Where Art Thine Values Zimbabwe?

Not too long ago, especially in the villages of Zimbabwe, if someone was passing through a village and its late and too dangerous for him to continue his way the local people would accept him into their homes, feed him and give him a place to sleep and in some cases he would be offered food or money to continue his journey. I witnessed it myself a few times as a young boy.

Fast forward to 2011, accepting strangers into your house is not only foolish but may prove a rather dangerous thing to do. The whole issue of trusting fellow humans and being good Samaritans is now relegated to Sunday school story telling. So what happened Zimbabwe?

The reality of values is that Values are an important aspect for the development of a people yet values are also very fragile. If there are no real custodians who safeguard these values by passing them from one generation to the next, it doesn’t take time before a whole society is left in a state of cultural dilemma…not knowing what values drive their thinking and actions. It is quite possible that in the end all the negative characteristics that Zimbabweans used to shun becomes a part of our culture if we do not insulate ourselves from external negative forces.

Although there are some who still practise good values, many of Zimbabwean values are slowly dissipating. For those of you who grew up in urban areas of Harare in the 1980 and early 1990s remember the milkman leaving milk by your door and finding it there untouched? How about the bread at the door of the shop before it opens and there’s no one to look after it, how about being offered to share a cob of maize by the guy sitting next to you on the bus? What happened to your wallet when you dropped it? In Zimbabwe the general attitude now is one man for himself… this value rules the day from the top rungs of society to the bottom, yet as Zimbabweans we used to share what ever we had with the next person.This value is gone and people believe profiteering is the best way: screw the next guy… who cares I’m making my 1000%. Such thinking is retrogressive because that person will also have the same attitude and in the end both loose out.

Occasionally politicians in their rhetoric, talk about to safeguard our values but because their motives are at times viewed suspiciously, people do no take them seriously but there is legitimate concern. Values are like the threads that hold a society together and once they are broken then that society is open to anything. This is not to say that our society should not be dynamic it should and it must, yet not all new influences are necessarily good. As the world is becoming more global there is good reason to sieve through the other cultural influences we come into contact with.

In the crazy world of trying to survive people rarely take time as a collective unit to assess their values as a nation, however asking questions like who are we and where are we going is something we need to start doing often not just in the bars or as we sit by the fires at funerals but as a matter of national policy. We need to have and instill a national cutural moral dispensation that is positive and progressive.