My dearest brother, Prince Noble
My brother Prince, thank you for the prolific and timely letter. Thank you for your brutal honesty. That’s what a real brother does. I receive your letter with humility and thanks.
You took your time to write to me, and I am honoured to put some other things on hold in order to respond to you.
Allow me to first of all admit that I am humbled to note your views towards me and thank you for revealing them to me in such a blunt and succinct way. I always say that for me the most important relationship I have is with the truth. As such, anyone who comes to me with the truth is most welcome. I am sure it is apparent i am admitting that the majority of what you stated in your letter is nothing but the truth.
When I grudgingly accepted the call to take a stand against human rights abuses and for a better Zimbabwe two years ago as a result of Itai’s abduction, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Innocently, wholeheartedly and of course naively, I jumped in.
The past two years have been bittersweet for me. I have learnt a lot of things in a short space of time even though it was not my first experience in the corridors of leadership. My purpose revolves around leadership practice and coaching.
My leadership journey started way back, it just wasn’t on this trajectory. With the help and unfailing belief of my mother, I assembled my first team (organisation) at the age of 11 in Mutoko. I registered my first company at the age of 16 and I actually paid part of my A level school fees using proceeds from that small business. Believe it or not, I have actually paid my way through tertiary education using proceeds from one business or another even when I travelled to countries like India, China and the USA on academic undertakings.
Even though social movement leadership (activism) was new ground for me, my natural and assimilated leadership prowess did not disappoint me. I quickly and easily found myself morphing into many different roles in the social movement. Of course, I failed in some instances and I have learnt from my failures.
2016 was undoubtedly the year of the social movement in Zimbabwe. We shook the system and I am humbled to have been a part of that. We saw an unprecedented wave of citizens participation in national processes. For the first time in the history of independent Zimbabwe, the citizens reclaimed their voice.
Of course, it is public knowledge that Itai Dzamara is my blood brother. He is my father and mother’s first born and I am fourth. When Itai was abducted, initially my fight was honestly about him.
As the days went by, my fight transcended Itai. My brother Itai then just became an emblematic feature of the fight for the regard of human rights and the rule of law. For as long as Itai is not accounted for, I will never remain silent but remember it’s not entirely about him.
Some people have argued that there is nothing special about Itai and he is not the only person to have been abducted under the watch of Mugabe’s ZANU PF government.
Yes they are correct, there is nothing special about Itai. Ever since the attainment of independence in 1980, many people have been abducted and killed under the leadership of ZANU PF. Approximately 20 000 civilians were killed in Matebeleland during the Gukurahundi operation. Over 5 000 Zimbabweans have gone missing mainly on political grounds without being accounted for by the government since 1980.
The only special thing is that myself and many other progressive citizens spoke out and acted when Itai was abducted thereby drawing a solid line in the sand regarding the disregard of human rights in Zimbabwe. Well done Zimbabwe.
In the past 2 years, several individuals including myself were abducted by the agents of evil but none went missing for a long time because we sent a loud and clear message to Mugabe and his minions using Itai’s case. It was a monumental precedence. Again, well done Zimbabweans.
The future of activism
As stated in this response, 2016 was definitely the year of activism and I totally agree with you that we must go back to the drawing table.
In as much as we witnessed an unprecedented rise of the citizens voice in 2016, it would be naive for us to fail to consider the heavy handed response of the security agencies. It is the morbid and unconstitutional response of the police which precipitated the current lethargy.
We were wounded and struck in areas that matter most. For instance, in my case, I was arrested more than 16 times just last year and the legal process which entail appearing in court is draining. We were injured physically and psychologically. For instance I actually now have a ‘permanent’ wrist problem. We lost a lot of things. For instance, I lost my hard earned two cars and even work gadgets such as my Ipad and laptop.
For some strange reasons, people seem to think we have a well we go to for money and so everything is okay. That’s wrong. I am however alive to some shenanigans within the movement and yes some of the assumptions and attacks we receive are not necessarily amiss. They are justifiable in some cases.
Speaking for myself, I am not supported by any organisation or individuals in the name of activism. What that means is that in the case of what was lost, I have to rely on my own means to replace those although some people have been generous enough to chip in here and there. Despite the fact that my professional work as a consultant, speaker and author has been affected by my involvement in activism, I still work and strive to strike a balance.
Maybe it’s also pertinent for me to steal this opportunity to adress another issue on the same trajectory. I have read in some instances that I benefit financially at the expense of Itai’s children. To the contrary, I actually take care of his family…I pay their fees, bills and I am responsible for their general upkeep.
All these issues have certainly slowed down the momentum and it’s not by accident. It’s a result of a meticulous strategy by the regime to impede our activities.
We are at an advanced stage of restrategising from the standpoint of activism even though my subjective view is that much of what we are going to be doing won’t be predicated on confrontation but engagement especially with the 2018 elections in mind.
It is going to be yet another epic year. Watch the space.
Having said all this, I therefore need to address my personal way forward.
Going forward, there is certainly going to be a noticeable shift in my leadership approach and demeanour. The bottom line is that I cannot complain all my life… I want to be a part of the solution. I am sure you know what that means. Lol. Interesting times are ahead. I will continue to pursue my purpose (leadership practice and coaching). Ultimately, yes public office is surely on my radar. In the fullness of time, it shall come to pass.
On that note, I wish to make it public that I envy your mind my brother. You are a sage. I have nothing but deep regard for you. Your input and constructive criticism is welcome anytime.
Namaste – the greatness in me salutes the greatness in you.
Patson Dzamara is a political and human rights activist in Zimbabwe. Article appears on Khuluma Afrika.