The role of perception in world affairs is so central and significant that billions and billions of dollars are poured into propaganda systems each year to influence how people view events around them.
There is always a correlation between perception and vested interests, and that correlation defines political power.
The characters of Robert Mugabe and Nelson Mandela to us Africans remain perceived as two iconic nationalists who liberated their respective countries from colonial minority rule. Yet in the West, there is nothing similar between these two political stalwarts.
Nelson Mandela is a blameless shining saint, and Robert Mugabe is the "devil" incarnate. The former is the example we must religiously follow, ad the latter is the "devil" we must forever shun.
Perception around liberation movements is that they are less democratic than post-colonial opposition parties.
This is why Western election observers have viewed Zanu-PF suspiciously over the years, including during the just-ended July 30 harmonised election.
Western politics on the other hand, are portrayed as founded in progression, and political parties that stand opposed to liberation parties in former colonies are often seen as progressive and more aligned to Western democracy.
We have seen this over the years with the MDC, and with the Democratic Alliance in South Africa.
The ANC is currently portrayed as a retrogressive outfit just about to wreck South Africa into a monumental tragedy, the very way Zanu-PF was once crucified during the Mugabe era.
In the eighties, United States president Ronald Reagan heavily armed Renamo in Mozambique and UNITA in Angola in the name of fighting for democracy.
Perhaps, we may have to start with the institution called the Church before we revisit perceptions in the arena of politics.
Traditionally, the Church's major role has always been to propagate and encourage spirituality, ethics and rightful behaviour among people, and of course some would never leave out salvation.
Regardless of its divine stature, the Church is also a social institution and it has evolved over time such that the definition above cannot be described as fully conclusive.
Those working in the advertising industry know very well the power of emotion and feeling, and almost every advert is designed to bypass a person's sober analytical and critical scrutiny.
When advertising, one seeks to speak directly to emotions so that the targeted person acts in terms of feelings instead of reason.
So, the colonial Church that was brought as a collaborating tool to the goal of colonial conquest, taught the African to be emotional and spiritual; and often, these two concepts are confused to the exclusion of critical thinking.
The post colonial church has even become worse, with unscrupulous wealth diggers masquerading as church founders when all they do is manipulate the emotional-spiritual state of their members for personal gain.
The "emotional-spiritual state" that is devoid of critical thinking is nothing but a bogus state of mind. It is a kind of bogus state that allowed colonialists to manipulate some of our ancestors so that in many cases, they could not bring to bear on their everyday problems common sense and reasoning.
This is not the Church's problem, but squarely the problem of how competing power centres can externally manipulate the institution of the Church.
So, while the Church may see its primary role as maintaining spirituality, fostering an emotional-spiritual relationship with God, the earthly reality is that Church members are people who live on earth and that they are people who must feed and protect their children and protect their economic interests.
Marx Weber wrote that protestantism and capitalism had a correlation where it could be proven that the founding of protestantism was linked to the advancement of Western capitalism.
Even Catholicism was from the beginning related to certain economic structures.
This really means that the Church is not separated from money and economics and it means the African has the right to redefine the Church in ways that advance the African interests; the economic, social, political and spiritual interests.
This redefining means a departure from the colonial definition of the Church.
In fact, the African independent churches in Southern Africa, like the Apostolic Church (Mapositori) and the Zion Christian Church (MaZioni) were the first to depart from the orthodox colonial structures of the Church as they sought to safeguard the African economic interests fully.
Today, we have a lot of African founded pentecostal Churches like the Ezekiel Guti-led ZAOGA Forward In Faith, or the Family of God Churches led by Andrew Wutawunashe, and many others across Africa, and these too departed from the colonial set up of the Church to seek more and more of the African reality in Christianity. The idea has been to view the Church in the context of the African life and to find ways of preserving the Church's spiritual and ethical mission while at the same time making sure that the Church enhances the African political, economic and social life.
People who are economically crushed and exploited are often weighed down with this sense of guilt, sin and inferiority.
The theology of Jesus Christ shows that He was crucified mainly because He struggled against the ideology that was coming out of the major religious establishment of his time, Judaism.
This establishment had an economic order and structure that forced some people into slavery and servitude (poverty) and it rationalised and idealised the practice as part of the Faith.
The African Church of today must restructure to enhance the material well being, not only of its members but also of the generality of the African population, while it carries out its spiritual and ethical function to rid society of deviance.
The Church as an economic unit can be an instrument of African ownership of African resources, land and properties.
The Church is well structured for effective communication and organisation and it can build businesses and distribution networks that can empower an entire continent, enriching the African population and creating markets for African produce abroad.
If, however, the perception of the Church is this narrow view that Christianity is only about being a spiritual people and we shun becoming "worldly" and only see ourselves as living well after we die - then we can be assured that we are going to catch hell in two places, on earth and after we die.
Just like the Church must manoeuvre as an institution to enhance economic development and the emancipation of the African people, a lot of other institutions must equally restructure to suit the African cause.
The African leader who after independence is convinced that the economic structure of Africa must primarily hinge on Western investment and African cheap labour will be hailed as politically upright by the Western post-colonial domination doctrine, otherwise known as imperialism.
Our vulnerability under the economic ruin of the last two decades makes candidates for foreign economic manipulation and subjugation.
