They will tell you that all you can do is talk, and nothing else. They want you to be silent. They want you to not even talk about it. But the word is the first point of resistance. If you cannot voice your concerns, then you do not have that first line of resistance.
The question is what shall we do?
Given the circumstances we are in as a nation, what should we do to get ourselves out of the rut? We need to make sure that our complaints, our views, whatever we think is right, are broadcasted to the entire nation and beyond.
If the word was not powerful, they would not be bothered by it all. They arrest journalists, they are bothered by the word. They conduct the kangaroo-court type of trials persecuting people for Social Media posts because words matter. They are powerful. Words create a base for the democratic movement.
The #ZimLivesMatter campaign on Twitter was short-lived. It was, in my opinion, very successful in that short term. It exposed the system. The system had to issue several responses. Whenever there are strikes, the response of autocratic governments is to shut down communication lines so as to stop the people from being organized. This is because communication is key to any organization or movement. This proves that words matter.
The democratic revolution needed in Zimbabwe requires taking the power of words seriously. The flow of information is very critical in this ideological war. We cannot overcome the widespread false consciousness without leveraging the power of words and sounds. We cannot de-lend the economic struggle itself of a political character without leveraging the power of words. We cannot embark on a cultural revolution without leveraging on word-power and sound.
The word is the First Point of Resistance. The word can be written, spoken, or sang. It is a form of defiance. It is the first port of mounting a resistance. It operates at the psychological wavelength. Words carry power. It's a basis for mental strength. The revolution starts in the mind. The mind can be reached by words.
The word as the First Point of Resistance defends the people from the propaganda dished out by our oppressors. It defends the people from the ideological missiles launched by our oppressors. Without the word, the people can be easily destroyed by narratives offered by those who oppress us.
The word, as a strategic form of resistance, requires calculated information dissemination. It calls for a well-thought-out process of educating the people so that they know what is right for them and what is not. The people are like sheep. Sheeple. They can be misled. The word has to protect the people from being misled.
To that end, the social media space and the music space are key battlefronts. The revolution has to be organized when operating in these key battlefields. Haphazard, unorganized, natural narratives and discourses within these spaces do not yield the best results. The enemy is well-organized. He has persons on payroll, dedicated to offering a uniform, consistent-across-persons narrative for every issue. Even though the paid trolls et cetera usually spew senseless propaganda, the propaganda is senseless and mindless to us but there are sections of the sheeple that are swayed by such.
The traditional media space is losing its relevance as a key battleground. 2021 is structurally different from 2001. The monopoly Jonathan Moyo had on information dissemination has been wiped away by technology. The traditional media space is still somewhat of a battlefield but it is no longer key.
The Word, Sound, and Power Strategy must:
- be purposeful and goal-oriented
- be consistent
- make maximum use of music
Purposeful and Goal-Oriented Words
The messages within the word-power and sound approach should have character. Many times, revolutionaries and purported revolutionaries, spread messages that do not have a character. Words that lack flavor. Such information, whilst good for educational purposes, for example for university students majoring in a certain branch, is not good for the people, due to that lack of character.
Information should be passed around with a goal and a narrative. These are necessary because it is war. It is an ideological war. We are in a war. Information that is not goal-oriented fails to work in favor of the revolution. Opposition writers do not understand this. They think when they are called to write with a narrative they are being asked to effectively lie, which is not really the case. They are being asked to write in a manner that accomplishes the goals of the revolution.
This is the case with our brother Alex Magaisa. His writing on the Big Saturday Read blog is informative but the information is largely useless for the people. It cannot be easily understood by our people, the poor people, the real Zimbabweans whom we derogatively call “mabharanzi”. The writings are deep and meaningful to me (personally), but the same cannot be said of the vendor. Such writings need to be digested and smaller, simpler versions have to be crafted for the average person.
Beyond the digestive issues with our brother's writings, there is a general lack of flavor. The writings are descriptive and not prescriptive. Long paragraphs are dedicated to detailing what is wrong, and nothing is dedicated to what needs to be done.
Brother Magaisa is celebrated on Zwitter and beyond. He is the star. Such celebration is exactly what is wrong with the country. It is a celebration of mediocrity. Here is a man, who is endowed with the knowledge, wisdom, and capacity to do better, to go the extra mile of leading the revolution intellectually, in terms of prescribing what needs to be done. Instead of leading on that front, he chooses to exercise restraint and not invite the full wrath of the regime. He thus excels at describing what transpired and fails dismally at prescribing what needs to happen.
The people need to be told what it means as well as what needs to be done. Magaisa relegates the “what needs to be done” part to others.
Magaisa views his role as that of simply documenting the wrongs of the government and nothing else. What is the layman supposed to do with such expositions? Because the expositions lack character, they remain words that do not carry the necessary sound and power. Such words are largely useless to the revolution and the fight for democracy and development.
The few times that he dares to be prescriptive, he laces the prescriptions with a lot of hedging activity. In order to remain humble, Brother Magaisa does not attempt to tell people what needs to be done. The very idea that if someone attempts to tell people what needs to be done then he is trying to be the smartest person in the room is obnoxious. In a world where intelligence is not equally distributed, there are of course persons who are smarter than others, and they actually owe society a duty to use their brains to the fullest. Magaisa should not be blinkered by a pursuit of humbleness. He ought to be live and direct. He is smarter than most, and he has to intellectually lead without owing an apology to us who have less intellectual capacity. Fully expressing his intelligence should not offend us.
