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Manheru attacks Nomazulu Thata

22 Oct 2016 at 10:35hrs | Views
One Nomazulu Thata - that angry Zimbabwean beauty whose headgear leaves me breathless - is not too pleased with my snide comments on the sitting arrangement of Joice Mujuru, the leader of Zimbabwe People First. She called my last instalment in which I asked Joice, after Achebe's Okonkwo, to sit like a woman, some act in satanic verse. She pronounced a fatwa against me, the Ayatollah of Femininity, apparently without a sense of irony. Still I love Nomazulu's headgear, and I mean it. I have a real soft spot for dhoeks. The way Thata wraps her head is out of this world and, headgear-wise, she cuts a stunning image of native beauty, of real composed African femininity sure to draw my otherwise niggard admiration. And I am one hell of a hard-to-please guy — a cynic even in given situations. Ask those who know me.

No shifts, no surprises

From her writings, it is clear her self-belief runs deeper than the sartorial. She has an opinion, a stout and robust one too, on events and developments about her, on national politics especially. I used to read her pieces, until I realised carried no creative shifts and surprises, always leading the reader to predictable, anti-establishment conclusions. You don't last too long in the business of writing if your writings resemble dull anger reissued. She seems to believe in the hashtag movement, something I not only abhor, but dismiss with the contempt reserved for all things evanescent, things whose hissing effervescence seek to hide short, superficial life.

She did not foresee that, simply because Mawarire seemed to give her a new idiom against a system she hates so intensely, so unvaryingly. Nomazulu and I can never see eye to eye politically, which is what makes my admiration of the gear on her head – not her head – quite genuine and honestly tendered. Still I give her some attention in this piece, because her reaction to my piece — even if instigated and goaded by some male fool in opposition — affords me an opportunity to point out serious pitfalls in this whole argument raised in defence of women and their rights, but always predicated on a woman and her unrepresentative indiscretions.

Creature conceived at night

She called me a misogynist, a woman hater. Again this comes from her head, not from her headgear which I love and admire, and which to me make a far better showing or impression. I am not being nasty, but simply drawing a clear-cut difference between good mien and bad thoughts. As I write, I am sure her head must be having quite some busy moment, what with Donald Trump and Mohamed Buhari to contend with, apart from me, a creature begot when all African life used to begin at night.

Then, African couples were not adventurous, certainly did not have lodges which now abound in our cities and towns. Only rondavels and cyclical time where human acts fitted definite time slots, took predictable forms, all to predictable, village ends. I, a village boy, bear no surprises, which is why I am such a true chip off the block hewn and chiselled on that dark night before dawn of creation day. Nomazulu belongs to modern days where times are filled with infinite possibilities, human acts wanton and unregulated by the tyranny of night and day.

Groped a long time ago, on a plane!

The all-American, anti-Trump media have done a great deal to dramatise Trump's alleged sins against women, against womankind, which Trump deny rather baldly, certainly badly. Including the sin of groping — groping a woman on a plane, when technology lifts life so perilously close to the heavens, apparently without imparting celestial righteousness to mankind! So, gentle reader, I assume you know the story of Trump and his many women, which thus needs no repeating here, lest Eve's descendants will think I derive strange, voyeuristic pleasure in their trauma and substantial suffering, all of it vicarious.

In these days of women hyper-rights, an injury to one is an injury to all, even if the injury happened many, many moons ago, and the injured party waits for American elections to enter the home stretch before recalling and re-living the injury, face genuinely creased in mortal pain of the long-ago groped. Is that not a fantastic story to tell, hey Nomazulu? At times the whole argument gets a little bit academic, even taxing the reader's willingness to support the cause of womanhood, which is why I am not too keen to feel injured via the mortal injury inflicted on some man folk, whatever common properties the good Lord made us wield, for ease of classification. Indeed each man must carry his cross, something women had better learnt.

When a good turn comes from a misogynist

What may not have reached the good ears of my readers are the Nigerian President's comments, apparently directed at his own household within whose precincts he brooks no controversy. But first, a tribute to the indefatigable President Buhari. The way he has gone after Boko Haram simply shows a soldier-leader who knows how to wield and exercise the instruments of power. And to keep his electoral promises. He promised he would deal with the insecurity which was threatening to engulf Nigeria under his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan. And to liberate the abducted school girls from Chibok: those tender victims of African infamy.

