Anybody still sane out there?

BY MAGAISA IBENZI WARD 12, PARIRENYATWA HOSPITAL, HARARE - This week, I've been discussing with my friends here about what is traditional African culture as opposed to foreign influences. Mugabe has been trying to move away from Western influence and back to our roots and African traditions.

But, being a natty dresser himself, he hasn’t got very far at all. Sadly, this fact was brought home rather roughly to those two poor British-educated boys, Tafadzwanashe (we have been made happy by the Lord) and Tapiwanashe (We’ve been given a gift from God) Fichani.

They have been languishing in this loony bin for the past week. Doctors are conducting tests to try and find out whether their practise of wearing only skimpy goatskins in Avondale and Sam Levy’s Village shopping malls constitutes insanity, or not.

Professor Gordon Chavunduka, president of the Traditional Healers Association, has already made his diagnosis. “We have failed to see how their actions conform to our culture,” he said. The magistrate, who dealt with the case, was not impressed when the pair were hauled before his bench, still clad only in their loin skins (which barely covered the naughty bits). He suspected something more than a simple case of indecent exposure, and ordered them to be locked up forthwith, and then examined by medical professionals.

I hope they don’t tell the doctors that they received a divine order to shed Mugabe-style suits and replace them with goat-skin flaps. As for their statement in court that they have forsaken their comfortable beds and prefer to sleep on the floor in the chicken run, I wonder what the medics will make of that.

Could all this, perhaps, be the result of the purple haze resulting from consumption of Zimbabwe’s famous leaf of pleasure? That certainly was not part of our traditional culture, unless of course they have Tonga roots somewhere?

Magaisa’s prognosis is that they, like most people in our society, are no longer normal. We are all the product of years of abuse by our government, which has reduced us to gibbering wrecks fit only for some kind of asylum. The whole country needs to be declared a mental asylum, if you ask my opinion.

When the doctors have finished with the twins, I propose that they turn their attention to our cabinet members. There must surely be something terribly wrong with people who can continue to deny their starving fellow countrymen food, and not see anything wrong with thousands of children fainting at school and millions being unemployed, displaced, homeless and poverty-stricken.

Millions more people have left this country to eke out an existence somewhere else than left when we were still staggering under the iron rod of colonialism. Am I the only one who is amazed at this? Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy?

Magaisa remembers the days when Mugabe used to live with the people – in Highfields. Back then he used to board a bus just like all of us. We used to see him over the fence, sitting in the sun in his back garden, wearing his vest, shaving himself. No body guards, no razor wire. He didn’t need them. We all loved him.

How things have changed. He now feels the need to evict all his neighbours, the whole street, from around his new retirement palace in Borrowdale. Bully boys are usually cowards underneath. Their tough behaviour masks a frightened little boy inside. Many of those people in Borrowdale Brook have been ruined economically by Mugabe’ latest outbreak of paranoia. They spent their life savings building those homes. And now they are going to lose them – with no compensation.

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