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Sidney Malunga did not surrender his dignity

30 Dec 2018 at 10:08hrs | Views
"......During the genocide years, Sidney Malunga was imprisoned, tortured and put on trial for treason. He was finally acquitted, in time to see his party absorbed by the 'new' ZANU-PF. He could have walked away, but instead he walked into a hostile parliament and took his seat. He knew that the honourable members to the left and to the right of him had sanctioned breathtaking acts of barbarism on his people. Many rubbed it in his face – he told me that one regularly spoke of 'the cockroaches' when he approached – a reference to the systematic dehumanisation of the Ndebele people before and during the genocide. Far easier for young soldiers to stomach the atrocities if they perceived their victims as vermin.

But Sidney did not surrender his dignity, in spite of the clear and present danger. The smell of cordite and blood was still fresh on both sides, victor and vanquished. Even after the 'ceasefire', Mugabe's minions had found an ingenious way to quietly terminate high ranking former members of the defunct-PF-ZAPU. Their cars would be involved in high speed head-on collisions with armoured vehicles or freight trucks; the number of such 'unfortunate accidents' was mounting. Sidney's profile fit the bill for such an end, and he had received less than veiled threats and tip-offs of an imminent attempt on his life.

Sidney was loved by his people. He never backed down, and continued to ask hard questions in and out of parliament.  No-one could or would accuse him of being a 'sell-out'. When Sidney walked through the streets, he stopped for anyone, any colour, gender, age, social standing; I watched him commiserate with an elderly white woman who had just lost her husband, and equally engage with a dusty street child. He always had a ready smile and easy manner, never in so much of a hurry that he wouldn't stop and listen.

He told me: "Be true to yourself first, and you cannot but be true to others. If you witness a wrong, never avert your eyes. Remember what you have seen and keep it vivid in your mind. Refuse to be silenced. Refuse, until there is some justice, or until you are dead."

Sidney and his driver died in mysterious circumstances in 1994 – Jacob* reportedly swerved for 'a black dog' and slammed into a lamp post. 'Black dog' was to become a euphemism for 'army truck'.

I joined thousands of mourners at a packed White City Stadium service. Sidney had stipulated in his will that, no matter what condition his body was in, he must have an open coffin. For years afterwards I was sorry that I did not avert my eyes. But now I understand – it's just as he said. The more vivid the memory of a wrong, the more it will keep tugging, tugging, until you do something about it....." Lala ngokuthula, Mr Malunga.

(* 'Jacob': not real name)

Source - Jacob: not real name
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