THE phrase “history repeats itself” is often over-used as an everyday cliché, but no attention is given to its implications.
History provides lessons that very few fail to learn from. History could be used to prevent calamities when antecedents of known previous events come into play. Not all history that repeats itself is destructive, but sometimes it enriches human endeavours by providing positive lessons to learn from.
In all the social spheres that can be affected by history, politics comes down as the one that is most susceptible to the unfavourable replays of history. Having said so, politicians and those who influence politics never learn from this basic knowledge.
As a result there have been a number of political blunders that history has repeated with accuracy, similarity and with chilling effect.
Zimbabweans are not any different from others as they continue to be revisited by haunting historical events. Currently, history seems to be playing déjà vu tricks on the people with the indigenous African state reliving the scourge of fascism and dictatorship.
Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler would be happy to see effectiveness of their protégé in enforcing their dictatorial excesses.
In the words of Stanley G Payne, “fascism is a form of revolutionary ultra-nationalism for a national rebirth that is based on a primarily vitalist philosophy, is structured on extreme elitism, mass mobilisation and the Fuhrerprinzip (leader principles).
It glorifies violence as both ends and means, and tends to normalise war and military virtues”. This seems to define someone we all know.
Germany and Italy started the modern version of fascism around 1914, some 10 years before President Robert Mugabe’s birth. Although Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascist states were dealt a crushing blow through defeat in World War II, neo-fascism survives.
Neo-fascists occasionally rear their bigoted heads and cause untold despondence. In a fashion smacking of history repeating itself, a benign version of the phenomenon has established itself in the midst of Zimbabwe’s meek people.
Mugabe hinted that those who likened him to Hitler should not feel disappointed if he accepted to be 10 times the Nazi madman.
Mugabe accepted the Nazi tag in an effort to stress to the West that the gains of the agrarian revolution would never be reversed even at the whims of imperialists.
By accepting the Hitler tag, Mugabe became the man who cuts off his nose to spite his face. That was a needlessly self-destructive over-reaction to a small problem. This destroyed his character and reinforced the belief that history was repeating itself through the resurgence of a black Hitler with greater fascist tendencies.
Naturally people started drawing parallels between Mugabe and Hitler. His characteristic moustache did nothing to help his battered image. Events in Zimbabwe were scrutinised and comparisons were made with what went on in Nazi Germany. It was concluded that Mugabe practised an authoritarian type of rule that was punctuated with calls for unparalleled nationalism.
His party organised villagers into structures that gave his party an artificial stranglehold driven by the people’s fear; just like the Nazi did. The rallying calls centred on the gains of the struggle and the revolution had undisputed similarities with Hitler’s Mein Kamp.
Zimbabwe’s flamboyant parades of massed supporters for Mugabe’s pleasure enforced the sadistic discipline seen in Nazi and North Korean displays. Zimbabwe’s armed forces have been turned into Mugabe’s personal property in his capacity of Commander-in-Chief.
Generals have been made out of party supporters while career soldiers have been turned into village party operatives. Mugabe’s generals all bleat senselessly as the likes of Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler used to in Hitler’s vicinity.
Mugabe relies upon the ruthlessness of the secret service to silence his detractors. In similar fashion, the Nazis stifled the voices of the people using storm troopers. History cannot repeat itself word for word, yet the Nazi’s SS and Mugabe’s secret service bear total resemblance. Hitler dreamt of a thousand year-Reich and Mugabe dreams of an eternity in the helms of a subdued nation.
Hitler did not love Jews. He sent them to extermination camps in Auschwitz and Treblinka, among many others. Mugabe could not hide his dislike for the same. At one time he had to apologise for accusing some people for being “as hard-hearted as Jews”.
While he did not go the extra mile to commit a holocaustic murder in the fashion of his mentor, he managed to hone his murderous skills on the people of Matabeleland and the Midlands using his North Korean trained Gukurahundists. That was history repeating itself with Zanu ably doing what the Nazi did.
The rise of the neo-Nazis is being appeased as heroic anti-imperialism in capitals of the world with similar designs. World War II axis powers have been reincarnated as the axis of evil.
Hitler has his incarnate roaming the globe in chase of audiences. The apprentice is now a journeyman and is busy seeking alms and arms.
Masola waDabudabu is a social commentator