Opinion / Columnist
Mujuru's impending trip to Chatham House where she hopes to impress her British benefactors
17 Sep 2016 at 12:29hrs | Views
THE Tongas have a good saying: Hearts are not far from concord when noses have already fraternised. Let me open my gonamombe, pull out the lid of the cow-horn canister, so you the reader and me, can share the snuff by which we summon our ancestors. We need them around us for the evil hour returneth. Before long and after our snuff, our hearts will gladly mate in amity. But the burden of supplying the snuff is mine.
Yours is to open and extend the hand of your mind so you receive this week's rich offering.
I trust the mudhombo made from the burnt stalks of tall tobacco grown on anthills, was administered in right proportion for a good leavening, so the snuff is to our nostrils' delight, assuring us of a mutual sensation that bores right through to the inner reaches of our persons. We both know the laughter of happy, well-fed nostrils. It comes by way of loud, wet sneezes that send darts of mucous wrapped in saliva flying, all to water and grow our friendship. After which in unison we both say "sikizi!", with a mutual giggle that throws back our torsos in mutual prop, exposing our broken teeth burnished iron rusty-brown by years of gnawing snuff. Even our little eyes water in delight, happily seduced by this powdery invention of our forefathers.
Pronouncing "sikizi" in unison
And "sikizi" was my late mother's way of expressing and satisfying all the exigencies of decency, after a dart of saliva would have accidentally landed on the face of an unsuspecting fellow villager, who eagerly waiting for her turn to pull of draught of machwara, the potent village brew, finds herself in the path of catapulted saliva. A real dilemma. One had to be near enough, nay, part of the enchanted circle of bonhomie drinkers. But the downside came by way of the perilous proximity that placed you within pathway and range of wet exhalations from a rich, snuff-induced sneeze. Still too small a price to pay. "Sikizi" was the closest my half-drunk mother could get to pronouncing the white man's "excuse me", all done in the hope of making an impression on the half-drunk village: a display of sophistication that comes with awareness of the white man's ways, all of it never acquired through direct contact with the white man, but vicariously through her son - me - who had travelled far to eat big book which contains the secrets and mannerisms of the white man. Including rules of his etiquette invoked soon after an involuntary intemperance such as this.
Honour to a better mother of better scion
Being in filial neighbourhood, my mother - the owner of the womb that bore such a wonderful son who had mastered the ways of the white man - would closely watch my new ways acquired from the white man, secretly rehearse my affected "Excuse me!" said politely after every mishap - for a garbled re-issuance at a beer party in the village and away from me, where anything remotely smelling European passes with remarkable ease, winning lofty awe for the sayer - my exhibitionistic mother! After the loud imperfection so haughtily put, her eyes, inexorably receding from consuming pride and drink but keenly watchful, would scan and survey all around her, all in the expectation of deep awe and regard she surely merited. Much like a tax-collector owed a lot by way of tribute! And praises would come her way - without fail - transporting her to the lofty pedestal reserved for rare mothers whose wombs know how to sire well. Not these other women of the village whose good-for-nothing-scions looked and behaved like they had been born through the fleshless, hard- and long-boned mipimbira - shins - in the process getting mentally and morally warped. Did their children not kill precious time chasing after village brew they could not even afford? All the time getting drunk on leftovers? Not Nyari, the Mother of Nathaniel!
This complex woman who was my mother
She was a very sharp woman - sharp of mind and mouth - and always bragged before my rather quiet and bashful (or henpecked?) father that I owed more than half my good mind to her, brains which had made me go far - very far - with books. But she was very complex in speech and mannerisms. One was never clear when she was genuinely aping "excuse me", or mocking those like me who incongruously repeated the phrase in front of elders of the village; those who dared utter it in front of an elderly, uneducated couple that, save for their generosity, would never have seen the sun and this earth. For her it was who readily dished in retrospect the chilling threat of crushing you in her womb, many, many moons after you had left it, indeed long after you had become too, too big to re-enter it, even with the best of intentions! Nxa, dei ndakakupwanyira mudumbu, she would roar! Or maybe she was mocking the white man, himself the owner of the phrase of pseudo-politeness, for ever thinking his language would have travelled all the way from beyond the big waters, crossing dunes, hills and vleis, passing clans and kraals of numerous totems, tongues and manners, and then to finally land on the hot, stubby Savannah clime where donhwe raSarirambi resides, but without expecting any modicum of deference to Shona phonology.
