We are all born non-conformists. Loosely defined a non-conformist is a person who does not conform to prevailing ideas or practices in their behaviour or views.
As children we do not listen to our mothers, we want to reach for the hot pot of stew because we are curious to see what is inside. We want to pick up that shiny sweet wrapper on the road because it looks like it would taste nice in our mouths. As we grow older we begin to ask difficult questions our parents never seem to have answers to. “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why do we only have one mouth, one nose and two ears and two eyes?” Our parents chide us to be quite and behave, in some cases they even beat that “cleverness” out of us.
We grow a little bit older and start school. As kids we ask very clever questions but our teachers turn us down and make us feel that our questions are stupid. In Social Studies class we learn about Freedom of Expression and Trade Blocks. I remember a friend told me that they once asked their teacher that “if Trade blocks were so beneficial how come we didn’t have as many in Africa?” The teacher replied and said “the answer is too complicated for you to understand plus such questions are not fit for a girl your age.” Now I look at it and realize that that teacher unlike my then eleven year old friend was a conformist, who was trying to put all those children in the same constricted box he viewed life.
When I was ten I questioned why when coloring in people my teacher would scold me if I used the Brown crayon instead of the Nude for skin color. When I was sixteen I asked my father why Zimbabwean leaders never had debates when running for elections, where they would talk about their policies and manifestos. I refused to be bought by bags of meali-meal, T-shirts and caps. I refused to be bought by free education and land. I refused to conform.
I never knew what civic responsibility was then, but I knew that it was my right to ask why things were the way they were. Why did Teachers strike? Why were nurses forced to stay in Zimbabwe? And most of all why were there potholes deep as my grandmother’s well in the middle of a highway in Harare? I did not get immediate answers to my questions but they did lead me to want to investigate more and understand my country and all her troubles better. This is when I became a Non-conformist Zimbabwean.
Allow me to define who the Non-conformist Zimbabwean is; the Non-conformist Zimbabwean is the person who will solve Zimbabwe’s problems but also the non-conformist is also the person who will redefine Zimbabwe and all that she is. The only problem is that being a non-conformist does not make you popular. Asking questions that make people feel uncomfortable is never going to buy you friends but it just might make you the genius of this generation. Although most of the time non-conformists are made to feel different, out of place and awkward Zimbabwe needs more of them.
We as a people should not expect too much from our Government. Most of the time we sit on our laurels and complain about how corrupt person X is and how greedy person Y is but in the end that is all we do: Talk. Talking will not make Zimbabwe a better country but acting and coming up with solutions will. As a citizen one has to realize that their duty is not solely to appoint people into government, but their duty is to steer the course of their country.