Friday, December 14, 2012

A Judge says thank you

When I changed my profile picture on Face Book to one depicting me as a Judge I was quite taken with the wave of appreciation posted by Face Book activists.  It made me realize that I am still held in honour and esteem because of my elevation to this sacred office.

Indeed it was a great honour, one of the greatest honours that our country Zimbabwe could, at that time, have conferred on one of its sons.   In 1987 Zimbabwe had a judiciary that was held in the highest esteem across the planet. Judges were appointed strictly on merit. 
So before I leave this world it behoves me to acknowledge those to whom my family and I are deeply indebted to for my appointment and the honour it brought to us and our community.

1. Godfrey Guwa Chidyausiku was the first person to propose that I be appointed. What is pertinent to point out to his credit, is that he did this despite that fact that we were neither friends nor naturally empathetic towards each other. We had some rather testy disagreements.

2. Minister Edson Jonasi Zvobgo's interest in me was triggered when I successfully acted as his Advocate in a defamation suit. He stated that he was thrilled that here was a genuine opportunity to ensure that the High Court Bench also reflected our demographics as this was important to the principle that "justice be seen to be done".

3. Enoch Dumbutshena, as the then Chief Justice, was effusive about having me appointed and, and was enthusiastic in making his recommendation to the President, His Excellency Canaan Banana.

4. Then Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe had to provide political sanction for my appointment. He did this, despite an obvious credibility problem in that I had been a magistrate under Ian Douglas Smith. In the one personal interaction I had with him he stated very, very  slowly, but approvingly -  "we did hear about you". It must also be noted that Mugabe did this even though I had defended 10 ZAPU cadres charged with plotting to kill him and staging an attempted coup.

Because of what these human beiongs did for me I had an opportunity to serve my country in a very, very meaningful way. My record as a Judge thankfully proved to be unimpeachable and perhaps one of the best in this region in terms of judgments reported, and followed, in the Law Reports in relation to the period served.
So I also  thank the Almighty that the faith that was shown in me was not betrayed.

Being a judge also provided me with the credibilty to go on and serve three (3) other countries, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in a very meaningful way. My thinking has made a permenent and real difference in bringing social justice to road crash victims in those countries. See ----

So I ask all of you to join me in saying thank you.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

We are so fickle and cowardly

Hansie Cronje admitted only that he pretended to a match fixing syndicate member that he would be able to fix cricket match(s).  At no stage did he actually fix any cricket match. Neither did he ever intend to do so. His intention was personal benefit at the expense of the crooks, not the game itself.

He was condemned, vilified, demonized and hounded as the scum of the earth. A truly wonderful man was persecuted, leaving this world prematurely as a broken man.  Even after his untimely death some continued to vilify him, despite his incredible contribution to the game of cricket and to the stature of his country. Hansie Cronje  did not cheat in the game of cricket. He committed fraud on crooks. We condemned and hounded him to his grave. 

Cameron Van Der Burg did cheat. He cheated on the most prominent stage yet devised by mankind, the Olympics. He incorporated an illegal kick in going on to win the breast stroke final swimming event.  Once he employed that kick it was no longer breast stroke. It was something else.  It was cheating. 
His action was no different to a golfer using an illegal club to win the British Open, or me claiming my PHd on plagiarised content, or an athlete using a banned substance.  It is all cheating.

Doing it because others are also doing it is simply not an excuse, and never was.  The fact that the IOC looks the other way simply implicates it in the cheating. 
Despite this he remains affirmed, lauded and applauded for being, not only an international champion, but the darling of a whole country, South Africa.  This is the same country whose populace hounded Cronje, who did not cheat, but admitted dishonesty, to an early death. 

So what is the difference here?  Why is Cameron Van Der Burg a saint and Hansie Cronje a scoundrel?  It is nothing more than the fickleness of public opinion and the inherent hypocrisy of man. It abounds everywhere in huge abundance in what is known as the phenomena of "convenient untruths" and the  suppression of "inconvenient truths".
Provided the dominant entity pushes us in a particular direction, we follow unthinkingly. Usually the dominant entity is a government.  In this case it is the International Olympic Committee.  Because it has decided to turn a blind eye, look the other way and make a mockery of the breast stroke event, we are content to follow suit. 

