In 2001 Zimbabwe experienced a cyclone called Cyclone Eline and I remember we did not go to school for the three days. The bridges were washed away and places flooded. The Government did try help people by giving those who had their homes flooded or swept away,a place to live temporarily but majority of aid came from PLAN and UNICEF. NGO’s who ‘cared’ about the well-being of the ordinary African. People rejoiced as they received clothes, tents and food from these NGO’s but they mentioned very little if at all about the help they were getting from Government.
In my small town of Triangle in Zimbabwe, workers who work in the sugar mill and cane cutters signed up their names to receive food such as cooking oil, soap, rice and flour from a NGO that is operating in Zimbabwe. Our house helper went to sign up her name, whilst having a conversation with her she casually said “Thank God for white people and America as they bring us food!” She went on to say that had it not been for them, she would not know how to survive.
Looking back on this situation, I realise now the effects of passive power. Through ‘helping’ the ‘poor’ African the West has clearly sunk its influence into us. Our helper is undoubtedly not the only Zimbabwean, African for that matter who thinks that without Western Aid we would not survive. I remember one day at school I told my friends that if we educated our fellow Zimbabwean farmers on how to become more efficient farmers our agricultural produce would increase but they all quickly replied in disagreement. They all said the only person who knew how to commercially farm was a white man, that if we wanted to prosper as a nation the white man should come back to farm our own land.
This is where I will say passive power can be more of a threat to a people as compared to aggressive power. The fact that an eighteen year old boy born in a sovereign state would say this is alarming. One would ask why? The answer is simple, Western Influence which is propagated through aid and media. We grow up seeing and hearing on TV, radio from our parents that white people are our saviours. We begin to believe it. The message being indirectly said is that I as an African am incapable of coming up with my own solutions to my problems, that I am incapable of helping myself. This would ultimately mean that I cannot fully rule myself. This is what we are fed and unfortunately grow up and live on.
In 2002 President Robert Mugabe removed white settler farmers from their farms because they (the farmers) were refusing to integrate and share their land with the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. As a result of this Zimbabwe was put under trade sanctions and certain leaders banned from entering western countries. The story that the Western media told was that “Tyranny Racist President Removes White Settlers” and the fact that land belonging to six thousand had been redistributed to over a hundred thousand people. When Zimbabwe refused to be controlled by the West, the West retaliated and punished all Zimbabweans by using their economic influence to cripple the country.
Their aim was to control and have a say in Zimbabwean politics and in exchange promise economic growth. This cannot be defined and looked upon as Independence. However because people do not question the West for fear of becoming the next Zimbabwe they watch and bury their heads in the sand –passive power. I for one think Zimbabwe will recover though it will take a while and show the rest of Africa that for as long as we live under neo-colonialism and passive power we are not free.
I agree that some of the actions taken by my current president were not by far the best and also my country being plagued by corruption and bad governance cannot solely blame all its problems on the West. Furthermore Africa should be weary of the China 21st century movement in Africa, we should not fight to break free from one master to put ourselves in the hands of another. Regardless the question still stands what will you choose, complete sovereignty or to be exploited while you are given a comfortable cushion to distract you?