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The people need meetings, not rallies

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Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 by Mgcini Nyoni

I attended a National Youth Development Trust (NYDT) organized Youth Peace Convention on the 29th and 30th of September at the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, Bulawayo at which the only visible minister of the very toothless and useless organ on ‘National Healing’ spoke. But that’s not what I want to talk about.

On the second day we had representatives from ZAPU, MDC, MDC Tsvangirai and ZANU PF. The ZAPU and MDC guys were eloquent, but I have forgotten what they talked about; which means it was useless. The MDC Tsvangirai guy made a total fool of himself: He kept saying ‘the smaller MDC’ and referred to ZANU PF as the opposition party; implying that his party was the ruling party. Really? We must be the only country in the world where the ‘ruling party’ does not actually rule. I sat there getting very confused; if MDC Tsvangirai is the ruling party, why don’t they control the army and the police and everything else actually. He rudely dismissed the MDC and ZAPU and said their agenda as a party was ZANU PF, not the insignificant small parties. And I thought their agenda like all of us was Zimbabwe!

When it was the turn of the ZANU PF guy, Fundisani Dewa (youth secretary for economic affairs) to speak, he spoke eloquently about how he had spend the last two weeks in a ZANU PF prison. I happen to have remembered this guy’s name because I have known him for years and I didn’t know he was ZANU PF: But I should have suspected that his success was not hard-earned. I guess by mentioning that he was in prison, he was angling for our sympathy. He conveniently forgot that his arrest was totally different to the arrest we always cry about. Him and other youths have been taking over buildings in Bulawayo and that’s surely illegal and he deserved to be arrested. I guess he is bitter because ZANU PF does not arrest its own over something as ‘commendable’ as taking over white men’s property: Fundisani and others must be victims of the infighting that has rocked ZANU PF of late.

The question that we were left asking was that if ZANU PF can do that to its own, what’s in store for those who belong to the opposition parties. When the question of Gukurahundi was raised, he said we should let bygones be bygones. He hastened to add that he had been born in Khami prison during Gukurahundi and that he didn’t know his father. I guess his reasoning for being part of ZANU PF is that it can make him rich. Does it make sense? I am a victim of Gukurahundi myself and what I would want is Affirmative Action; we need to catch up to our Shona brothers who have had an undisturbed path to success. Fundisani is taking his Affirmative Action now and who are we to judge him.

I left the convention wondering if the people knew what their parties were all about and felt it was of urgent necessity to organize meetings between parties and the people. Not rallies, but meetings were people can engage their ‘leaders’ and bring them to account.

The brilliance of Tuku

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Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Mgcini Nyoni

I stumbled upon the information that Oliver Mtukudzi is the highest selling artist in Southern Africa. I knew he is well respected the world over, but the highest selling? It made sense; the man is a musical genius.

I remember when I was in South Africa a few years back I noticed that all the good music stores had a whole shelf of Oliver Mtukudzi music and his CDs were much more expensive than those of say Hugh Masekela. Oliver Mtukudzi sings entirely in Shona. That means the majority of his fans do not understand him, at least on a lyrical level. His musical arrangements are so brilliant; I would love instrumentals of his if he released an instrumental album.

But his genius is in his lyrics:

mhiripiri ine munakiro wayo/kana sugar inemanakiro ayo/munyu une manakiro awo/kuvava kuvava hayo mhiripiri, inga ndomanakiro ayo/kutapira kutapira hayo sugar inga ndomasikirwo ayo/kuvavira kuvavira hawo munyu nokuti manakiro  awo…mukurarama katifanani/kana chimiro hachifanani/kana mhuka dzesango hadzifanani/ndomasikirwo acho/saka tisashorane mukurarama/tisasekana mukurarama/tinzwisisane mukurarama/

Roughly translated the Shona lyrics are: chilies are delicious in their own way/sugar is delicious in its own way/salt is delicious in its own way/chilies are hot and they are delicious that way/sugar is sweet and it’s delicious that way/salt is delicious in its own way…in life we are not the same/we are not the same in build/even wild animals are different/ that’s the way they were created/so let’s not look down upon each other in life/let’s not laugh at each other/let’s live in harmony together…

It’s a song that speaks directly to Zimbabweans; we are highly intolerant of each other’s divergent views, opinions and differences along tribal lines, political lines and so on. We have taken on the bad habits of our leaders who go to extreme lengths to eliminate political opponents and this has led to bloody elections all the time. It’s a vicious cycle that will continue long after we have gotten rid of the current leadership.

There is another song of Mtukudzi’s that has got a message along the same lines:

Buda pachena munun’una vagoziva zvaunofunga/ asika wochinzwawo zvavanofunga/kubudirana pachena muzukuru kuteera nekuteera/ naivo vachanzwawo/torawo mukana wokuteera zvinotaurawo vamwe/ worega kuropodza/ kuropodza zvisina maturo / chinonzi hurukuro/ kutaura tichinzwana/ votaura iwe uchiteerera/wotaurawo ivo vachiteerera…

… Come out young brother so we can know what you think/but also listen to what they think/being clear with each other is listening and listening/they will hear you/take time to listen to what others say/ stop rumbling on and on/ rumbling on senselessly/conversation is understanding each other/others talk while you listen/you talk and others listen…

One of our biggest weaknesses is talking down to people and not giving a damn about what they have to say. When was the last time your local MP listened to what you had to say? When was the last the time the people of Zimbabwe openly criticised the president without everyone in the vicinity scurrying for cover and fearing for the speaker’s life?