In my post "Are you a sheep" I state that -- 
Human beings are "social animals". It is by bonding, cooperation and pulling together that we have achieved dominance over all other creatures on the planet. Psychologically we need to feel loved and accepted. We love the feeling of "belonging". To disagree with others is to risk rejection. To disagree with a dominant group is to invite being marginalized, even ostracized. So we are "hot wired" to have a "herd mentality".
In his classic work “Animal Farm”, George Orwell quite spectacularly portrayed how the views of a dominant group become the norm for the rest. Because the rest accept and propagate these views “unthinkingly”, he rightly portrayed them as sheep. Sheep do not think for themselves. They simply follow whoever is leading. They are concerned only to be part of the herd. They have a herd mentality. Just one sheep dog can drive a whole herd of a hundred sheep in whatever direction it chooses.
How right George Orwell was!! Really! We see this phenomenon repeat itself amongst humans with incredible regularity.  
So, at a certain point, we are inclined to be sheep.  No question whatsoever!  We will unthinkingly follow the herd, disregarding principle and/or truth.  It is why they all shouted out "crucify Him, crucify Him", 2012 years ago. It is why only a small handful of members,such as the Black Sash, of the dominant White group,  opposed apartheid.  It is why a tyrant, like Idi Amin, used to get a standing ovation from the Afro-Asian members at the United Nations, just months before he was deposed. It is why nobody will take issue with Affirmative Action and BEE in South Africa. even though these transformational models are immoral, racist and absurd, for being an exact reverse model of apartheid culture.

It is why Usain Bolt is being lauded as the greatest Olympian even though this accolade is deserved by David Rudisha, for actually breaking a World record, and Jessica Ennis and Ashton Eaton for beating the World's best in a compendium of athletic events. 

The question that arises is this -- is this good for the World?  Is the World a better place because wrong is conveniently tolerated?  Is the fabric of society of better quality because we often choose to abandon principle out of an admixture of convenience and cowardice? 

I think not. I think the World is in its much troubled state because of this culture of "convenience", of a "herd mentality", of too many of us being "sheep".  
In my book I posted the following statement as the flypage. The book was published in October 2010.  It was spectacularly vindicated by the end of that year when one ordinary man Mohammed Bouazizi said "enough is enough" and started the Arab Spring. 

An ordinary life becomes extraordinary
 when you seek truth
setting your face against deception and lies. Find it. Defend it.
Then your life will have meaning to others. It will make a difference; howsoever small.
And the world will change; for the better.
Yes we can.

When in doubt, just tell the truth.  Oscar Wilde.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are you afflicted by CRAP? Check urgently!

