Building patriotism, national identity

19 Apr, 2016 - 00:04 0 Views
Building patriotism, national identity The principal purpose of the national pledge is to inspire patriotism

The Herald

zimbabwe-flagChristopher Farai Charamba Correspondent

Now at this stage, 36 years after independence, the majority of the population was born in the post-independence era. For most the liberation struggle is not something they lived but only something they have heard of, perhaps studied in school.

Patriotism is defined as the love and support that one feels for their country. It is born out of a national identity and belief and desire for one’s country to strive for excellence and to be the best. Patriotism can be seen in various ways often at the extreme end, when one chooses to die for their country or sometimes on the emotion on one’s face when they sing their national anthem.

Zimbabwean pupils in infant, junior and secondary schools will now be required to recite a national pledge of allegiance. The pledge is taken from the preamble of the country’s supreme law, the Constitution.

For infant pupils the pledge reads, “Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag, I commit to honest and dignity of hard work.”

Pupils in junior and secondary schools will be required to recite the following, “Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag, united in our diversity by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality. Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost their lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela and national liberation struggles.

“We are proud of the richness of our natural resources. We are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures. We commit to honesty and the dignity of hard work.”

This new initiative is spearheaded by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. The rationale behind introducing the national pledge of allegiance to Zimbabwe is to build a sense of patriotism and national identity among the youth in the hope that this will guide their behaviour into future. But it is multi-layered when one looks at it. It is not just an attempt at building patriotism among the youth but also orienting them to the principles found within the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

There are those who are quick to oppose the Government at any and every opportunity. Without reading the national pledge and understanding what its tenets are or that it was drawn from the Constitution, they were ready to denounce it.

Zimbabwe is not the first country to have pupils recite a national pledge of allegiance. Nigeria, Singapore, India, Ghana and even in the United States of America do it. The nation of Zimbabwe was born out of a colonial past and after a protracted liberation struggle that saw the loss of many brave lives. The ideals that guided that liberation struggle were self determination and the desire to have access to and control of the nation’s resources.

Now at this stage, 36 years after independence, the majority of the population was born in the post-independence era. For most the liberation struggle is not something they lived but only something they have heard of, perhaps studied in school.

But it is the foundation on which the country was formed. As such it is important for future generations to understand the principles on which the State was formed.

The Government as the central executive agency of the State has a responsibility to educate its people on these important principles that are part of the State’s history and are embedded in the State’s Constitution.

The national pledge of allegiance is about Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans. Unfortunately, due to the polarised environment of the political system and the manner in which the national narrative has been carried out, some people erroneously conflate party politics and agendas with instruments that can be good for the State.

Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government when it deserves it.” One should therefore learn to separate the two as the State and the Government are not synonyms but look objectively, regardless of political affiliations, to what is done by the Government for the greater good of the state and vice versa.

When one looks at the national pledge, it calls on all Zimbabweans in their diversity to unite in their difference, it calls on Zimbabweans to respect the fact that this country was liberated by men and women who made the brave sacrifice to do so.

It calls on Zimbabweans to be proud of the wealth of their nation, traditions and cultures and to commit themselves to working hard for the betterment of their country.

Despite the many challenges that Zimbabweans have faced over the years, one cannot downplay how resilient they are as a people and their industriousness.

Out of the trials and tribulations, many Zimbabweans have managed to achieve great feats in various industries in sectors including business, sport, arts, science, academia and culture.

The prevailing economic conditions have, however, caused despondency among some Zimbabweans about the future of the country.

It is important that Zimbabweans find a way to remain proud of themselves as a people.

It was the pride and self-worth that led many of the nationalists to cross the border to Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia to wage a war to liberate Zimbabwe. It is a similar pride that will lead Zimbabwe to overcome the difficult socio-economic environment that currently exists.

The national pledge of allegiance, like the national anthem, is about building national identity and about patriotism and pride in one’s country.

It is recognising that Zimbabwe will only be built by Zimbabweans who believe and are committed to working for the betterment of their country.

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