She was fairly well known in Mbare National. She might have been seen walking in a busy street, oblivious of traffic, declaiming in high class English though the track of her argument was not clear. I once heard her approach a strange man with “I want to marry you” and then within five minutes reveal that she was already married to Prince Charles.
At a funeral, she had to be held firmly in her chair until someone could gently push her out the gate, or her sermon could have lasted the night and circled on through the next day.
In short, she was mad in a culturally accepted style. Now she is dead. The full story is not clear, but it seems that on that night she argued with a man. Maybe he tried to restrain her, she brushed him off and he over-reacted, or maybe his intentions were more suspect. He beat her and she died.
Her killer goes free. I am tempted to ask who was more mad: this harmless crazy woman or the brute who killed her? Is our society mad? After all, she wasn't the only person beaten to death in Mbare that week. And everyone just shrugs their shoulders and walks away.
We know there are people who go around charged up on adrenalin and maybe alcohol, ready to crush anyone who gets in their way. A harmless woman who ambles through heavy traffic talking to herself, maybe because she doesn't know anyone else intelligent enough to talk to, is an easy victim. The “guardians of our law” will not rush to defend her, or even to avenge her.
Indeed if you listen to their political rhetoric, you will feel there are many people who are crazy enough to kill for little or no reason and they have the protection of the powers-that-be. They live in a different culture, where their style is apparently the culturally accepted way of being mad where they drink in their whorehouses and torture chambers. We may not be able to do anything about how they behave there, but we don't want this kind of thing spilling out on to our streets. They are still our streets as much, or more than, they are theirs.
We hear talk of crushing real or imagined opponents daily, and from the highest in the land. It's not surprising that so many lesser people get crushed. Look at the record since independence; Gukurahundi with 20,000 massacred and many of them tortured; recurring official persecution of women, so that it can be dangerous for a group of women to go out in the evening together without a man to “own” them; the dispossession and displacement of a million farm workers and their families in the name of “land reform”; Operation Murambavanhu (I can never call it anything else) destroying homes and livelihoods affecting some 2.5 million people; the violence that has increasingly marred every election campaign. This sounds like a description of a society in a frenzy of self-destruction.
So is it surprising that a harmless mad woman gets battered to death on a dark evening, when a government minister can get away with assaulting women in public? Remember our minister who attacked a British MP who disagreed with him last year. Fortunately, he did not choose a dark alley for his assault, but did it before a TV audience of millions and, even more fortunately, there were a few dozen people nearby who were not afraid to restrain him. If he can do that in broad daylight in a foreign country, what might he not get away with in the shadows at home?
Yes, there are people out there who want the world to believe Zimbabwe is run by a gang of criminal lunatics, but you won't disprove their arguments by committing the acts of criminal lunacy we have grown used to.Post published in: Opinions & Analysis