Clasping hands of old grannies
Gentle reader, I bet my last daughter - sorry dollar - that you missed Tendai Biti's last weekend remarks in Bulawayo where he braggingly told his sparse audience of his exploits in shaking hands of "old grannies" running for the US presidency. Of course this was a reference to Mai Clinton, the wife of Bill who is also a presumptive presidential candidate in US elections which, though so near by clock, is proving yet so far for her by the clock of wellness – her wellness. She was forebodingly taken ill on 9/11, a date of great augury in America's recent history. When you people get to know, bragged the impetuous Biti, whose hands these tiny African hands have clasped, you will ask in awe how so young a politician, so young a party, both have gone this high and far! Evidently self-pleased and fully consumed, he told his audience how he had enjoyed the unusual honour of being invited and given a seat at the US Democratic Convention held last July, at which event he managed to shake the hand of Mai Clinton. If she goes in, bragged on the young politician, tapinda tapinda (we have entered, we have entered)! Gentle reader, at the risk of indecency, I have deliberately refrained from giving you the meaning sense of "tapinda, tapinda", which would be "we are in, we are in", all to capture the characteristic crudeness of the native tongue of this rough son of this land. I am sure you haven't forgotten his writ threats to ZiFM, not too long ago, by which he threatened "to sue the station" to the nhingirikiri! Let me catch a breath by taking something to appease and quieten the itch of my big, snuff-powdered nose. Fuuu-u! It's good snuff, this one from the hand and notes of vamaMacharika, my grandmother of the Gumbo clan, daughter of Denhere. May her soul rest in peace evermore.
In this land of Mwenemutapa?
Ruffled reader, this is no laughing matter. Here we have a politician angling to rule this great nation of Mwenemutapa - The-owner-and-author-of-conquest - bragging about foreign patronage! What womb bore her, this one? And what is more, hoping to be passively hoisted to power by the outcome of US presidential race! Not by your vote. Not even by the tajamukas of this world. Simply by a US Democratic candidate's presumptive electoral fortunes! And bragging about such raise on the back of foreign interests which stand to be appeased by our soul, resources and hard-won sovereignty! I wonder where his father was during the war of liberation. He could be a true chip off an accursed block. Cry the beloved country. And a lawyer at that? My goodness! This column has maintained that the repeatedly flummoxed opposition has ceased thinking in terms of winning power lawfully, democratically. Not even thinking of subjecting itself to the electoral process. They know this is a dead end, whether they act singly or in concert, and doing so even now when the odds are heavily staked against Zanu-PF. They have chosen the sinister route of enlisting foreign support and even intervention, which is why all their acts - largely verging on the unlawful - are calculated to provide a pretext - beggarly pretext - for an equivalent of Resolution 1973 by which Libya's sovereignty was violated, its body raped by the West. Just a few weeks ago, this column gave you a glimpse of what would happen should events tend in, or even tentatively suggest such direction. I know it sends a chill, but let it be known this nation was born of war. That its children have seen blood, sacrificed before, much as they may deceptively exhibit peacetime languor at presence. Both violence and foreign intrusion will not work here, which is why we are all better advised to do our politics within the walls of the law. My mouth never falls to the ground and, like the bulging womb of a mature woman, expect a child at the end of it all.
