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Fined $400 for killing someone: this is Zimbabwe

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Fungai Tichawangana is widely admired and respected in Zimbabwe. At Kubatana we’ve been a fan of his for a long time. Why? He’s creative, energetic, community spirited and a real contributor to Zimbabwe’s cultural and artistic life.

Earlier this year, his equally talented, and lovely wife, Shingie was killed in a car accident in Harare. I hesitate in using the word accident. Fungai’s wife was killed by a drunk driver. A man who was fined US$400 and had his license suspended for 6 months. Fungai pointed out to us that people who steal a cow go to jail. But not this drunk driver.

The driving on our roads is generally criminal. Of course our country’s failing infrastructure doesn’t help matters. Nor does the selective policing of our roads help. Take the semi-permanent “roadblock” outside Borrowdale Junior School as an example. My last encounter with the police at this roadblock boiled down to a waiting game. They wanted to fine me for not having a light illuminating my number plate. When I asked for a ticket they couldn’t produce one but they did want $20. To pocket no doubt. The stand-off lasted several minutes until they got bored.

Instead of Bribe Roadblocks the Zimbabwean police would do well to protect road users from people in various states of drunkenness leaving night clubs, restaurants, taverns, beerhalls, office parties and discos. In a blog awhile ago I mentioned a banner I saw in Avondale. The banner was publicising a night club in Strathaven. Their slogan was Don’t Think, Drink. Absolutely disgusting.

In a poem entitled I Am Angry, written in 2008, Shingie wrote passionately about wisdom gone rotten.

Below is a poem from Fungai, entitled I Am Angry Too, about the loss of the love of his life.

I Am Angry Too

I am angry that I took so long to get to this anger
That we let it get so bad-
Not speaking, not asking
Not daring to breathe even
When evil came walking in our direction

That we sighted a wrong
Looked the other way
Heard an injustice
Put heads down in shame

And did not speak
And did not speak
Except in gasps of disbelief
And in muted whispers
As if we it were gossip
When we should have been yelling it to the skies.

I am angry too my love
That they won’t tell drunk drivers to get off the roads
That they fine them paltry sums for taking a life
That people die every day
And we let them go this way

I am angry for your loss of life
So I speak up now and tell the world
And know that you would have done the same
My friend, my love, to death, my wife.

- Fungai Tichawangana

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