This is the African leader who, like the colonial orthodox Christian is convinced that happiness will come in the future, and as the colonial orthodox Christian respected the Church that was blind to African interests, so this African leader respects a democracy that is blind to African interests.
The colonial Church created poor Africans and rich colonial settlers just like Judaism created rich and powerful Sadducees and Pharisees at the expense of poor servants and slaves.
In the same manner, we have neo-liberal democracy that is regressive and infantile.
It is a democracy that creates in Africa a population dependent on selling cheap labour to foreign investors, when they are not lining up for Western aid.
We cannot pivot our livelihood on the benevolence of foreign people, trying all in our power to impress donors with our poverty.
Democracy as an institution is not a bad idea, just like the Church is in principle a very good idea.
However, there is this danger that just like the Church was abused in history the institution of democracy is being abused grossly to promote and encourage the spread of Western interests for the benefit of Western economies and businesses - all at the expense of less developed nations.
A democracy that allows apartheid capitalists to perpetuate their economic advantage over the black South African population is hailed as legendary reconciliation; and for not upsetting it Mandela was immortalised even before his death.
Now President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen as the beast coming to destroy the wonderful apartheid economy that his predecessors preserved, especially in regards to land tenure.
Mandela is not only a darling of the West, but his legacy has become a brand after which the institution of democracy in Africa must be modelled.
South Africans must rejoice in the eternal glory of Mandela's legacy and that happiness must continue to be expressed even in deep poverty, so the perception goes.
Just like the Church must propagate spirituality, ethics and rightful behaviour, democracy must encourage liberties, freedoms, and change in leadership, not the capitalist economies based on cheap labour from less developed countries.
As former South African President Jacob Zuma noted once in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, "people do not eat democracy", especially the type of democracy preached and funded by the West.
It is common knowledge that Zuma was not viewed as the best disciple of Mandela and the Western scepticism over his leadership was quite evident.
It turns out that his successor Ramaphosa is disappointing them even more, judging by the rhetoric from the White House.
Zuma's close ties with the Zulu culture did not bring a lot of comfort to the tutors of democracy, just like Ramaphosa's enthusiasm with land redistribution is not seen in democratic light.
A democrat must be a friend of business and capital, and must by definition be an excellent architect of pacifying the poor masses.
Zuma was, however, a lot more acceptable as a democrat when compared to Mugabe. But even Mugabe was once such a stalwart in the institution of Western democracy that he was even awarded a knighthood by the Queen of England, later to be withdrawn after he infuriated his awarders with land reclamation in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe was an award winning democrat when he had white settler farmers occupying over 75 percent of Zimbabwe's arable land, when he had more than 400 British companies running industry in Zimbabwe on the strength of the cheap labour provided by hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean workers, and when he allowed these companies to keep the profits they made in Zimbabwe in European banks.
Are we going to please the Commonwealth the same way this time around? We are open for business, and the rest we will see and analyse as time tells it all.
One does not serve the institution of Western democracy any better than we were doing when Mugabe was knighted.
Well, Mugabe lost his democrat icon status in Western eyes the day he decided that Zimbabweans needed to regain their stolen land that was being occupied by white settler farmers.
He became an instant devil and at the time Morgan Tsvangirai was quickly created to keep the institution of Western democracy alive in Zimbabwe.
At his peak, Tsvangirai had access to the powers that be in almost every single Western capital. Here in Australia it was a deportable offence to criticise him.
Like Nelson Chamisa after him, Tsvangirai sometimes benefitted from the violence of thugs that terrorised people of divergent views in his name.
The violence was in some cases egregious, but not once did such violence become newsworthy in mainstream Western media.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is coming as his own man, manoeuvring a balancing act between Tsvangirai's perceived passion for democracy and Mugabe's popular nationalist policies -- not so popular in Western circles.
When Western interests were not threatened in Zimbabwe, a perception was created that Mugabe was a shining democrat worth rewarding by Western awards.
We hope President Mnangagwa will reach the balance of a win-win situation where this country will benefit optimally from the resources that are our birthright.
When Mandela preached reconciliation and left apartheid economic interests undisturbed, he was hailed as a hero, and all South African leaders are being urged to emulate his every move while he was in office - of course in the name of the excellent institution of Western democracy.
A democracy that does not cater for Africa's economic interests is like a Church that preaches happiness ever after death, ignoring that Church members need to eat and feed their children.
A democracy that only teaches Press freedom, human rights, free and fair elections, and capitalist property rights, to the exclusion of economic rights, will make us catch hell here on earth and surely after we die as well.
Heaven was not made for stupid, gullible and docile people, and likewise democracy. Democracy is not liberties and freedoms practiced in poverty. It is majority rule leading to material happiness.
Democracy must create and build businesses, must feed the people, must educate our people, must empower our people economically, must free our people financially, must provide health for our people, and must protect the African economic interest.
Yes democracy must never lose the concepts of freedom, liberties, human rights, fairness and justice, but with these must come economic freedom for Africa.
We had African leaders fighting over European ideologies during the Cold War - one defending an ideology from the United States, while the other was defending an ideology from Russia.
They forgot to base their ideologies upon a profound analysis of their own history and experience.
Today our leaders are fighting again over Western democracy and other foreign ideologies, like the Chinese ideology -- all in the name of advocacy for abstract change.
We need an African-centred ideology, and that way we will do away with conflicts and self-destruction.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death.
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia