Wednesday, June 3, 2015

And Mulusa wept

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
-  Kahlil Gibran.

SATURDAY, May 9, 2015 or there about. Lucky Mulusa’s posse drove into Ngabwe district, Central province. The whole spectacle was reminiscent of John Wayne riding into a new western country frontier town. I can imagine Mulusa sitting low in his brand new shining government vehicle, dreaming of the welcome he would get. Healthy looking school children with flags lining the neat tarmac road into the town; civil servants in double breasted suits ordered from Oxendales, eagerly waiting at the new district offices; and, a raised podium where he will deliver his speech. I further imagine Mulusa going over his speech, how he will walk up the steps to greet the District Commissioner and what jest he will utter to reduce the tension. There surely was going to be tension. After all Mulusa is a simile of the inspector general in that classic satirical play, Government Inspector, by Nikolai Gogol.

But unlike in the Government Inspector, there will be no Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, rushing to inform the District Commissioner and his officials that they have seen the government inspector staying at the local inn.

Mulusa will enter the town in grand style! It’s a new town after all and he has to savour it first. There was no way Mulusa could not dream all this. After all, Michael Sata had said, let there be a Ngabwe district. And abracadabra, there was Ngabwe district!

But lo and behold! Mulusa entered Ngabwe and he wept. There was no new district called Ngabwe. Instead, he stumbled upon a district and a people living in Shaka Zulu times!

The question then is, why did Lucky Mulusa weep? Did he weep because of doubt about a truth he observed? That “abracadabra, and there was Ngabwe district” was a lie? Or did he weep because the reality he observed was surreal, to the extent that he was ashamed? We may never know the answer until we ask him, but the latter seems more likely.

Mulusa knew there was no Ngabwe. For him to have expected the contrary is foolery. And this is why.

On August 24, 2014 in a blog article titled, Be responsible voters, never be cheated again, Mulusa writes: “It is strange why the PF in its governance chose to adopt political methods that have been proven through scientific and social studies, that such methodology of governance makes development less likely. The PF from inception lied to the people about its 90 day deliverables…. As if to ensure that development should never be delivered to the people, the party adopted undemocratic and bad governance characteristics[1].

He further observes that: “Both the PF and those that voted for the party are guilty of the calamity that has befallen our land. May be an appreciation of our challenges, would make us more responsible voters who in future, should get concerned, be responsible voters and refuse to be misled again!”

In another article, Mulusa writes: “Future generations will wonder how such an educated, experienced and exposed generation failed to take advantage of a wealth of mineral resource endowment, rich soils and great tourism potential. They will wonder why they were born in a country whose fore fathers left it in a mess several years after the dawn of civilisation – boy we will be cursed.[2].

Clearly, Mulusa wept because he was ashamed. Guilty. He even wrote about it. Sic.

Perhaps, we should thank Mulusa for weeping? After all, when he shed tears over Ngabwe, we later read that government has disbursed 24 million kwacha for the construction of a district administration block and staff houses.

In hindsight, we can’t thank him. We do not want him to go and weep over Sioma, Nkeyema, Luano, Shiwang’andu, etc. He will surely run out of tears. I, for one, wouldn’t want that for my good friend.

But let us not deceive ourselves, it is not only Lucky Mulusa’s shame or guilt, it is our shame and guilt too.

Over fifty years after political independence, us the privileged - The ones who have never known the hardships of open defecation, the hardships of walking long miles to a health centre; and indeed, the hardships of watching our children die of curable diseases, choreograph our lives like that that is how all Zambians live.

Mulusa carries the shame of our governance irresponsibility. Like Mulusa wrote in 2014, our political governance choices are tragically becoming an incarnation of the unthinking. This, we need to free ourselves from.

Sophocles says, “if it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping”.  

So unlike Mulusa, let us not weep. Weeping won’t help those we always leave behind. We can leave that to Mulusa for now. We can ease our shame, our guilt by always demanding of those we choose to govern on our behalf, to honour their promises. If they don’t, show them the door, as often in their ego trip they sometimes forget where the door is. Period.

