Old habits die hard

It must have been back in 1971 when a friend of mine, whom I will call Chris, planned an evening out with a white friend who had a car – most important in those times, even if the car was a well-worn Ford Prefect, the most popular model in Highfield that year. It meant they were more mobile and could choose among the few scattered places where they could have a drink together without bringing the force of racist laws down on them too heavily.

They went to the Fed, where they had a beer or two and some interesting conversation, during which a patron approached the murungu quietly and asked him where he was going next as he (the questioner) was looking for a lift.

The paleface caused some consternation and amusement when he replied “I don’t know. I’m only the driver; you’d better ask the boss” nodding towards Chris. He underlined and challenged a classic colonial prejudice. We can sit back and laugh at that little bit of history.

But I saw something last week that suggested it’s not just history. A big man in a big car had a minor collision with a kombi. He dashed off to call the police, leaving his two passengers, one of whom was of pale complexion, to face the kombi crew. They assumed the paleface owned the car, or at least employed the driver. Given the unpleasant consequences of this situation for the kombi driver, since the police are never impartial in a case involving a kombi, the paleface realised it was very important for him to prove he was just a passenger and had no control over the car or its driver.

When the driver returned they did have an exchange that proved the driver was his own man in his own car, but by then the kombi driver was busy with the cops.

Although he appeared to believe the paleface, I wonder whether he really did. That historic colonial prejudice is still with us. It’s pretty certainly on the Border Gezi syllabus that all these beardless youths in police uniform have been taught. But if intelligent private citizens, who have to live by their wits and should therefore have a better grasp of reality, still believe that colonial fairy tale, we are in a bad way.

It is obvious enough to any independent observer that the people who pretend to rule this country believe that the palefaces are a superior breed, superior in power, wealth and intelligence. Otherwise, why should they try so hard to be like those detested exploiters? Why should it matter to them that they are not welcome in the places where the hated exploiters display and spend their ill-gotten wealth? That is something a real revolutionary would be proud of, but no, our “true revolutionaries” cry out their sense of injury at this deprivation on every occasion, relevant or not and blame these “sanctions” for everything, maybe even bad weather.

Why should it be so important for a “sanctioned” individual to go to every international meeting he can, and to be photographed there?

Why should the murungu be so powerful that everyone from the rawest juvenile little police recruit to the highest level in government believes as fervently as Ian Smith claimed to (it’s hard to believe he was that big a fool) that no black person is capable of having a “subversive” (meaning “original”) thought unless a murungu has put it into their head. And, if the murungu has this kind of magic, why do they seem unaware that their little eastern friends might have some share of the same kind of magic?

Zanu (PF)’s obsession with their historic grievances seems to only keeps them bound in the old chains of colonial thinking. They’ll never be independent till they can break those.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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