The departure of Mawarire from South Africa to the United States and not back to Zimbabwe has left some citizens feeling betrayed and used. However I fail to understand why these citizens are so surprised, when Evan himself had repeatedly said (and it is repeated in the video below) that each person must decide for themselves where they stand. They should not wait to be led.
In my previous post I suggested that the social media movements are about citizens arriving at a point of self-actualisation rather than waiting to be led by someone else to a destination that is not necessarily of their choosing. I understand those who complain that Evan has “abandoned us” as those who have not quite reached that all important stage of self-actualisation. They still feel they need the comfort blanket of a defined leader. Someone to take the blame when it goes sideways. This person is deified as a god (with a small “g”) and responsible for everything that goes right, and especially when things go wrong. Some have even gone as far as putting requests to God (capital “G”) for spouses to be engendered with similar traits to Evan.
However, right from the beginning it was clear that Evan, unlike Jesus, was not the man who could or would carry the weight of every citizens expectations and desires. He was however, a man who was prepared to express his own personal frustrations with the status quo. Thus people could see their own personal situations reflected in his words and as time went on it also appeared as if he was prepared to take the government abuse on behalf of everyone else. Therein lies the misplaced belief by some that Evan was the second coming…
Despite, Evan consistently stating that the social media movements were not his to lead, but for everyone to participate in and push forward he found himself as a default leader / spokesman – an unintended outcome, possibly? His eloquence at being able to get his message across without need for subtitles found him unwittingly elevated as the face and embodiment of a movement that appeared to have no structure or leadership to speak off, and that it had the power to move the citizenry without bribe or coercion was the biggest surprise to those running the country. When the government / ZANU responded in their usual heavy-handed manner they found no organisation they could take on, so they focussed on Evan.
The visit to court and the prosecution’s comical attempts to charge him with something of significance, gave Evan his first real shock. It is clearly one thing to see someone being put through the ringer, but it is whole other story confronting the system head-on in its own field of battle where it has all the keys and tools at its disposal. The result, Evan left Zimbabwe with ZANU mocking his retreating back. Unfortunately for ZANU the departure of Evan did not stop the social media onslaught and now everyone has a hashtag.
Though personally I believe that Evan did leave for South Africa prematurely, I also understand why he did it. It was premature in the sense that the self-actualisation process which appeared to be gaining ground, primarily within the urban areas and diaspora had not yet reached critical mass (this is an uneducated observation) and the spill over into the rural areas was yet to begin in ernest.
But now almost a month after he left Zimbabwe I have come to the conclusion that Evan has indeed run his race and in the process injected life into an almost comatose opposition, frightened the ruling elite and got the citizens expressing themselves in ways not conceivable in the first part of 2016. He shined very bright, maybe too bright, and perhaps he would have been disappeared if he had returned to Zimbabwe. Therefore it is better to have a live Evan than a dead one. Even a brief return to Zimbabwe before going on his tour would have been a massive boost to all the opposition parties and undecideds out there. The Pastor holds a very unique position of being apolitical and without any historical political baggage and in many ways that gives him credibility to most if not all. There are some who have gone so far down the deification route all they now see is betrayal, yet there was never a pledge or promise of leadership only of solidarity
Fellow citizens, the training wheels must come off, it is for the citizenry to pick up the baton (stick) and run with it. For the opposition to come up with credible formulae that will bring victory in 2018 and for the rest of us to come up with ideas of how to reboot Zimbabwe.
The mission has not changed, to improve the Zimbabwe we have, by getting those in charge to make the necessary changes to improve the lot for all.