There is nothing that gives me a renewed hope for human survival, and a reinvigorated sense of pride in the ability of an oppressed and brutalized people to finally say, “enough is enough”, pluck up their courage (casting away any prior fear, that had been instilled in them over decades of ruthless repression, at the hands of heartless tyrannical regimes), than the gallant relentless and protracted resistance of the nation of Myanmar – who, in spite of over 50 innocent unarmed civilians, who have been peacefully protesting the reemergence of direct military rule, after February’s coup d’etat that overthrew their elected government, being cold-bloodedly killed – yet, they have never cowered, but have bravely stood their ground, without even turning violent.
Day after day, the outstandingly courageous people of Myanmar, have proven to be in a class of their own, as they have never been found wanting in their unequivocal and uncompromising demand for the military junta to relinquish power, and restore their democratically-elected government, led by the now incarcerated Aung San Suu Kyi – a stance they have not wavered from, despite nearly daily killings of peaceful protesters.
Of course this exceptional astuteness and valour is totally unlike some people in other parts of the world – most notably, in Zimbabwe, who are notorious for lacking the stamina to even unflinchingly, but peacefully, demanding their rights from a kleptomaniac, repressive, and incompetent opportunistic ruling elite, that has done nothing but loot the country dry, leaving millions of Zimbabweans in poverty, or barely able to make ends meet, yet are too cowardly even to stand their ground in the face of an expected merciless, savage, and barbaric attack by the regime.
Whenever I admiringly watch the daily news coverage of the peaceful protests by the Burmese, valiantly taking the numerous brutal beatings up by their state security forces, I can not help wondering what makes these people tick, and what is it that makes them so different from our cowardly selves in Zimbabwe?
The Burmese are never a violent people, but a wonderful, humble, and god-fearing (mostly, Buddhists), but principled, disciplined, and selfless nation – as evidenced by their non-violent resilience in the face of violent repression, yet maintaining their ground, as they focus on achieving their ultimate goal for freedom and democracy for all the people of Myanmar, today and tomorrow, no matter what it will take, even if they are to lose their lives for this nobel and godly mission and duty.
Maybe, I would think, that is where the difference between the brave people of Myanmar, and Zimbabweans, lies.
For the Burmese, this struggle is a godly mission and calling, which is about sacrifice, as it is in service to their god, and a divine desire for an equal, fair, and free society – and as such, their actions are not motivated by a selfish desire for personal survival, and self-preservation – but, rather, the greater good of the entire nation, and future generations…even at a personal loss of life, as the ultimate sacrifice.
Are the people of Myanmar not afraid? Of course they are, as anyone who does not experience a healthy fear of suffering and death is not normal, considering that this is a God-given feeling, which enables us to detect danger and take appropriate action – however, when serving God, that fear is overcome by the Sprit of power, love, and sound mind (as He never gave us a spirit of fear).
No wonder, someone, like the biblical Simon Peter – who denied Christ three times, due to crippling fear of also being arrested and possibly killed with Him – nonetheless, after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, transformed into a fearless advocate and witness of Jesus, even enduring numerous beatings up, arrests, and eventually death by crucifixion, but he never relented nor faltered.
This is in stake contrast to Zimbabweans, whose every action is determined by personal needs, and selfish desires – such that, every decision is shaped by the, “what is in it for me, and how shall I benefit” mentality, which translates to fear, or pure indifference, when confronted by any cause that may result in personal sacrifice – even when the intended beneficiaries would be their own children, and grandchildren, as they prepare the groundwork for a brighter future for all.
For the majority of the people of Zimbabwe, their own immediate interests take precedence over every other considerations – which means that, if there should be any risk to my own life, then I would not be part of that cause, whether this would have guaranteed a good and more prosperous future for the rest of the country, and future generations.
In general, unlike the people of Myanmar, Zimbabweans do not regard the struggle for a better, freer, and more prosperous future for all the people of the country as a God appointed duty, and obligation that must be carried out with unflinching and undaunted commitment, faithfulness, and selflessness.
Which explains why we even flee from a military truck – as the then commander of the presidential guard, Anselm Sanyatwe, once boasted during the Montlante Commission of Inquiry into the 1 August 2018 post-election violence (that resulted in the lethal shooting down of six unarmed bystanders, who were actually running away from security forces who were attacking them), as he sought to show that Zimbabweans were generally cowards.
Yet, we are the very same people who are in the newspapers everyday for being bold enough to kill each other over lovers, money, or even beer!
Indeed, it can be argued that we Zimbabweans are peace loving – but, so are the ordinary Burmese, who have so far never resorted to any form of violence, in spite of a concerted brutal onslaught by their military regime – therefore, this line of argument does not hold any water, as the only remaining explanation is that we, Zimbabweans, will never sacrifice for the greater good of the nation (and, by extension, ourselves).
For Zimbabweans, we will forever place the burden for our own emancipation and prosperity on the shoulders of other people – as we perpetually cry to SADC (Southern African Development Community), AU (African Union), UN (United Nations), Western countries, even the opposition – none of whom are either mandated to help us, nor care enough to even bother.
We are such a pitiful people. A very pitiful people. And, each and every one of us needs to honestly and critically self-evaluate and introspect on our purpose and calling on this planet.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]