Act 1:  Scene 1:  A home in South Africa

Child:     Dad, what am I?
You:      You are a Black my child. 
Child:     But Dad, black is the colour of the ink on this page. I am not black?! 
You:      You must understand. This is the way it is. This is South Africa.
Child:     And my best friend, Patricia whose parents come from Cape Town?
You:      She is Coloured, my child.
Child:     But Dad, coloured is like those coloured crayons Mum got me from CNA. Patricia is brown, not  coloured.
You:      Look here, don't start being argumentative, she is Coloured!
Child:     And my other friend, Helen, who speaks Afrikaans all the time?
You:      She is White. Can't you see that she is white.? What is wrong with you, all these silly questions?
Child:     Dad, white is the colour of this paper. Helen is not white. She is very light brown, and I really like her blue eyes. 
You:      Listen child, if you must be such a clever boots, Black, White and Coloured are not really real. They are social constructs that we have from history. You need to learn this.
Child:    Aah, I see. I am "social construct black Angie". My friend is "social construct coloured Patricia" and ......
You:    Listen here child, don't try and be smart with me. I am your father. If you must know, this is all because of what the Whites did, long ago in America and also here in South Africa. Have you not been taught about apartheid ... or were you busy arguing with your teacher instead of listening? 
Child:     But Dad, are the Whites still in charge?   Are we not in charge now? Our teacher said that Nelson Mandela and the ANC defeated apartheid and EVERYONE was freed in 1994?
You:      No... I mean Yes ... we are now in charge  ... and we are now a rainbow nation and ... er ... proudly South African..
Child:     But dad, there is no black in the colours of the rainbow. 
You:      Yes, yes, yes ... but look here, that is the way it is.
Child:     Our teacher also taught us that a person born in Europe is a European. Helen and I were both born in the same hospital. Are we not Africans?
You:      Yes ... I mean No ... she is White .. you are Black .... !!! 
Child:     ....  and Patricia is Coloured. But her brother had to put that he was Black when he was applying for a job Why?
You:      er ... er ... Yes well ... it is so under Affirmative Action ....
Child:      So he is "affirmative action Black Jacob". What about if he does not get the job?.  Does he stay as a Coloured?
You:      No ... no ... No ... are you trying to be smart with me child? 
Child:     And we learnt that the KhoiSan were the original inhabitants of this land ... that their land was taken from them ... and has not been given back ....  and that they are not the same as us ... they are ...
You:       Look child, the KhoiSan are Africans ... they are like us ... they are born here ... in Africa .... 
Child:     But they are the same colour as Patricia, who was also born here in Groot Schuur, where Dr Barnard did the first heart transplant on .... 
You:      Huh ... they are  Khoi and San. Don't worry about them child.
Child:     Patricia says the Coloured people are from the KhoisSan. Many of them look like the KhoiSan.
You:      Shut up ...
Child:     Patricia says that her uncle from Zimbabwe says that when a person would speak like you in their pub, they would all start singing their version of "Who Is Fooling Who" by our Ray Phiri and Stimela.
You:      Don’t start reminding me of these Zimbabweans ... they have spoilt their own country and are full up doing crime in ours ... ... 
Child:    But Dad, I thought you said we are all Africans?  Were you also burning the Zimbabweans and Mozambicans in the xenophobic violence?
You:      No, I did not ... I did not ....
Child:    But you were not angry about this.  You were very angry about people who were happy. You were shouting "To hell with these gay people ... to hell with them ...
You:      Look here child .... I do not want to hear about gay people ...  and lesbians .... 
Child:     Dad, do you know that you are full of crap?  * 
[*Editors note -- the father does suffer from CRAPChronically Racist And Prejudiced.]  
You are. Really!  But you are in good company. 50 million South Africans accept, connive or collude at this nonsense. We have colour coded the nation.  We define ourselves as colours; not as human beings. The child is right. We are all full of crap.  What proves it beyond all doubt is that we even have  "BEE accreditation"  in terms of which entities are paid to certify the degree of blackness we have achieved. 
Now if we cannot get over the past, and want to wallow in it,  let us not visit its sins on our children.  Let us not force fatuous lies on these little ones.  Life is difficult enough without the child having to contend with "convenient untruths" just because we want to satisfy our hang-ups. Let us at least start dealing in truth, for a change. 
The first one is that any competent psychologist, criminologist or social scientist will confirm to you that a child easily sees what is true and what is false.  The child knows when you are lying.  
Secondly, self image is critical to the proper development of a child.  Confusion in this respect often predisposes the child to deviance, even criminal conduct in later life.  It is critically important that a child accepts who and what he/she is and is nurtured to be proud of this.
It may be that the planet's greatest entertainer, Michael Jackson, was conflicted in this way. "The answer lies within Michael himself. No matter how much another person loves you, if you do not love yourself, it won't make a difference. I believe that Michael Jackson did not love himself".
So let us stop playing very dangerous games with our children.  The fact that the World is so messed up may well have much to do with generations of people having grown up fatally conflicted in the psyches. 
Stop forcing lies on our children.  Start by giving your child a small, simply drafted, booklet titled "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights".  It has no colour coding of human beings.
It was signed off at the United Nations as long ago as 1947, for God's sake.  
It is long overdue that we try to start subscribing to its simple tenets.   
If we do this our children will work things out for themselves, in accordance with truth, not lies.  They wiil reject convenient lies and strike out for a better World ... as is happening in the Arab Spring. 

PS: -  The child, who has been reading George Orwell, has since drawn the farm post on the right.
This an EXACT reverse image of the racist apartheid model. It is tragic that the heroic struggle that so many gave their lives in has culminated in this grotesque, obscene, vomitus reality ,,, and a whole nation seems blind to it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Social Cohesion in South Africa --- doomed in denialism

The so called "Social Cohesion Summit"* was good. Such a conference was long overdue. It was the first attempt at nation building. However it was doomed because denialism about truth is embedded at all levels of this sick society.

There is no disagreement that South Africa is a very sick nation. Zwelenzima Vavi, of COSATU, has just opined that we have no less than 20 demonstrations a day now, about failed delivery of services. We all know about the crime statistics and that over two (2) million households are now headed by  a child … just for starters. It is now nearly two years since Vavi correctly observed that a situation has been reached where the new elite are spitting in the faces of the poor.  Now we have violent riots almost daily and the nation has experienced the tragedy of Marikana. 

