Induku enhle iganyulwa ezizweni
Ian Palmer, a British South Africa Police reservist from East Lancashire sits in the common room of Manfred House at the University of Rhodesia. He is in the 3rd year of a law degree in a country that just one hundred years ago was a vast expanse of African nothingness. Civilisation, like most things we take for granted today, came to these shores on the backs of his wanderlust crazed ancestors. He knows this and surely the natives do as well.
The year is 1975. Ian is engaged in a heated debate with five African natives mostly from Rhodesia’s Matabeleland region. Mbekezeli, the more erudite of the bunch, is the recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship awarded to the country’s best and brightest minds. “So you understand why we are fighting,” says Mbekezeli. “Ha ha ha…Not you sitting here…but the young men and women fighting in the bushes of eastern and southern Rhodesia,” retorts Ian.
The cruel irony derived from this accident of fate cannot be ignored. Mbekezeli, the eldest in a family of five finds himself at UR by sheer force of will. Exceedingly bright and with a dogged determination to escape the poverty he grew up under, he has earned the Rhodes scholarship by being the best performing male student in the country. A scholarship funded and named after a man who was the emissary of the same people who have subjugated and relegated the aspirations and ambitions of many a young man like himself to that of slaves in the land of their ancestors’ birth.
Ian on the other hand, is not particularly bright. After an uneventful stint as a policeman in Lancashire, he yearns for adventure and joins the trek of thousands of similarly bored young Englishmen who seek the mystique and intrigue of the colonial frontiers. They say opportunities for young men like Ian are in abundance there. Had he stayed in gloomy Lancashire, Ian would not have had the opportunity to study towards a law degree at the country’s top university. Surely this is the prize for the unrewarding yet necessary work of civilising natives in far off and exotic places. This opportunity is his birthright. Surely!
This is the last day Ian would ever see Mbekezeli. Later that night, Mbekezeli and four other natives abandon their studies to join the terrorists in Mozambique.
It is 8:30am. Bafana’s ear drums are assaulted by loud sirens from the fire engines going past his quaint little apartment on the corner of East 101st street and Broadway. Donald Trump is leading the Republican presidential nomination; a black man of Kenyan descent is serving the last of his two terms in office as President of the United States of America. Bafana chuckles to himself and gets out of bed wondering if such a reality was something his father could have ever fathomed when he returned as a liberation war hero to cheering crowds in the streets of Harare, then Salisbury. A bitterness envelopes him as he suddenly remembers the dire circumstances under which his father died. Mbekezeli Ndaba, Bafana’s father, had died a bitter man. A fierce opponent of President Hurukuro, Mbekezeli felt the incumbent leader had betrayed the ethos and values of the movement for which he and many others like him had risked life and limb for. That his death came by way of a mysterious fire did not shock many a people in post-independent Zimbabwe as that had been the fate of many a man who had dared opposed the one man rule of Hurukuro.
His father’s death in 2005, though now a distant memory, still stings and represents everything wrong with the place of his birth. For Bafana, home is weakness, a sickness to be escaped from, an indulgence to be sacrificed at the altar of ambition, freedom and happiness. Home is pain. Bafana is stateless, a man not crippled by the unnecessary constraints of geography; a man whose identity is fluid, amniotic and ever changing. For Bafana, home is where he can make an honest living and express his opinions without the fear of reprisals and dying in mysterious fires.
Chaitemura chava kuseva. Aive madziva ave mazambuko
“Zimbabwe has just come out of what many are calling a landmark election. For the first time in over 30 years, international observers have been allowed free access to every single step of the voting process. In a country where your race is your politics, Mandlenkosi Ndaba-Palmer becomes the first bi-racial president of post independent Zimbabwe. The election of the progressive and unsurprisingly popular opposition party ushers in a new dawn for African democracy that is refreshingly out of step with the gait of many a post colonial African state traditionally characterised by an institutionalised culture of mediocrity and corruption.”