

Temporarily, though, what the then Prime Minister Mugabe did at that time, allayed fears and skepticism from the majority of the whites. Sadly, the late former President could not maintain such noble and visionary leadership. The mettle was lost, leaving the country to slide into chaos, as currently prevailing.

Populism became more appealing to him, than the visionary leadership displayed at the beginning. Apparently, by pleasing the populace, his intention was aiming at consolidating power in the next general election? The naivety of the general populace was manipulated in assuming that changing street names and cities was nobler than other things of substance. Nevertheless, the right-thinking people should regard populism as bad politics.

Populism focuses on self, rather than what is good for the general populace. The roots of corruption were initiated right at that point. Basically, there are two philosophies that determine the destiny of any individual, in this life. The one that leads to calamitous destination, is focusing on self-benefit, rather than benefitting the majority. The one that leads to prosperous destiny focuses on benefiting the majority, rather than benefiting self.

The late former President died a bitter man, having been betrayed by people who had been entrusted with his security. However, the truth remains in that the course he later took in those formative years, inevitably, determined his destiny. The law of cause and effect suggests that it is impossible to expect anything else, other than what is propagated at the beginning.

While many people view it as unfortunate, that the late former president, died a bitter man, the same applies to the country he led. In other words, this country is dead, as to need a new beginning, rather than continue from where he left. The right thing is, obviously, to combat corruption—starting with casting away ideas that project populism.

Indeed, the country needs a visionary leadership, based on pragmatism, rather than populism, more than ever before. This country can easily improve, even if that means reversing its name from Zimbabwe to Rhodesia. The application of a philosophy that benefits the majority, rather than self, should be regarded ahead of political expediency.

Corruptible activities come about, as long as leaders display self-centeredness, rather than altruism, in their leadership. There is nothing impossible with pursuing the altruistic philosophy—unpopular, only to the self-centered beneficiaries. Although, well-proven that there cannot be any sustainable benefit in corruption, the uneducated are sold to it.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.

The Print copy is now available at for $13.99

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