Today the Chibok girls are back, well at least half of them, released from the clutches of horrible captivity, thanks to that misogynist-president's wholehearted effort to end terrorism in that country. Today Boko Haram is on the run, a good part of its evil leadership taken out by the combined might of Nigerian air and ground force. Don't forget a good number of ZNA founding officers trained in Nigeria, and we shall forever remain grateful to that brotherly country for what she did for our struggle and its aftermath. Ahead of Nomazulu — the defender of women rights who is too busy on the subject to spare a thought for these girls — I hope the remaining girls will be set free so they can pick up the broken pieces, and be allowed to start life anew. It is terrible to abduct little school girls, turn them prematurely into womanhood, all in the name of religion or cause. More seriously, it is most terrible for people like Nomazulu to owe it to a misogynistic president in the form and person of Mohamed Buhari, the no-nonsense president of Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the eventual liberation of those traumatized girls. But, phat, I have not yet made a case against Buhari!

My kitchen, my living room, the other room

Aisha Buhari, wife of the Nigerian President is not too happy with some of the appointments done — or is it not done? — by her leader-husband, appointment of persons minding the State of Nigeria. She thinks the President was either absent-minded when he made them, or simply not involved, suggesting a spooky capture of the mighty State of Nigeria. So angry is she that she threatens not to give him her vote in the next election unless he dismisses those people. And this was not a whisper in the boudoir; rather, it was a woman-yell from the rooftop. The Nigerian President was not too pleased by this vital, close-up input from her household.

He chose — with frightening calculation I must say — when to hit back at the suggesting Aisha, herself a stunning beauty to behold. At a press conference with Angela Merkel, the German Woman Chancellor, President Buhari reminded Aisha of where she rightly belongs: "to my kitchen, my living room and the other room." Obviously Chancellor Merkel was not too pleased. Except she could do nothing beyond casting an evil look. For here was a husband who happens to be a president talking about his own household; a president who happens to be a husband talking about where he thinks unelected Nigerian mothers should be, vis-a-vis matters of an African state. It must have been a multiple burden for the poor German Chancellor: a woman, a mother, a leader, a European and an inheritor of a colonial State! Yet who had to stay mute, all against boiling insides!

Not the parapet of femininity

I suppose the fact of drawing on the late Achebe — another Nigerian — to make observations on Joice's sitting arrangement was unlikely to endear me to Nomazulu. I don't know how Nomazulu carries herself about in public, how she looks beneath and beyond her head. Sartorially, that is. But judging by her headgear, she exhibits a personality that minds her business, bodily business that is. Yet she is a private woman, albeit with a public opinion on matters that exercise her as a citizen. That is her right and she claims it admirably. But she looks careful in cultivating and exhibiting a wish image through this head-and-shoulder mug shot which has become synonymous with her stout pieces on issues she puts her mind to comment on in public. Joice, on the other hand, is not just a woman, a Nomazulu.

She is a leader of a political party in opposition. A past Vice-President of this country. An aspiring President again of this country. She seeks public office — the highest there is in this land. And on her good day, she may wake up a whole Head of State and Leader of Government, nay, a face of this country we call Zimbabwe, the same way Merkel, May and Johnson personify Germany, Britain and Liberia respectively. The same way Hilary Clinton is set to, in a few weeks to come, in respect of America. In all these aforesaid capacities, her biological identity is incidental, a point she has so beautifully made by her choice to compete for power without feeling restrained by the original sin of Eve. And I support her posture wholeheartedly, though not her politics which I abhor from the bottom of my heart. Which is why she must not make her womanhood an issue at all, the same way Mugabe cannot make his age an issue for as long as he sits on that seat which makes him hand down decisions that impact on the citizenry, whether for better or for worse. This is why this column — which to the hilt supports R.G. will never lamely invoke the reverence due to old age in our African culture, in defending or deflecting any criticism that may be directed at R.G. Mugabe as a Head of State and Government. By choosing to remain in the ring at that age, he has chosen to brave the inclement judgment due to a holder of public office. Full stop.

Where body is foremost text

I am sure Nomazulu — that angry headgear beauty — begins to get the drift of my argument. Joice Mujuru should help us view her as a politician seeking the highest office, a politician equal to any other, male or female, right or wrong. Not to get us to see something else, to distract us by her sheer femininity, while at the same time seeking through unthinking surrogates to put that supposed allurement beyond public debate. Our wives bore us girls, and may their wombs stay truly blest. We are proud fathers to girl-children, the same way our wives are proud mothers of boy-children, if for once I have to draw a line suggesting the battle of the sexes which Nomazulu seems to cherish.

