THE PANORAMA OF DEVELOPMENT; NAVIGATING A RETROGRESSING STATE
AUTHOR: COMFORT NYATI SDB
During my first week of high school life, the word ‘photosynthesis’ sounded so foreign and too complicated to me. It was a vocabulary that perplexed students from school to home and vice versa and I was not an exception until later when I leant to appreciate the entire process of photosynthesis.
A process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy. _The Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc_ ; states that during photosynthesis in green plants, light energy is captured and used to convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen. From this process the unwritten theme is change, transformation and growth. The presence of these conditions enhances the growth of a plant. Should one of them fail, the ultimate result is stunted growth.
In a typical African setting, the birth of a new child in a family anchors new life. It is not just a new birth rather a new development, which is celebrated as a gift to the family and to the entire clan. Above all, the greatest joy a mother is to see her child growing and maturing physically, emotionally and socially. Whilst it is a great burden to a family to witness a child devoid of growth. In my society a deformed child is regarded as a bad omen if not a curse to the family.
In Psychology discussing the subject of human development addresses these issues by understanding constancy and change of experiences from conception through adulthood. Hence in defining development we are faced with a habitual dilemma; this is because the very word does not refer to one particular perspective on social, political and economic betterment. Instead as accorded by the distinguished scholar (Pearson, 1992) development is a hybrid term for a myriad of strategies adopted for socio-economic and environment transformation.
Without hesitation let us navigate to Zimbabwe, one of whose objectives of independence was to start afresh and move ahead together with a focal point being development. This implied nurturing our own land which was retained through ancestral perseverance, and most of all enjoy the aftermath of independence. Economic development stood as the principal objective right after the liberation struggle. Thus, to boost the construction of infrastructure, road networks, education, health facilities, and creating employment opportunities, to mention a few, consequently exhibiting a holistic epitome of progress.
In his article _Development in Zimbabwe: Strategy and Tactics,_ Michael Bratton pointed that, soon after independence the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (known as ZANU PF) government of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe committed itself to redress the severe social inequalities of the past, at least at the outset to reach its goals through prudent rather than a doctrinal approach. On the contrary the current situation of the state is a witness that explains the apparent accommodation of ZANU PF signaling a dangerous divergence from the stated goal of development. Generally economic development is on its zenith of stunted growth. For example in Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe, in my home village of Jambezi, for many years young people from primary to secondary trudge miles to access education in the far near schools.
It is an irony to realize imperialism as the only known development era per se. Those we thought of as our oppressors were the ones who generated progress in the then Southern Rhodesia, whereas the acclaimed liberators degenerated progress and became the oppressors of their own. The development of the nation is recognized in the low-class citizens being able to acquire and access all basic necessities like food, shelter and education. Unfortunately, today people are scrabbling like becks in search of those basic necessities.
In simple terms, there is an arrested development. The term “arrested development” has had multiple meanings for over 200 years. In the field of medicine, the term was first used, circa 1835–1836, to mean a stoppage of physical development; the term continues to be used in the same way in many disciplines like literature. However, in the parameters of this article it entails a static and detained economic development of a country in question. From 1980 to 2020 is exactly forty years which echo the Old Testament tale of the exodus of the Israelites, who journeyed for forty years towards the Promised Land. Despite the unfriendly circumstances encountered on the way they eventually they triumphed. Could this be equated to the case of Zimbabwe, with its four decades under one tyrannical rule? It is despotic because the supposed development was confiscated and jailed by these same leaders.
However, critics argued that in many countries, what was taking place was growth without development but with increasing poverty, high employment, unjust wages and rapid growth of black market trade. We may not deny the fact that development is constantly at play in Zimbabwe, but we can deny the assertion that it is a positive one. It is a development that is clouded by countless drawbacks, in other words we could call it a retrogressive-development. A development where we see the expansion of crisis and let alone a flourishing development of pot holes. So interestingly, a BBC report of March 14, 2020 reported that the youths of Kadoma carried a sarcastic demonstration by planting banana trees and bathing in pot holes as a protest for bad roads and appeal to the government for good road networks.
It is a landlocked nation blessed with phenomenal wonders that can hinder a foreign sightseer to turn back home. Meanwhile it is mesmerizing to postulate one of the tragic wonders is the economical regression. We are starved of good news in every press release. It is a news that does not speak of progress but of regress. In such a chaotic republic, positive development can blossom if only the country undergoes the process of civil photosynthesis. Thus making the leaders necessary conditions for transformation even as the citizens play the role of a plant that is ready to be photosynthesized.