Verbum satis sapienti - a word to the wise suffices.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Robert advises the return of the hyenas?

"They are behaving exactly like Hyenas, these are animals that go about looking for faeces. The MP’s ditching their parties are like Hyenas looking for fecal excreta.”
- Dr. Francis Manda (Lusaka Times. January 6, 2013)

Lately news, and indeed social media postings from the ifintu ni Lungu side of the political pendulum, has become mentally eliciting. Just the other day, I was treated to a picture of H.E. President Edgar Lungu in a boogie mood on arrival at Harare International Airport, again. I grant him that. He can boogie. Reminded me of my younger days, when we would walk singing, “I got the power” after Shupi had allowed us to simply touch her hand.

I wondered why H.E. was so boogie. Could be, he was also remembering his younger days. But, I read he had again gone to consult Robert.

There surely must be a new Robert around. The Robert I know is no different from my grandmother. You see my grandmother always has an upside down view of democratic political choices and governance. In the January 20, 2015 presidential elections, when she heard that the incumbent won, she rounded us up to find out who the culprit among us was.

“How could he win, when I had crossed him out? He personally told me he had no vision, so I put a cross against his name to show my displeasure”. What could we say? She is grandma, a very wise elderly. Sometimes, not very different from Robert.

In case there are those who do not know who Robert is. Robert Mugabe is that firebrand African president we so admired this side of the world. He became president of Zimbabwe in 1987. This is one of the very few African presidents who could tell Western world leaders to disappear if they did not like him or how he was governing his country. The one that talked more Karl Marx speak than Karl Marx himself. The one that claimed he fought and suffered for the independence of Zimbabwe more than any other Zimbabwean so he has to be president for life. Remember Ian Smith claimed he fought for the independence of Rhodesia, too. But I guess he was delusional.

We admired this fellow Robert then, but not now. Not because he has over stayed as president, but because his relevance was then, not now. Some may disagree with me, but this is one fellow that nearly brought Zimbabwe down to be a basket case. But thanks to the vibrancy and functional literacy of Zimbabweans, they persevered and still do.

We seriously need to ask our president what exactly he hopes to learn from this fellow that upholds visages of dictatorship. Perhaps, it is to do with his admission that he does not have enough wisdom, so he has to consult elders. But, surely Desmond Tutu or Uhuru Kenyatta would be more appropriate.

Or is the insatiable hunger for political hegemony the lessons he is getting from Mugabe? The pursuit of political hegemony necessitates that one attracts every sundry of political opportunists even if they disgusted one a minute ago, as long as they can help sustain one’s dominance.

It surely does not make sense that a political party in government that petitioned some parliamentary seats on the grounds of electoral corruption, can today embrace the same persons it alleged are corrupt. This is a party in government that even re-opened some closed corruption cases against the very persons that are now being accepted into the party.

Is the, “Only God who appointed me will remove me" mantra from Robert a lesson we are witnessing as learnt? If not, how else can we understand the fact that the return of hyenas does not seem to worry our ‘corruption averse’ president?

Sorry! According to Dr Francis Manda, though offensive, MP’s ditching their parties are like hyenas looking for fecal excreta. And who am I not to quote a very eminent person on our political landscape. After all, Dr Manda is a master in symbolic expression.

So for now, let us watch the hyena show. But be heedful that, like I observed in “Of hyenas and fecal matter”, the best I know about hyenas, is to run when one is in sight. We, the voters, should always take to our heels when a hyena is in sight! Let us not be prey to political hegemony.

Verbum satis sapienti - a word to the wise suffices.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

House No 1159

“Xenophobia is a tragic failure of reason of which mixed space it is after all, we even kill for.” - God, Life & Reason

OFF late the residential address, House No 1159 has been on my mind, and I wondered why. But now I know. It is all because of the rantings from some assumed man of the cloth.

House No 1159 is where we resided in New Ndeke, Kitwe from 1969 to the early 70s. This is after we moved from an old colonial very tiny house in what was then called old Ndeke. We had moved into this colonial very tiny house that had a toilet provision for banyamazai in 1968.

