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The bane of deadbeat intellectuals

21 Feb 2021 at 06:58hrs | Views
Talent seems to come with more than its fair share of baggage.

Most often than not, gifted personalities belong to a pantheon of living gods that wow the world during their time in the limelight but wrestle their own demons away from the public glare.

When they eventually leave the stage, they are remembered more for the good memories they leave behind than the litany of jarring personal tragedies, misfortunes and tear-jerking tales they leave in their wake.

Bad luck is always their dreaded, unwanted and tormenting stalker.

Whichever part of the world it might be, the stories are invariably the same.

On November 22, 1986, a 20-year-old black American with the hands of iron punched his way to become the youngest boxing heavyweight champion in the world.

For the record, Bishop Lazarus does not support boxing, as he views it as a violent sport, but he was fascinated and drawn to the "sweet science" as British sports writer Pierce Egan called it after Mike Tyson's whirlwind success in the late 80s and early 90s.

In 1987, the young prodigy added the WBA and IBF titles to the WBC he had won a year earlier.

To this day, he holds the enviable distinction of being the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the three titles and successively unify them.

He also successfully defended his heavyweight championship nine times.

Earlier in 1981 and 1982, not only did the hard-hitting Phenom win the Junior Olympic Games, but he won every match by knockout, earning the record for the quickest knockout when he literally floored Michigan-based pugilist Joe Cortez after just eight (8) seconds in the final of the 1981 Games.

Knockouts were a specialty and trademark that made him a respected and feared monster in the boxing ring.

Perhaps his most iconic fight was his rematch with British boxer Frank Bruno on March 16, 1996, where the challenger succumbed to a fiery 13-punch volley in the third round, which forced the referee to stop the match.

The damage was, however, already done.

Bruno never stepped in the boxing ring again after doctors advised him he risked going blind due to injuries he had sustained from the monstrous onslaught by "Iron Mike".

But before his meteoric rise to stardom, Mike Tyson was a troubled soul who struggled to escape the clutches of a very troubled upbringing.

He never knew his father and by the time he turned 13, he had been arrested more than 30 times.

His life seemed doomed until he fortuitously met trainer Constantine "Cus" D'Amato when he was in juvenile detention.

Cus did not only become his guardian when his mother died in 1982, but a guardian angel who was able to cage the monster in Mike Tyson and only channel it in boxing matches.

Although his demons never leaved him, they were sufficiently tamed to enable him to have a modicum of a normal life.

In his autobiography, "Iron Ambition: My Life with Cus D'Amato", published in May 2017, the boxer described how strict and firm his mentor was:
"I was petrified when I was alone with him . . . If he called me 'Mike, I need to talk to you' I didn't feel good going over to him. That is when he would start giving me his detailed criticisms of my fights. People see the public celebrations of my sensational knockouts but they don't hear Cus talking to me alone after the fight."

When Cus died on November 4, 1985, Tyson's demons became untethered.

Although he went on to score epoch-defining milestones, his career slowly began to unravel.

Tyson had a tumultuous marriage to actress Robin Simone Givens, and at one time, he was knocked down by a car, suffered an embarrassing defeat to Buster Douglas in February 1990, before he was arrested two years later for rape. After he was released in 1995, he went on to have one of the most inglorious exits from boxing after chewing off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear in a losing bout in 1997. Kikikiki.

But misfortunes still stick to him like glue. As recent as May 2009, his four-year-daughter died in a freak accident when she was tangled in a cord while she was playing on a treadmill at home.

Mortal duels

Back home, our own talented personalities, particularly artistes, are often involved in fiery duels with their own nagging demons.

Who can forget musician Paul Matavire's rape case, which saw him caged in 1989, after which he released the album "Back from College".

The legendary sungura maestro Simon Chimbetu was also jailed for four years after being arrested and convicted in 1993 on four counts of receiving stolen property.

Need the Bishop mention Tongai Moyo, whose misfortunes kept repeating themselves with obscene regularity.

And then there was Soul Musaka, known by the trade name Soul Jah Love, whose demise captivated the nation last week.

Again Bishop Lazi is not into his type of music but he grudgingly acknowledged his superior talent that is now immortalised in the works he leaves behind.

Regrettably, his life was unsurprisingly one big tragedy. But literary artistes are a fascinating special class that are arguably the most troubled or tormented by their demons because they live in their head.

The idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of characters such as Charles Mungoshi and Dambudzo Marechera were quite apparent.

You see, novelists real novelists, and not those toxic types that spend their time on social media platforms are gifted with the ability to dispassionately see through the world for what it is without any prejudices.

This is why they have that distinguishable ability to create an imaginable reality.

They say and call the world for what it truly is.

Blind scholarship

It is these people that the Bishop believes more than some of our hare-brained intelligentsia, some of whom kicked up unnecessary dust over the Sinopharm vaccine that had been delivered from China last week.

They have become the vectors of misinformation and unfortunately devalue the integrity of scholarship through pedestrian reasoning that does not provide the much-needed thought leadership.

Whenever we have critical national discussions, they always bring heat and not light, cynicism and not constructive criticism, and disillusionment rather than hope.

And because of their toxicity, most people always walk away from these unhelpful discussions. 2 Timothy 2:23-26 duly warns us of "stupid and "foolish arguments": "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."

Our intelligentsia, perhaps because it was raised on an ideological diet of Western scholarship, norms and culture, has always sold out by failing to guide the developmental aspirations of our country from the land reform programme, the indigenisation policy and the current zeitgeist to economically develop the nation, region and continent.

Instead of being the vanguards of Africa's renaissance, they are only content to be extensions of Western scholarship and interests, which often work at cross-purposes with our own interests.

The Bishop has never been so disappointed as he was when he read Professor Aurthur Mutambara's recent article on Covid-19 vaccine development.

"The tragedy of it all in the matter of vaccines is that there is no African country or black-owned company producing a Covid-19 vaccine.

"The African is an observer, a subject and not a participant in vaccine development.

"This is a terrible indictment of all us people of African descent. Shame on us!" he boldly declared.

Adding: "That there is a black doctor working on the vaccine at-PFizer is irrelevant and inconsequential.

"An African country or black-owned company producing a vaccine that is what we need . . . It will also give us agency and control as Africans."

Fair and fine, but honestly, who does he expect to do these things?

For someone as accomplished as he is and with considerable intellectual heft having been once engaged at the US' famed NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a research scientist and being a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is a mecca for geeks and world-renowned academics what practical things has he done for the continent beyond mere treatises?

It is high time our intelligentsia mutates from political activists and armchair critics to be the shining light they ought to be.

A deadbeat intelligentsia is part of the problem, and not the solution, for Africa.

Bishop out!

Source - sundaymail
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