Friday, 5 February 2016
By Nick Mangwana
In Shona there is what they call a haivhiyiwi/haivhiiwe spirit. This is a spirit of spite. It works in such a way that some people go hunting. They catch an animal together but because as they were hunting, they fell out. This generates bad blood between them. Because now there is bad blood between them they would rather the meat rots than have the other person eat it. They would rather themselves go hungry than have the other person have a piece of it. This is the Haivhiyiwi spirit. It is a spirit borne out of spite.
In the malicious spirit of haivhiyiwi, the other person tries to skin the animal. But their former comrade snatches the knife. They get another one then the spiteful friend waits until he had skinned a bit of it and then comes and throws a lot of dirty and dust on it. This generates a big fight between the parties.
But as they are fighting they neglect the carcass of the dead animal. Another person who wants the meat as well comes along and drags the carcass away. Among the two friends fighting over the carcass nobody even notices that the carcass was being dragged away. Or is it their dislike of each other is more than their love for the meat? Because by the time they have finished pummelling each other a neighbour who is a very poor hunter has already salvaged what they can from the dead animal. The two of them have now lost out on the animal which was theirs in the first place because of spite.
Spite is defined as malicious ill will driven by a desire to hurt or deprive. Its closest cousin in Shona is called “pfini”. In Shona pfini is synonymised with the behaviour of a snake which bites and kills a prey it doesn’t eat. There is deprivation of life not to preserve another life but just to make sure the other part would not have life.
Someone said that this is what is being experienced in Zanu PF at the moment. Spite of immeasurable magnitude. Some say spitefulness is borne out jealousy. Some say it’s borne out or past hurt. Some say it is borne out of revenge. We don’t know where this one is emanating from.
That reminds me of Pope Francis who said is less papal language that, “wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful”. The problem with some spiteful people in politics, they are masters of smear. But when you smear each other, you smear the institution which you both belong to.
Spiteful people are not driven by any real gainful objective but just a desire to do harm. In a group setting like our Zanu PF spite produces inefficiencies and sometimes mutual destruction. Spite produces shaisano (It’s not mine but I don’t want you to have it).
A biologist in Edinburgh made a distinction between a spiteful animal and a selfish animal. A selfish animal will do anything to promote its own interests and nobody else’s. A spiteful animal will deliberately harm others despite the fact that this may harm it as well. The desire to inflict harm on the target trumps its own desire to survive. Some equate a spiteful individual to a honey bee which will sting despite the fact that stinging would result in its own death. We have these people in Zanu PF. But at least a honey bee only stings when it feels its existence is threatened. So it would rather die fighting.
Spite is an antisocial tendency to punish others even at great personal cost. Sometimes human beings are less than chimpanzees. An experiment has shown given the right circumstances human beings can knock food from a fellow human being even it disadvantages it. But the same experiment has also shown that chimpanzees would not knock food from a fellow chimpanzee if it disadvantages them. In short primates don’t have the shaisano we are seeing in Zanu PF. Does it say the party has people with less than primate traits? If it walks like a baboon, barks like a baboon, eats like a baboon then it is baboon.
Spite is a sentiment which is produced by resentment. It is the opposite of prosociality because spite is all about favouring certain actions because they can harm others. Spite in our political context is negative relatedness. It is negative competition. This type of behaviour is also called money burning. You see comrades, money burning is a behaviour of deliberately setting bank notes on fire and deliberately destroying them. It destroys the wealth of the owner but does not benefit any party. It makes the two parties less competitive without enhancing their position. Again, can we say there is money burning behaviour in Zanu PF in our current bickering?
It goes without saying comrades that we are emboldening the opposition by our actions. Their constant defeats had left them demoralised, confused and clueless. Now they are regrouping and even our old comrades who have gone to the dark side are beginning to think that come 2018 they stand a good chance. Well if we continue on this roadmap to destruction, it looks more and more a reality. If that happens we will all look back and hands on hearts concede that it was our own haivhiyiwi mentality that destroyed the good that is our party. For what other result would we expect, when we cut our noses to spite our faces?