I don't know or learn femininity in the public domain, I who have reared and raised it at home. But when a whole politician – and in my reckoning of Joice, that identity comes first – steps out into the public domain for a photo-opportunity which is deliberately chosen and arranged, and which is meant to sell her for my attention and vote – steps out and still cannot know where to put her legs, and how far to show, then need we begrudge the lizard for following ants into her fireplace? Are we expected to ignore the picture text which she gratuitously puts there for our reading, puts in a political story, all in favour of reading dry letters of the alphabet, adorned with a comma here, a full stop there? In an industry where images matter? An industry where the body is the first text for public reading? And with so many paths to reach Rome, you voluntarily choose the one that passes through a graveyard to cry, spook go away, I am woman? No, no, no!

Tongue-in-cheek advice

There is something called deportment in leadership, which is why our leaders don't walk about in jeans that droop and thinly hang beneath their bodily bottoms, in the process rivalling teenagers at Sam Levy's on a bad Friday. I mean just imagine a male politician on a politically calculated walk-about with a throbbing bulge below the waist, presenting himself to you the voter! So, spare me this nonsense about a woman, a wife, a grandmother. I was not part of her wardrobe choice, not part of her inept PR team that did not tell her to dress properly ahead of a photo-opportunity, itself a key visual pitch in politics. Nonsense!

When she adopted that horse-less equestrian sitting stance, did she not know she was a wife, a mother, a grandmother? I must carry the burden of not pointing that out, inini, for the sake of her daughters and grandchildren? What did she want them to see and read the political morrow? What lesson is she giving to my daughters who see in her bid the infinite possibilities which this great Nation affords its womenfolk? That an equestrian sitting position is photogenic to a female politician? What is the role of leadership in shaping the moral bearings of a people under it? If gold rusts, what will iron do, Nomazulu? And you, the iron in the equation, are not rusting by wearing such a beautiful headgear: are you not a quiet sartorial rebuke on a leader who cannot sit properly? Or have you chosen to speak out against Joice's clear lack of leadership mien through a tongue-in-cheek attack on me? I think so. Good reading my dear Noma and hey, go out and help the big sista!

When Zimbabwe's opposition is for Trump

Talking about Trump and the US elections, I am sure the Zimbabwean opposition feels in happy company. They are all Trumpists, of course in spite of themselves. Like our opposition, Trump thinks American elections have been rigged already, well before a single vote has been cast. That sounds familiar — very familiar. He might as well have said the American elections have been Nikuved — a local parlance which even Dabengwa also employs, never mind he was Home Affairs minister when Nikuv, the Israeli IT company was contracted to fix our national registration system which by the way, has been admired and replicated in the region. I feel some sympathy for the whining Trump though. He has been unfairly treated by the media: CNN and New York Times especially.

Instead of presenting the two candidates dispassionately, as behoves well-behaved media of a mature democracy, the American media have simply swiftly and hysterically cast their vote for Hilary Clinton, well ahead of the poll. The idea is to influence the American reader. Now that is rigging, given the legendary gullibility of the American voter, so wont to media-induced, herd mentality behaviour at polls. I have a modest proposal to make for our Parliament: how about a USDERA, to be followed swiftly by a trenchant list of high ranking American officials and companies to be put under stiff sanctions for "posing a continuing extraordinary threat to USZ (United States of Zimbabwe)'s interests"? I mean our own laws here require that ZBC sits properly during "the election period"; that the Herald gives equal opportunity to all parties in the event that it chooses to give any such opportunity to any one! What is good for Zimbabwe surely must be a template for the whole world?

Or are we back to the Stone Age where the gnat cannot make rules for the elephant? Yet it still must be said. Chirango chikuru, dimba akati sekuru Nzou pindai mumba!

The story of dimba and the elephant

I have used Shona and I know who is yelling at me for not providing a translation! He calls it Shona hegemony, this mukuwasha from Ghana. Well, the Shonas put it so well proverbially when they seek to emphasize the propriety of extending a courtesy even when it is impracticable to do so, or unlikely to be accepted by the beneficiary. I mean a Shona family settling down for dinner would still invite an Arab visitor to the table where the relish includes pig trotters uneasily defying the lid of a sweating, oily pot. Obviously for a Moslem such an invitation would pass for gross impudence plus sacrilege. A real abomination for which a full fatwa is deserved. But still the Shonas will extend an invitation. When challenged, they would then say: chirango chikuru vakuru we-ee, hinga dimba wakati wani sekuru pindai mumba! Dimba is a little bird who abound in Shona folklore, which in real life carefully builds its little nestle – for it a big mansion — up the thorn tree. Elephants love foliage of certain species of thorn trees, which is why they often patronize thorny thickets, in the process coming perilously close to little Dimba's house and home.