What we simply do not agree on is the reason(s). The ANC support camp is always vociferous in blaming everyone and everything else “Whites, colonialism, imperialism …” except our ANC government. Black political commentators, and the media, are more objective, in correctly ascribing responsibility to government. However this is always done “gingerly” and with good dollops of political correctness. White commentators, like Prof Pierre de Vos,  are mostly even more tactful.

As a people we are just not identifying, admitting and addressing the fundamental drivers of why we are a very sick society.  On Redi Tlhabi’s 702 talk show, on the morning of 4 July 2012, psychologist and struggle stalwart, Dr Saths Cooper, very eloquently said as much labeling, South Africa as a very “abnormal” society.  Society we are; nation we are not.  Why is this so?  Why are we not a nation?

Like everything else, whether it be a house, a dam, a bridge, a road or a society, it must start with the “fundamentals”. These are always critical.  So let us confront the main fundamental with brutal candour ... for the first time I dare say.

On day one of our new democracy, in 1994, the dominant majority decided to define its members, not as human beings, but as a colour; the colour “black”.  It did this, despite the fact that this “label" came with really terrible credentials. It is no more, no less a racist social construct conceived in the cause of oppression. It was conceived and nurtured in the old slave owning, plantation owner dominated Deep South USA, to lump everyone, not of pure Caucasian genes (Negroid, Hispanic, mulatto, quadroons, octoroons .. etc),  into one grouping. The  infamous JimCrowe “one drop” rule was a natural by-product.

Of course the label “black” had great utility during the Civil Rights era. Since all non-whites were rejected by the dominant White group, unity of purpose to rebut racism was unavoidable. However such utility  was simply not indicated once liberation was won in 1994.  It has little relevance in the USA to-day, where a whole people have voted in a colour blind way to install a man, Barrack Obama, to the most powerful position in the World, purely on merit!

That people should be seen and treated as humans, and NOT as colours, was long overdue in South Africa. It was also at the heart of the struggle against apartheid, because treating human beings as colours was at the heart of the that culture. However, instead of dumping the apartheid culture, and this racist social construct, we adopted it, embraced it and embedded it in our transformational model.

So we posted this as central to Affirmative Action, and we gave our socio-economic empowerment model the label “black”, i.e. Black Economic Empowerment. In the result we can now post this plaque in the very heart of South Africa-  “On this farm, as regards jobs and contracts, a Black MUST be favoured; a White MUST be discriminated against; a Coloured/Indian/Chinese MUST be discriminated against unless defined/accepted as Black”.

Now for the apartheid model, just reverse the colour coding!  Our transformational model is an EXACT mirror image of the apartheid model. That is the grim reality. You cannot deny it. You cannot wish it away.  We have the same absurd, immoral racist approach as that of one of the most evil political systems in history. We all know it. But NO ONE is saying it. No one will go there.  We are a truly cowed nation.

In this model the black majority has become “us”. The White minority has become “them”. The rest have become “the other”. After 18 years we do not have a nation.  We have groupings of people whose psyche is pre-occupied with difference, and the notion “Black good, White bad, Coloured/Asian not too bad/good”.  It is like a growing cancer, eating away at the very fabric of society.

Instead of making “subsisting disadvantage” the criterion, in a drive towards social justice, NOT so called "social cohesion", we made the colour “black” the criterion, in a drive towards “transformation”.  Instead of saying that “a person who is still disadvantaged on account of apartheid will be affirmed/empowered"  we say that advantage MUST accrue to even a multibillionaire, if he/she is black, and disadvantage MUST accrue to a White, even if he/she is a pauper, had nothing to do with apartheid, and might even have opposed it. The same disadvantage MUST accrue to a Coloured or Asian person if he/she rejects the label “black”. This is mind boggling vomitus stuff!  We know this. But we are silent.

Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was gratefully accepted, by a new Black connected elite, as a wonderfully packaged gift from the same sector that propped up apartheid. The colour “black” became a commodity/currency to be traded in for fabulous personal gain. BEE, in effect, stands for "black economic enrichment"!  It has nothing to do with "empowerment". 
We have a plethora of entities that have labeled themselves as “black”, e.g, Black Management Forum, Black Lawyers Association … etc. We have companies that specialize in certifying the level of your “blackness” under BEE accreditation. This is ludicrous in the extreme. George Orwell must be wincing in his grave. We know this. But we say nothing.