When Providence intervened
Of course Providence is always Zimbabwean, something prophecies have repeatedly confirmed. Within that week of Biti's brag, Hillary is taken ill, ostensibly by pneumonia. She wobbles out of 9/11, itself a dramatic metaphor of a broader misfortune. As her knees fail her small body, Trump catches up in a dramatic sprint which sees the two candidates panting neck-to-neck and, with that peripeteia, Zimbabwean oppositional fortunes tumbling headlong in sympathy! Not only do the fortunes of Biti cave in like a weakly supported concrete deck; his other granny - Mai Mujuru - is taken ill! I bet by my white heart, it was not Manheru's snuff-filled sneeze which got her to catch a cold. No, the sneeze that infected her came from afar - from distant America - which is what made her an extended patient of Hillary's pneumonia. She better be well, what with an impending trip to Chatham House where she hopes to impress her British benefactors, thanks to one Alex Vines. And what impresses the British is sure to nail her here on home stretch where power is got or lost. Kikikiki, seka zvako muzukuru waChiwashira wakachekwa nemakiwa!
All united by the stethoscope
Talking about illness and politicians, this latest illness completes the cycle, does it not? Mate, give me more snuff, preferably from the bottom of the horn whence comes pinches of mature doses. Extend your hand, let me pinch from your palm, in the process soldering friendship. The politically bickering opposition can now unite around the less divisive stethoscope. All of them! And this man from Buhera? Asekuru! He must watch his mouth when it comes to Mugabe. When it comes to talking about his own death, like he did last week to dramatise a non-existent danger of a political crackdown. Before long we shall tell the world what the old man did not too far back to check his otherwise inexorable march to the cemetery. He should not provoke us. A hunter who follows a zebra that is in flight has braved his spear, is sure to meet a lion around the blind corner from which the zebra emerged!
From "A" to "R"
The Members of European Parliament, MEP for short, what are they up to? Did anyone read their turgid draft resolution threatening Zimbabwe with renewed sanctions? A very long draft resolution, one which nearly exhausted all the letters of the alphabet. I mean items from "A" to "R", all capsulising events of the past few weeks, punctuated by sojourns at GPA we had all forgotten about, Biti (again?)'s much vaunted tenure at Finance ministry, Dzamara, right up to NERA and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and its strange pronouncements. At the base of it all, Mugabe's unpardonable crime: that he "has been in power since Independence in 1980 and is seeking re-election"! And not forgetting "Pastor" Evan Mawarire who is, thanks to the American Embassy here, is mobilising some funny demonstrations in New York meant to redeem him from his shameful record of "great betrayal". Together with the Dzamaras and many others travelling on US largesse, thanks to Ambassador Thomas! Of course it will come to naught, although the calculation was that this puny effort would get an echo here at home by way of violent protests calculated to burn Harare. The build-up started last week, with one Mackenzie of CNN doing a hatchet job, after breaking national laws, all to land here for media-led mischief. Of course all this harkens to 2007/8, and is part of a build-up to the imagined electoral victory of Hillary Clinton, a co(re)-sponsor of ZDERA
Off to Chatham House
Meanwhile the British, through Chatham House, are doing their own thing, beginning of course with Joice as already hinted, to be followed by the overrated Evan Mawarire. In the social media, the country continues to be subjected to instances of virtual terrorism, and lost of scare-mongering by way of hare-brained claims that Government intends to tax Zimbabweans in the diaspora. Or to seize their assets here or those of their relatives in the event of non-compliance or defaulting. You have to be an out and out fool to credit Government with powers to effect extra-territorial taxation. And also to find a law within our statutes that makes people liable for tax evasion, avoidance or defaults by consanguinity! But that is how mad the campaign is. Or how contemptuous of our intellect those behind it are. And silently, confidently, the arms of the law stalks all these illegal actors whose hour glasses are at different levels! We shall see. Meanwhile, pass me my snuff horn for another pinch, nekuti iwe neni tine basa.
Source - Nathaniel Manheru-
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