Now legend has it that long ago when elephants were still small and could fly, Dimba the Patriarch, married took the hand of Elephant (Nzou)'s daughter. She bore her many children, which is why little dimbas always flock in swarms. By dint of this original marriage, it means Dimba calls Nzou "uncle", sekuru in Shona. So when the elephants visit the thorny thickets for their favourite foliage, dimba thinks his uncles are paying him a visit. Appropriately, dimba then invites his uncles — both in their hugeness and numbers — into his "big" spacious mansion by way of the little nestle, an invitation which is obviously impracticable given the size of dimba's house. Or the size of Nzou's body. Still the invitation must be made, and Uncle Nzou appreciates the gesture and show of goodwill, however unseemly and impotent. Out of this mismatch in curtsies, the Shonas have developed a saying: A courtesy must be offered and extended regardless, for did not Dimba say come in uncle, gladly opening the door to house to the elephant! So let Dimba teach elephantine America a little lesson on media in politics!

The sin Trump committed

But all this is not what must be read from this elephantine electoral development. What is worth reading, especially for us Zimbabweans – vana Dimba of global electoral politics — is how the American Establishment has reacted and handled Trump's echoing claim and charge. Beyond dismissing it as a case of sour grapes — and there is a lot that justifies such an allegorical metaphor, given Trump's dimba-like prospects in the forthcoming polls, and given Hillary's elephantine prospects for a landslide victory — the American Establishment has sprung up to the defence of its own democratic processes and self-vaunted traditions, principally processes to do with how it elects leaders.

Today Trump stands charged of attacking this hallowed process, an attack which is made synonymous with an assault on America itself. Not helped by Trump's apparent sympathies for Vladimir Putin, the Russian President and America's contrived demon. In America, you can do anything, attack or grope any woman, but you may not bring into doubt or disrepute America's democratic processes. That is a taboo, something of a sacrilege sure to trigger a fatwa. And this is what Trump has brought upon himself, which is why the Establishment will rig the poll for Hillary's overwhelming win. And no one will bat an eyelid, not even Trump's Republicans who all know — know unerringly — that they have little to lose from forfeiting a mere presidential term, more to lose from a perforated myth of America as the global leader of electoral democracy. More so now when the social pact around another myth — that of America as a land of equal opportunities for all races — is creaking and cracking in ways that are potentially combustible. I mean how do dead or slain African-African Americans participate in a show of meritocracy?

Running with the Establishment

Amazingly, Americans are teaching us that defending a national, governing myth is far more important than winning presidency. Amazingly too, Americans are showing us, we vana dimba, that the responsibility of defending a governing myth against a rampaging maverick politician is bi-partisan, indeed transcends the political divide. Yet not so here where we are quick to discredit our own. There, America and Americans must continue to be helped to believe in the well-cultivated myth of an unassailable, unbending and unending democracy by which the elites have and continue to govern it, even while slaying unarmed blacks in cold streets. So Trump is just that: electoral trash, which is why all bounds of proper institutional conduct have been exceeded, not least by the media, to put him down politically, to no outcry at all apparently. And the act has swiftly gone further: Trump is no longer a presidential candidate; he is a demon to be shunned by all right-thinking Americans. Anything, everything, he does, is senseless, demonic and un-American in fact. And in fighting demons that imperil America, nothing else matters.

The hand of the Establishment must be visible, and partisan too! In the process — and ironic enough – showing how correct Trump is about rigged elections! Apparently there is something called national threshold in politics: an unknown quantity to us the African dimbas of global politics. And the Americans are teaching us the threshold is impalpable, a myth with a palpable hold on, and a claim to universal loyalty of the citizenry. Once that is crossed, elections cease to matter and the offending being ceases to be a candidate with given, clear rights to claim and assert. He becomes a serious offender, turning the poll into a matter between the offender and the Establishment. The election turns into a single-horse race where the favoured horse trots alongside the Establishment, unbridled by any restraining rules. It is still an election, Americans will swear still! This is how Americans do their politics, while selling a dummy to the whole world, to us vana dimba!