Obviously evil begets evil. So it is not at all surprising that it has not worked … not at all. That is why we are still a very sick society, 18 years after liberation was supposedly won, at terrible cost and human sacrifice. Black fat cats voraciously exploited BEE and joined their big business sponsors ... leaving millions still stuck in apartheid poverty. The gap between rich and poor widened. SA achieved the shameful distinction of becoming the most unequal society in the world.

Given the fatally flawed "transformational" model, its objective too was fatally flawed. That is why we have no mention of social justice in the national discourse. If social injustice was the evil of apartheid, social justice is the reversal. A government that is obsessed with race/colour/ethnicity is divested from even starting to understand that the real objective is social justice. We don’t know that this is the objective. We don’t know it because we are stuck in an apartheid mentality. We are stuck there because we choose to deny the obvious. That is why we are dabbling in curious concepts like "social cohesion" and economic freedom".  A thoroughly cowed populace refuses to see what is staring it in the face.

It was Joe Slovo who stated that “the effectiveness of freedom vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege” , i.e., BEE.  But you cannot understand that people are not free if they are defined as a colour. You cannot understand that social justice is “colour blind”. When you define human beings as colour you are doing it for a perverse vindictive motive, not justice. When you attach rights and privileges to that colour you are being racist. We all know this. For God’s sake, we should, as victims of apartheid! But we are silent.

We are in a state of denial, massive wholesale denial. That is why social justice is not within our understanding. It is not an objective. It is not in our discourse. We divested ourselves of this level of understanding on day one.

There are consequences for this lack of understanding of social justice. We can name a few.  

  • It is why we are “comfortable” with our President taking as many wives as he likes, even though this is certain proof that women are still unequal. 
  • It is why we all gleefully celebrated the 2010 World Cup, even though the country could not afford it and it meant squandering scarce resources needed for our poor and homeless. 
  • It is why not one person will even suggest that the deaths of some 300,000 victims of HIV/AIDs, on account of the willful, arrogant, purposeful denial of drugs, was a crime against humanity. To suggest this of such an important member of the “Black” majority is taboo.  
  • It is why so many are happy at the singing of the song Dubula ibhunu” that calls for man to kill man. 
  • It is why we acquiesce in the fact that a woman or child is raped every 20 seconds. It is why we connive and collude at the miles and miles of  shacks and shanty towns in which human beings live like rats. 
  • It is why the rights of the Khoi San, as the original inhabitants of the region, are not even mooted.  
  • It is why the deaths of 62 people on account of xenophobic violence has no official acknowledgement. 
  • It is why the police have become militarized .. and as result have just shot over 100 protesters out of hand, with 44 dead, in the tragedy of Marikana.
  • It is why the ruling party locked horns over “economic freedom” instead of social justice. 
  • It is why the wise counsel of Dr Mamphela Ramphele that we need to “walk together” has been ignored with seeming contempt. 
  • It is why we have had a conference, named “a social cohesion summit”, about the future of SA and no mention was made of social justice in the pitch or discourse. 
  • The President is quoted as saying that “it is time to build an inclusive society”The statement is irreconcilable with a society that is defined in terms of colours. No one is saying it!
We need to understand that Lady justice is blindfolded for very good reason. She was not always so. Mankind took centuries to realize that she needed a blindfold. What we have done in South Africa is to take the blindfold off. We ask her to see difference. We ask her to make her sacred call on the basis of colour.

It is not justice, It is madness. We need to stop denying this!  The so called “Social Cohesion Summit” was  fatally flawed. 
We need to start thinking about President Kenneth Kaunda’s concept of “humanism” liberally spiced with our very own ubuntu


When in doubt, just tell the truth. Mark Twain.

* Paul Mashitile, appeared on E-TV, as spokesman for the Social Cohesion Conference, and stated that it was a solemn objective of the Conference to "bring the races together, and ensure that people stop seeing themselves as whites, blacks, coloureds ... etc... "
It is quite difficult to imagine a more ludicrous objective in the light of the reality that government has defined the people as colours.
Order ---

Thursday, June 28, 2012

African Dictators Work Hard Too.