From House No 1159, I could always see the Catholic Chapel at the end of the road. Come Sunday, literally everybody in our neighbourhood would be at the Chapel. This was a time before the “nisanga naiwe kuti wansaga” yellow preacher howlers, a time when church was a sincere and non-threatening affair. There were no threats of eternal damnation. In hindsight, I really don’t understand why these fellows had to howl that, they have found Jesus, and we could also find him. We did find him, else we would not have been trooping to the Chapel.

House No 1159 was the birth of awareness of neighbourliness and togetherness, and the church at the end of the street was the concentrate of this awareness. In House No 1159 and in all the houses in the neighbourhood there was no tribe. Of course our parents, when socialising together, always made snide remarks of which group of people were the nyamazai the most, who was insolent and uncouth the most, who downed lion larger the most, or who sent children to have their willies cut the most. Didn’t bother us much as kids. After all, we all admired Shumpi irrespective of her tribe, we all marveled at the driving exploits of chabwela kumanda, we all wished we could also go to mukanda as it seemed a nice break from school (we really didn’t know at the time that, that is where willies were cut. If we did, I don’t think we would have wanted to go)!

Huh! Come to think of it. Most now do chilanga mulilo, matebeto. Wonder if the assumed man of the cloth ever thinks of this. I doubt it.

Sorry for the digression. These now very aged parents are excused for their expressions of xenophobia at that time. But the assumed man of the cloth cannot be excused.

We should understand that for most of these now aged fellows, this was the first time they were living in a space populated by people from different cultural heritage. To them that the other behaved differently was as confusing as being told you need to find Jesus when you already found and knew him. The assumed man of the cloth cannot be surely confused in these days and times. Sic.

The now aged fellows learned to co-exist. They were in the same space and for the pursuit of their professional endeavours, perhaps there was nothing they could do about it. The only option they had was to crawl back to whatever village they came from. Most could not take this option, not because they were scared of being bewitched as they were now comparatively wealthy (as it was thought then), but because learning to accept the cultural differences in this new socio-political economy provided a future for their children that was deemed far much better than the village.

They also accepted their cultural differences, principally because of their firm determination to move the country forward. Most of these fellows were strong idealists, nationalists. Cultural differences were conquerable, and in it they saw a potential for development.

In the memory of House No 1159, I know that not all of these now aged fellows accepted the reality of cultural mixing. For some, tribal supremacy was their mantra. Lately we have witnessed some of these fellows rear their ugly heads. And perhaps, it is such aged fellows that the assumed man of the cloth is trying to emulate. He surely must be living on a different planet.

Happily for most that dwelled in houses like House No 1159, they know that only a hungry mangy dog when beaten does not snap at its master, instead it puts its tail between the legs, and licks the master’s feet.

That the word tribe is now vogue, simply because some politicians in some assumed dominant party had precarious hang on the pendulum side of defeat is tragic. It defeats reason. Clearly, the assumed man of the cloth is championing a logic distant from House No 1159. The term tribe has historically often used to refer to colonised, oppressed, or subjugated groups of people. The term tribe has a negative connotation. It is a term that historically was used to refer to what was perceived as inferior groups of people.

The assumed man of the cloth is desecrating House No 1159. We refuse to be deemed inferior. We are not hungry mangy dogs, we refuse to be. We grew up in culturally mixed spaces, we loved each other and we still do. Deep in our conscience we still live at House No 1159.

Well, perhaps the assumed man of the cloth does not know the sanctity of House No 1159 or that under the Penal Code Act of Zambia his rantings are seditious intent[1].

Thus, it must categorically be understood that when a people are pushed to be mangy dogs, like the assumed man of the cloth seems to be doing, many will seek refuge in the comfort of their heritage, and not lick the master’s feet. There will be no culturally mixed space.

Think again. Verbum satis sapient - a word to the wise suffices.

Ora pro nobis.

[1] Section 60(1) Seditious intention, (e) to raise discontent or disaffection among the people of Zambia; or (f) to promote feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities or different parts of a community; or (g) to promote feelings of ill will or hostility between different classes of the population of Zambia.