Changing of the Guard is not real change.

An Essay By Rabhelani Mguni – 20 years old


For those familiar with royal palaces, like Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard is one of the most spectacular events of the day. But that is just a ceremony. It does not change the protocol and standards of the British institution, and this is how Africa is after the fall of the colonial governments and apartheid South Africa. Independence did not mean the colonial establishment was dead, it is very much alive. The same institutions that supported the shootings of South African students in 1976 are still in operation and doing what they did back then. Only now the man behind the trigger is black and behind him lurks the power of the establishment vowing eternal love if he only allows himself to be used by it. 

Growing up in Zimbabwe the experiences of my parents during the Rhodesian regime and mine are similar. Police brutality, a criminal justice system rigged against the poor people, and micro-segregation of minorities define the Zimbabwe, particularly Bulawayo, that I grew up in. Only now the police brutality, unfair justice system, and discrimination against minorities are at an all time high. A country where armoured police trucks, armed policemen, and truckloads of soldiers roam poor neighborhoods like Iminyela and Mabutweni during lockdown but don’t patrol the suburbs where the rich live. Teaching young children to choose between fear and violence. A judiciary that is biased against defendants from poor backgrounds and a prison system that tortures instead of rehabilitating convicts are relics of the boyish imaginations of P. W. Botha and Ian Smith. While this sounds like excerpts of a history textbook about Rhodesia and South Africa, this is current Zimbabwe in post independent Africa. Where are we going wrong? 

Four decades after independence, Zimbabwe has not deracialised. The coloured (biracial), San and immigrant communities still face hurdles that were present during the colonial era. Micro-segregatory policies against ethnic and racial minorities persist in every sector. It is disappointing that a government led by a liberation struggle oriented party can pass Indigenisation policies that exclude and discriminate other citizens. Xenophobia and colourism should never be acceptable social standards. 

June 16th is a reminder that it is time to decolonise the social establishment and do away with oppressive institutions and practices. The day is a reminder the fight is not over yet until full decolonisation is achieved. The police must protect not scare innocent poor children. The judiciary must deliver justice for everyone, and social policies must be deracialised to entrench the vision of an equal society. Progressive liberalization and diversity are what we need in our future. 

Hastings Ndlovu, a martyr for social justice, was not killed by the apartheid police so that the only change would be the race of the oppressor. The problem was not just the white supremacists in power but the establishment that allowed them to commit such hideous crimes against humanity. Change must come from young people. 

 

Rabhelani Mguni is a Zimbabwean writer and social reformist. He spends his time advocating for justice online and reading novels. His other published works include “Solitarius”, a short story published by Olongo Africa literary magazine, and “Equity and Justice for ethnic minorities: A case of Matebeleland (Zimbabwe)”, a research paper published by AfriFuture Research Bulletin. 

 

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