An Essay By Tendai Tagarira

African Dictators are often portrayed as grossly inefficient in managing state affairs and they are. But one has to give them credit for being the most hard working of tyrants. Surely, to reduce a whole nation to poverty and starvation must take quite some hard work. It must be exhausting to steal all those billions of dollars and stash them away in offshore accounts. It definitely takes a lot of muscle to rule with a tight grip and suppress a whole nation.

Elections are probably the toughest time for Africa's tyrants as they have to apply a cosmetic show of democracy to the world, in order to garner some form of legitimacy. I doubt it is easy to steal the ballot in front of the whole world. But some of our African dictators seem to get away with it. Mugabe tried stealing the ballot in 2008, but the world was unconvinced. So he turned to a cosmetic democracy theatrical by partnering opposition leader,Morgan Tsvangirai to form the GNU. This guaranteed his political survival for the time being, but I don't think this was an easy option for a man who is used to rule the roost without being challenged. Mugabe once told Tsvangirai, Zviroto zviroto, ngazviperere kuzviroto, “Dreams are dreams and dreams should end in your dreams” This is clearly not a man who wants to share power. I am sure having to share the government with Morgan Tsvangirai is a stone in his shoe.

Sooner or later some run out of luck. Recently we saw Charles Taylor, Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak run out of luck. Taylor was sentenced to 50 years by the ICC, sending shivers down many African tyrants. Personally I think these dictators should be tried in their home countries. I find it absurd that the ICC seems to only persecute African dictators when the world is littered with so many corrupt politicians. In any case, I think the justice system in Africa is good enough to try these deposed tyrants and bring some closure to the citizens. Such is the case of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.

When the end is nigh, some dictators have it pretty rough, as the case of Gadaffi. In his last moments, the megalomaniac was clutching a golden pistol and hiding underneath a dirty bridge. All the billions he stashed away in secret offshore funds abroad could not help him. He died with a bullet through his head and flies buzzing over his copse. Personally I think the way he was killed is not a good foundation to replace a tyrant with good governance. Violence often begets violence. I think it would have been prudent to have him tried by his people like what is happening to Mubarak.

For his hard work in remaining in power, Zimbabwe's Mugabe rewarded himself by expanding Gushungo Estates, a vast network of farms taken over from both black and white farmers. He clearly indulges in the vast diamond revenues that Finance Minister Biti can not account for. Mugabe spends millions on foreign trips with his large entourage, blowing government funds. This is his way of rewarding himself I guess, for managing to remain in power for so long. Recently, a former pilot of his was forced to stop building a 200 million rand mansion in Cape Town, which many speculate is a front for the Mugabe's. I am sure Mugabe and his wife are splashing their ill-gotten wealth by building many mansions abroad.

Former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha had mansions in the French Riviera, rewarding himself an aristocratic lifestyle for his hard work, like the silencing freedom of speech when he had Ken Saro Wiwa hanged. I am sure the British Shell Petroleum company rewarded him with lucrative kickbacks when he silenced Saro Wiwa. Yet Saro Wiwa fights on from the grave. In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang (the son of dictator president Obiang) is building a yacht worth about USD 200 million. He has several mansions dotted in several countries. He flies his jet ski toys on a private gulf stream jet to Monaco where the rich and wealthy hang out, displaying his show of ill goten wealth. The yacht he his building is fully equipped with a basketball court and other untold luxuries. Equatorial Guinea has almost the same GDP per capita as Denmark and Belgium, yet its citizens live on less than a dollar a day. Now his father is working very hard to have criminal charges brought against him in a French court quashed.

Surely, African dictators work hard to remain in power. Their hard work however benefits themselves and their top aids or boot lickers. The fruits of their labour is not hard to see on the streets of Africa, where the majority live on less than a dollar a day. One can see it in the infrastructure that never gets developed, the dams and bridges that never get build. One can see it in the suffering eyes of the citizens, who are often reduced to destitution. This is the success of the African dictators enterprise of amassing wealth at the expense of the people. The question is, for how long they can get away with it?

