My wife and I are in Zimbabwe on a diplomatic mission. No. Well, kind of. Not really, but well, I have to curb my compulsion to comment politically in my usually open freedom loving manner. Yes, I may say all I can about South Afrika or any other country that interests me, but we are living in Zimbabwe, and well – lets just say – in the words of Bob Marley, “Don’t jump in the water, if you can’t swim.” Who knows what kinds of sharks, snakes and crocodile may lurk in these electronic waterways?
Despite the fact that most crocodiles are now kept in various national amusement parks and mummified in museums, the proverbial deadly bite still lurks out there somewhere. I must still live and we must respect our jobs, for the children, for a better life for all.
It is hard though for me not to speak about the people I am among. To reflect through my poetry or my voice and writing, their struggles, their concerns and their pain. I listen, I observe and I hear too much. The fact is, the people of this Great country are in travail, yet somehow someway they bear it with a dignity that I have not seen in the country I come from. There is so much industriousness, I am inspired. Necessity. What is it that is said about the Mother of Invention?
Paradoxically, part of me also sees Zimbabwe as not being so different from the Republic of South Africa or any other former-colony for that matter. Structurally as well as psychologically, these are spaces and peoples who have been captured purely for the extraction of the minerals and human resources that power the various machines of neo-colonialism – locally as well as globally. Europe and America still under-develops Afrika albeit in much more subtler ways. We now also have the Asian dragons, as well as the parasitic Black bourgeoisie but that is another subject.
Zimbabwe is a large scale farm and mine. South Africa is a mine and a farm too, a golf course, a dirt road, a freeway and a highway for the movement of wealth from the native land to the rest of the world. They are also gardens, playgrounds and sources of almost unlimited social experiments for the sociologists, anthropologists as well as philandeering philanthropists of the world. We have symbolic messiahs as well as perennial bogey-men and persona non-gratas. The Black communities are all places of unspeakable deprivation, depravity and conspicuous debaucheries, where sex, violence and dance moves and sounds are exported globally for the amusement of all and sundry. We are Ousmane Sembene’s God’s Bits Of Wood, placed here to keep the world warm while our own flesh and bones burns to simmering cinders, ashes, to ashes, dust to dust. But I digress.
Let me come back to the land. I am not a good politician. I cannot even call myself an activist anymore, hiding as I do, behind, books, screens and occasional forays into science fiction and mytho-poetic workshops where I am overpaid for recycling the Sacred treasures of my people, my ancestors and the bit of knowledge I have gleaned through books and experience. Other than that, I drift again.
The Land, the Land, the Land. Whose Land is it anyway? from Cape to Cairo, from Mombasa to Cape Coast, from Ghana to Las Palmas, Madagasca to eThekwini from the Congo to the Limpopo, the Nile/Hapi Valley, from the Cameroonian rivers and hills to the River banks where the Dinka and the Shilluk ply their trade in ancient lore and the Dogon glare at near and distant stars – who does this all belong to? If it was once stolen and its people cruelly decimated, can it be restored and all people compensated? Compensated? Who shall be compensated and why and how.
Today at a cafe, where I usually sip my Ethiopian, Kenyan and Zimbabwean coffee. I overheard a white man complaining to his mates that he is the only one in his area whose land has not been indigenized. He added that the promise of compensation and restoration is a pipe dream. No one is being compensated. It is better to sell. But this is another story. This man was talking about not just farms but also shop space in the peri-urban areas which were formerly white-owned.
In a book I reluctantly bought recently, titled Voices of Zimbabwe – The Pain, The Courage, the Hope, edited by Glyn Hunter, Larry Farren and Althea Farren; ( I was reluctant because I saw no Zimbabwean indigenous names on the cover, nor in the contents page, but the shop keeper told me that some stories are actually those of Black people, just edited by the publishers. I bought it anyway, it was cheap and I liked the cover images); anyways, here is a quotation from a chapter titled: A Further Blow to Wildlife and Tourism, subtitled, The Wisdom of the Wild:
“The land has been hurt. Misuse is not to be
excused, and its effects will be long felt
But nature will not be eliminated, even here.
Rain, moss, and time apply their healing bandage
and the injured land at last recovers.
Nature is evergreen, after all.” – Robert Michael Pyle
Oh and lastly, somewhere in the beginning, they even quote Nelson R. Mandela
“The time to build has arrived
the time to build together, and to build each other.”
This is from a chapter entitled This Land is Our Land
For the sake of Diplomacy, let me just leave that there and go pray for a peaceful 22/08/2018 and beyond. Mwari may still hear our cries for Equal Rights and Justice.