In earlier articles, I wrote about the need to understand Attention Economics. We are living in a time where attention is expensive. The time that people devote to politics is limited (though it ought to be the largest). So, for the furtherance of the revolution, waMagaisa’s expositions, because they appear revolutionary to the reader, whilst lacking the actual revolutionary elements, end up eating time that readers allocate to the revolutionary material without furthering the revolution. The time is eaten without taking the mind of the reader to the required destination.
Celebrating Brother Magaisa’s efforts at “educating-without-agitating” is akin to celebrating that Marcus Rashford scored 11 goals during the season. It is wonderful, isn't it? He has scored 10+ goals for three consecutive seasons. But given his talent, the chances created by the team, and other factors Marcus Rashford should be in the 20+ goals per season bracket. Even though getting 10+ goals is a wonderful achievement, it is still far below what is expected of him. It is below what is required from him. Manchester United needs Marcus Rashford to score 20+ goals per season. Celebrating the 11 goals per season is effectively celebrating mediocrity.
This celebration of mediocrity is not just isolated to us, the fans of Brother Magaisa. It is endemic to Zimbabwe. It is part and parcel of our culture. It was listed among the many aspects of our culture that need to be overhauled.
By celebrating mediocrity, those who push for and desire democratic change and economic development settle for a suboptimal result set. They settle for less. The revolution is stalled. For all intents and purposes, the level of changes needed to the Zimbabwean society in all areas (economic, political, and social) require something more than just small changes. The right word is “revolution”.
Non-revolutionary material, such as waMagaisa’s musings comfortably passes the education criteria, for the already-educated citizen. The goal, however, is not to educate those who are already educated. Thus, the non-revolutionary material fails to pass the goal-oriented criteria. It fails dismally.
Revolutionary forces and mindsets should be wary of falling into that trap of dishing out content that is nice but does not achieve the goals of the revolution. Word power and sound should be thoughtfully used in furtherance of the revolution, without waste.
Consistency is key
The revolution has to constantly make use of word, sound, and power. Consistency requires the revolutionary forces to disseminate narratives without ceasing.
Many times, revolutionary forces only step out when it's close to election time or when offering a narrative to an event. Maybe calling those who practice this is abusing the meaning of the “revolution” word for there is nothing revolutionary about it. It is normal day-to-day politicking.
Revolutionary elements must ensure a constant stream of content is always flowing. Occasional spike of content around key events remains necessary but the underlying current of information should flow continuously.
There is a view that a constant flow of information ends up boring the receiver of that information. That is very true. As such, the information should be varied, “baked differently” to avoid being monotonous. That being said, it is better for the receiver to suffer from information overload than to suffer from information malnutrition. The information malnutrition leads to an acute ideological deficit, a phenomenon that we witness among thousands of opposition supporters in Zimbabwe.
The thinkers have to be consistent in terms of “thinking” for the revolution. The disseminators have to be consistent in disseminating information. The interpreters have to be consistent in their efforts. Above all, all of these different players have to be internally consistent. This is necessary because we are in an ideological war. If we are not internally consistent, we expose ourselves to the machinations of those we oppose, and we offer an ideology, a narrative, and a proposition that is neither palatable nor acceptable to the generality of the populace.
Maximum use of Music
Music is powerful. Very few people actually understand how powerful it is. It is an essential tool in the word-power-and sound dimension. Music is literally powerful words that are given a sound, making them even more powerful.
The youth learn better and faster through music. The new Zimdancehall culture has not yet reached the level of becoming protest music. It has to be nurtured and steered in that direction. The ghetto youths have to express their political and economic frustrations through music.
Political themes, messaging and undertones have to be placed in the majority of Zimdancehall songs. The whole genre needs to be transformed from dance songs, hate songs, hustle songs to politically powerful songs because the most real struggle is economic but has its roots in politics.
The average music artist is uneducated, ignorant, lacks verbiage and new content. The artist is an entertainer. His lyrics and sounds are centered around entertaining people. People want to be happy. Whilst happiness is key, anger is another equally important emotion. Music plays around emotions. Music can be used to vent out anger, hatred, and bitterness. It can be used as therapy for the ghetto youths. It can also be used as primary means of forming a political ideology.
Songwriters need to be educated and re-educated. In fact, a sub-industry of songwriters needs to be established within the Zimbabwean music industry. Educated and re-educated songwriters would have the necessary knowledge, wisdom, and headspace to pen songs that have the right set of words that act in furtherance of the revolution.
Right now, artists sing about drugs, love, dance, money, haters et cetera. A re-educated breed of artists would predominantly infuse more socio-economic issues with a political lens. Artists would sing about inflation, exchange rates, corruption, decentralization, land, title deeds, poverty, et cetera. They would find the right non-technical words that speak to the heart of the citizen. Surely, poverty and lack of property rights are more prevalent features in our society than “money-hype” content.
Because musicians have been persecuted previously, they are afraid of singing about what really matters. Under a decentralized word-power and sound strategy, society has to find a way of protecting and rewarding its artists.