Oliver Mtukudzi’s songs are so full of meaning and I have enjoyed them for decades; ever since I was a little boy. Songs like Nhava talk of the Diaspora in a very enlightening manner. Songs like Bindu are just brilliant! Those who did not grow up listening to Tuku, as he is affectionately known, think he got onto the music scene in 1998 with the release of the highly successful album Tuku Music, but the man has been around. Remember Mbombela? Remember the soundtrack to the Movie Neria? I was born in the Ghetto, my mum in the Ghetto, my heart in the Ghetto, so you can call me the Ghetto boy…

Wild assumptions

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Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Mgcini Nyoni

I spent most of my life in Mutare even though I was born in Bulawayo and I am now a permanent resident of Bulawayo. This places me at a distinct advantage: I am very familiar with both the Shona and Ndebele worlds. There are a lot of things that both sides do not know about each and wild assumptions that damage relations are made.

Considering the history of Matabeleland: The slaughter of about twenty thousand people, there is always suspicion between Ndebele and Shona and a number of times I have to pull two warring sides apart as I happen to see things in a clearer light than a person who is exclusively Shona or Ndebele. I have a friend who believes every Shona person in Matabeleland is an enemy, planted in Matabeleland as part of the Gukurahundi agenda (the total disempowerment of the Ndebele people by flooding the region with Shona people and making sure that Ndebeles do not get any opportunities).

I cannot say for sure that the Gukurahundi agenda does not exist, but I believe individuals should be judged on individual merit not broadly based on the sins of a few mad people who did not have the people’s mandate to do what they did.

When my friend suggested that I happen to get opportunities because I have one leg in the Shona world and the other in the Ndebele world I knew the Shona-Ndebele thing had gone too far; I happen to have worked abnormally hard and continue to do so to get to where I am.  The so-called Gukurahundi agenda is now being used by lazy people who do not exploit opportunities as a crutch.

Whilst it is important to address past and current injustices, we have to remember that were we come from matters less than where we are going.

Tolerance, please

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Monday, November 22nd, 2010 by Mgcini Nyoni

I attended a meeting at Radio Dialogue Offices here in Bulawayo today. By the reception, they had Gays and Lesbians disks they were giving out.

I stood there to observe behaviour patterns. The first of most is to rush forward because the prospect of receiving a free CD is attractive. But on realising they are Gays and Lesbians CDs the people were retreating as if there was a snake in the box.

The level of intolerance to what we do not know or understand is shocking. I casually commented that there was no harm in taking the CDs and at least make informed decisions – I was given murderous looks!

We need to examine ourselves as a people. As much as I might not like what my brother enjoys, I will fight to the death his right to enjoy it.

Hairdressers, armed robbery and human rights

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Thursday, November 11th, 2010 by Mgcini Nyoni

This other day a middle aged woman was having her hair done in the small salon I run. She was discussing her life story with the hair dresser and I happened to overhear them.

This woman had just been released from prison for armed robbery (she insists she was innocent – on that particular occasion). After putting her and her colleagues in leg irons and handcuffs they shot her twice in the abdomen. They covered her head with a sack, dunked her into a drum of water and electrocuted her. After that she was ready to admit to any crime that she was accused of.

“You can sue them you know”, I suggested.

A local guy who was close by laughed derisively.

“Sue? Sue who? Chihuri signed, the police can shoot to kill!’ He confidently said.

I was shocked. I could not believe the level of ignorance amongst ordinary Zimbabweans. I carefully explained how the justice system works and Chihuri had no authority whatsoever when it came to legislation on how the police handle suspects. A law that allows police officers to shoot a suspect who is not shooting at them can never be passed anywhere in the world, I explained.

The guy was adamant.

“Policemen shoot people at will; they will beat you up, anything…”

“Just because they do it, does not make it right,” I interjected.

What I realized that day is that people do not have information as to their basic human rights and that is one area that civic society should focus on; educating the masses on their basic human rights.

The police should not touch you and in the event that they do, you can sue them!

Your father

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Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Mgcini Nyoni

Your father
is a man in a red beret
Carrying a rifle
a bayonet affixed
blood dripping
A belly slit open.
Your father
is the man in the red beret
trained in Korea
there is blood
and hair
on his boots
An old man’s head
kicked in.
Your father
carries a smoldering gun
the villagers lie dead
They said
they don’t know
were the dissidents are
Your father is the man
in the red beret
forcing  the villagers to sing
as they dig mass graves
for their mothers, fathers…
Your father’s stiff thing
burned into me
at age fifteen:
To emphasise his conquest
he whispered his
name into my ear
as I lay writhing in pain.
Your father
now an army captain
27 years ago
Chopped Mkhluli to pieces
the boy
not a Dissident
who had made
my loins
burn with desire
Your father
27 years ago
gunned down a mere shopkeeper
for being a dissident
Your father
was the man in a red beret
who extinguished
all feelings
of love
of desire
of hope.
and despair remain.
Your father
was the man in a red beret
who killed everything
in his path,
including chickens and goats.

© Mgcini Nyoni 2010