My apologies to Mr Strive Masiyiwa for putting his name in the same sentence as one Zodwa waBantu. I do it only to make a point. The trade they each ply is as different as darkness and light.
Zodwa’s only claim to fame is cavorting and frolicking around Johannesburg’s nightclubs with no undergarments. How bizarre is that? What lewdness and decadent exhibitionism!
And now she wants to come and spread her ludicrous smuttinessto our daughters across the Limpopo? Hell no! We are not that type of country.
We have enough abominations and home-grown reprobates of our own without importing additional moral barbarity and social ribaldry. No thanks.
This woman has already had her fifteen minutes of infamy. We won’t dignify her ignominious shenanigans any further. And so, we will move right along.
Too many zeros and too few heroes
Question: Why does our government continue to strive with Mr Strive Masiyiwa? We have seen this movie before in 1995. But now we watch a re-run with reference to his Kwese TV. Why won’t they give him a license to operate?
Is he not one of Africa’s own great son to come out of our nation and rise to the top in his industry? How many great sons does Africa have? Not nearly enough I would opine.
It is common cause that true greatness is a rare commodity in Africa. We have a plethora of zeros and a serious dearth of heroes all over the continent. And so, when we find greatness or heroism anywhere, it behooves us to recognise it and celebrate it – something we are good at doing after the person is dead and buried.
But true heroes are rare. We have plenty of celebrities but very few heroes. There is a difference between a hero and a celebrity. The former is an asset and the latter is simply an ass. Unfortunately, we have more of the latter than the former in African politics.
And sadly, these navel-gazing zeros are the only “heroes” we have to showcase to our kids who are in dire need of great role models to look up to. Our kids know Batman, Spiderman and Superman, but many have never met in real flesh and blood true living legends whose life stories ignite the passion to soar higher in life.
This is what heroes do. The stir in us the passion to reach for the stars, even when our reach seems to exceed our grasp. Heroes make us believe in ourselves and go after the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
There is a very real sense in which business heroes like Strive Masiyiwa (and there are a few others) give us “permission” to succeed. Because “they did it, we also can did it!”
Surely if one of us can climb to the dizzy heights of success, perhaps we all have it within us to climb up too, whatever our field of endeavor is. This is the transcendent importance of heroes – they become peaks to our human mountains.
Our heroes reflect who we are as a people
Here is what I wrote about that in my 2006 book titled “Dynamics of Heroic Faith”:
“The nature of a community’s heroes reflects its occupations and concerns. The people we look up to, talk and write about reflect the deepest, most significant trends of our individual and national history. Our choice of heroes as communities literally speaks volumes about where we have been and where we are going” (Dynamics of Heroic Faith, 2006, pg xii)
This is why it was said of the famous J.C. Cain of Mayo Clinic in America, that whenever he would select young men for medical training, he would always ask them who their heroes were. One’s heroes are usually an indicator of the direction one is headed in life.
What direction are headed as a nation when we persecute and chase out of the country our entrepreneurs, philosophers, poets and prophets? All because they hold a different viewpoint? Why is diversity a liability and not a national asset?
Don’t the powers that be not know that if two of us are exactly alike, one of us is unnecessary?
A tide that lifts us all
You can slice it whichever way you want, the fact remains that Strive Masiyiwa is Zimbabwe’s biggest and most internationally celebrated business hero. Founder of Econet Wireless, a telecommunication and media behemoth, Masiyiwa is also a huge philanthropist who has, through his foundation, provided scholarships to over 100 000 young Africans.
He supports over 40 000 orphans and has sponsored university students in USA, UK and China.
With a Facebook following of over 2.5 million, he has the most engaged following of any business leader in the world, including Bill Gates and Richard Branson, who occupy second and third position respectively.
With that kind of resume you would think the Zimbabwean government would be proud to have a son of the soil putting our nation on that world map and representing us with such class, dignity and decorum.
But alas, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps our leaders have never heard the old aphorism that says “a rising tide lifts all boats.” If they have, then why will they not allow this particular tide to lift us up as a nation?
Why stand in the tide’s way to erect levees that impede its progress, when its self-evident that the benefits of its progress can redound to the nation by way of jobs and infrastructure? How daft can anyone be?
A self-centred pedestrianism that hurts everyone
But all this “self-centred pedestrianism” (to quote Chinua Achebe) is really no skin off Masiyiwa’s nose.
Does anyone seriously think Masiyiwa will lose sleep at night for a single day because our tin pot rulers won’t grant him a license because of a crab mentality that says, “If I can’t have it or own it, neither can you”?
If the political leadership won’t let him, and others like him, set up infrastructure and create real jobs (vs Mr Maziwisa’s 2 million phantom jobs), these guys will simply pick their bags and go set up somewhere else.
They are simply not going to wait for our leaders to finish playing their silly “king of the hill” political games which do nothing but further cement our place in the global village as the quintessential banana republic.
C’mon guys, give the man the doggone license for Pete’s sake!
What do we have to lose if he gets it? His success is our success. Allow him, and others like him, to come home and create jobs. Set up seminars that enable these business heroes in the diaspora to come back home to mentor our young dreamers and visionaries.
The truth about the important role of mentors is stated in my book as follows:
“Everyone is inspired to run faster, reach higher, and work harder when they have someone great to follow. When dreamers study the path of those who scaled the treacherous heights of success before them, they dare to believe that they too will one day stand on the lofty peaks where dreams actually come true” (quoted from Dynamics of Heroic Faith, pg xvi).
Our government must get over itself and do right by this man and this nation. Ndatenda.
(Bishop Dave Chikosi’s book, Dynamics of Heroic Faith is available online on Amazon.com as well as various other online platforms)