Proverbs

The African continent is one where instructional proverbs abound. In South Africa, the Afrikaners have a saying; die wiel draai – the wheel turns. We have one that goes ‘seka urema wafa’ – do not laugh at the misfortunes of others, lest you land in their predicament.

The late Kamuzu Banda
The late Kamuzu Banda

Not long ago, we invented derogatory names for African immigrants who flooded Zimbabwe, seeking employment in our prosperous mines and farms. In the 1980s, we made our western neighbours the convenient scapegoats each time a rhino was killed by poachers. We rolled on the floor with laughter when a senile Kamuzu Banda clung to power until he could no longer step up to the podium without assistance.

We laughed when, in 1974, a mad Mobutu hosted the Ali-Foreman fight – ‘The Rumble in The Jungle’ – while his countrymen wallowed in poverty. Fast forward to 2014, the wheels have indeed turned. It is us who now appear the 13million hostages of a 90-year-old who believes himself to be owed our eternal gratitude.

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