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Identity of a lost and found youth
Cynthia Marangwanda, Magamba Network
April 24, 2013

The construction of an appropriate identity is an often complex, confusing exercise especially for the modern African youth. Positioning oneself in a post-independence society still heavily reliant on its historical perspective, while simultaneously attempting to keep pace with a rapidly evolving globe, is not an easy task. That might explain why we the post-colonial children of Zimbabwe dubiously christened “born-frees” seem somewhat adrift in this raging current of contemporary life.

We are what the Senegalese author, Ousmane Sembene, referred to as “God’s bits of wood” anointed and chosen to perform a seemingly impossible task of carrying on a legacy we hardly understand, while at the same time finding ourselves scattered and ultimately headed for the fire. Though heavily indebted and grateful to our fathers and mothers for struggling for our liberation in the bushes of the land and in exile we also find it difficult to fully appreciate the gravity of what they went through, maybe because we simply were not present at the time.

Our elders find this unforgivable but how can we be faulted for choosing to focus most of our attentions on that which directly surrounds us? Should we force ourselves to walk backwards when our feet are inclined to move forward? Must we embrace the heroes they impose on us when we are perfectly capable of fashioning our very own functional idols? Technology is our new religion and yesterday’s post, status update and tweet is the new ancestor yet we still find ourselves deeply fascinated by the legend of Chaminuka and we are still heard time and again loudly and proudly referring to one another by our totems.

It is true that we have taken over the coloniser’s language and made it our own (we even think in English for heaven’s sake!) but we also reverently absorb the sacred connection to our roots embedded within the brown soil of our rural homes. As much as we mimic the foreign styles and scandals we see in the mass media, we also sit at the feet of our grandparents and listen to the beauty in their folktales with reckless abandon.

The simple fact is: we are not a lost cause, we are the way in search of itself.

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