When it is so bad for America only

There is another dimension, one against Trump, and for us all to learn, we the little, nestled birds who mistakenly think America outgrew its smallness through democracy. Gentle reader, if you saw last week's copy of Times magazine, you would have seen or read a cover story on Putin seeking to attack the American electoral system through cyber-terrorism. Russian hacks are said to have targeted the data bank of Democrats. Not even of America, but of just a political party. Never before have I seen or read an America that pretends to be so vulnerable to the Russian bear for other well calculated ends. An America that clearly admits to technological inferiority vis-a-vis Russia or any other power in the world.

But that is to run ahead of a preliminary point that needs to be made here and now. So, it is wrong for an outsider to interfere with electoral politics and processes of America? Why is it so right for America to do just that with our own electoral systems? Including the vote tallying system they have sought to run here and elsewhere through their sponsored political NGOs? Not to mention ZDERA. Not to mention financial support extended to opposition political parties. Not to mention their gadgetry they have extended to the opposition here, the same way they will not countenance any gadgetry extended to Trump by the Russians. You remember the little short-wave radios they sought to distribute here in favour of the opposition? The media centre they have established which is run by the Mudzengereres, and which have been producing much of the opposition propaganda matter we view on YouTube? Why is it so bad for American electoral politics yet it is so good for ours, we who live in little nestles?

When the local and the global meld

Going back to America's unprecedented admission to technological inferiority to Putin's Russia, we draw yet another big lesson in American statecraft and how that is used to rig elections. In the run-up to elections, there has been this well-cultivated propaganda myth of a real Russian threat to America which, ironically enough, does not bring back to freshness Hillary's self-admitted misconduct over the whole e-mail saga which the inquiry showed benefited the Russians, but is well directed against Trump who is projected as a friend of Vladmir Putin. It is not that Americans do not want Russians in their electoral politics. Rather, they want Russians in their politics in ways that benefit Hillary, as indeed has happened in this poll. Just read how security panic is often contrived to legitimise decisions, positions and personalities in the overall governance matrix of America. Or to demonise unwanted politics and politicians. Or to mind-manage Americans ahead of an unpopular decision which still has to be made.

Foolish Trump has not helped his case either by his appalling indiscretions which played so well into the hands of the Establishment, and those of Hillary. That way the Establishment has been able to resolve the dilemma consequent upon an electoral system that has yielded a hated Republican candidate and an untrusted Democratic candidate, whose combined impact would have been to create a below-30 percent voter turnout, enough to wither away America's governing myth as a going, superlative global democracy. The hyped Russian threat, together with manufactured Russian atrocities in Syrian — Syria which is itself a by-product of American foreign policy under a Democratic Administration — has now created a new normal where the American voter is galvanised and mobilised for a rousing turnout, in the process blocking a bad guy at home, while raising up for global show America's flawless democracy. That way, the domestic and the global meld into one rich, legitimating mix.

The aunt comes when Biti is dead

Of course there is always a cost to be borne, which must always be lower than the gain to be made. Those of us in the nestle are following arguments which the Establishment is raising to put down Trump after his claims of vote-rigging. These shall be duly repeated here when bad times come and America's political wards here behave and become perfect Trumpists! And they have already started. In the meantime my requiem goes to one Tendai Biti who bragged about "small hands" that meet the clasping hands of a big, politically aunt! Kana vapinda, zvedu zvaita, bragged Biti, after the elephant had invited little dimba to enter her house by way of an invitation to the Democratic Convention.

The only trouble is that dimba did not realise the invitation was a well-calculated trap to ensure he comes back to an empty nestle, after the lurking cobra would have eaten all his electoral chances. Biti's makeshift PDP crumbles so spectacularly, however brave she wants to look. Sipepa Nkomo has defected to ZimPF and dimba's little aunt here — one Joice Mujuru — defiantly tells Biti to stop fretting like some little, spoilt puppy. The other two guys, Matutu and Madzore, have also left, have kissed and made up with Tsvangirai, leaving Biti in the cold. The politically blind lawyer did not see or read the vice that was brewing when Tsvangirai upgraded Chamisa to vice-presidency. He only read it when it was being served him, poor guy. Such that by the time big Aunt makes it to the White House, there will not be a Tendai Biti, only some solicitor chasing small cares and cases to do with matrimonial divorce. Good day, tango pal.


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