Until next time
Tendai Tagarira
Author and African Renaissance man.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Tribute to my Alma Mata ... Embakwe Coloured School (Zimbabwe)

Embakwe Coloured School was a mission school for Coloured children, i.e, of mixed race. The main admixtures comprised Euro-African, Cape Coloured and Afro-Asian. Embakwe was started in 1902 when, so legend has it, King Lobengula said to Roman Catholic missionaries ... "Go teach my dogs …"

This is what Michelle Faul, writing for Associated Press, has to say –  
“Embakwe Mission was founded in 1902 by the spirit medium Njemhlophe, who gave up throwing the bones after he converted to Christianity. He came at the behest of Catholic missionaries who soon followed, a Jesuit priest on horseback and three intrepid nuns fresh from England in an ox wagon loaded with provisions, including a hen, a cock and a cat.
First they turned back because of a thunderstorm with forked lightning. On the second attempt, the wagon got bogged down in mud. So the nuns, from the Belgian-based Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, trudged through the sludge to their new home, a loaf of bread under one arm and a bottle of altar wine tucked under the other.”

By the time of my arrival in 1955 it was well developed, with the main buildings constructed of unplastered red brick, contoured and ornate. It would be wrong to imagine that because it was then reserved for Coloureds, we were highly privileged. The privilege, undoubtedly fundamental and vitally important, was that payment of basic fees by government was guaranteed. African black children were denied this.
However, as an educational institution, Embakwe was the poorest and most under-resourced of all Coloured schools in the colony. It was without both a science block and a library.

It is pertinent to point out that two great African schools in the Plumtree area, Empandeni and Tekwane, were both better resourced and each had a science block and a library. In addition the outside World would only grant scholarships to Blacks, not Coloureds, as we were classified as "White" for educational purposes. However this "White classification" gave us no access to scholarships to South African universities. So, to put it bluntly, we were stuffed!

All three schools however were "slums", when compared with nearby Plumtree High School, reputably one of the best schools in the history of the country, and therefore reserved for Whites. Most of the children in Embakwe were from poorer families. The school also served as a "reform school", to which problematical children were committed, on Court order.
Not to put too fine a point on it, we were a rough tough lot of proverbial ragamuffins ... as the picture, taken in 1956 of some Embakwe boys, shows

Still, I could not have got a finer education. The curriculum was British and students left on attainment of either Cambridge School Certificate of the General Certificate of Education [GCE].  It achieved a pass rate in excess of 95%. The current pass rate for South Africa [2008] as regards its Matric results is 62, 5%.

I could not have been better prepared for the problematical  world that this region was and still is. All of us are forever indebted to teachers like Richard Brown, Vernon Bowers, Danny Pillay, Abie Davies, Ethel Faul, nee Bowers, and our legendary Head Mistress Sister Mare Nugent SND.

Sister Mare was light years ahead of her time.  She introduced sex education in 1958, decades before the World even started thinking about it.  I should say we may have needed it rather badly. We boys boasted that we we all having sex and that our girlfriends fainted at the moment of penetration. All lies that nobody disputed.
She also introduced  "social and life skills", now standard subjects in schools.  In the result Vernon Bowers was tasked to teach us ball room dancing at which we all became proficient.  Believe me when I say she also allowed us to become champion "Rock n' Rollers", something most schools discouraged.

What makes me realize what genuis there was in our education is that our "Embakwe way of thinking" is now the vogue throughout the planet.

No one was more discerning of the inherent hypocrisy of so many "revolutions" than we were. George Orwell, and his iconic novel Animal Farm, represented truth in its finest form.  World history since then, especially as regards Africa, fully vindicates this perception.  

No one was more cynical about the inherent tendencies of dominant groups, and their governments, to propagate "convenient untruths" and suppress "inconvenient truths"  than we were. The "Arab Spring" and "Occupy Wall Street" has more than validated our cynicism, just for a start. 

However what clearly marked us out as being different was our brand of humour. It was unconventional, basic and thoroughly irreverent of the status quo.  At the time this incurred disdain for for us by others in society. We were often referred to as "raw", i.e, insufficiently sophisticated to appreciate social order and imperatives. Our stance, as regards people and governments, was that if you are going to be that concerned with self and your importance, you are already a big joke. In later life, when we met in pubs, a favourite song that we would resort to with little provocation was "Who is fooling who" by Ray Phiri and Stimela.
Today, programs like South Park, John Steward's "Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report", are smash hit industry standard examples of our Embakwe brand of humour and social commentary. Any number of my mates from school would be more than competent as a script writers for these shows. So we were indeed way ahead on our time.

This region has not been kind to us people of mixed race pedigree.  To Whites other Whites were regarded as "us", Black folk were regarded as "them" and Coloured folk as "the other”. It was a huge management problem for the colonial government, and its dominant White society, given the incredible racial diversity and colouring of my people.
It remains so to-day despite revolutionary changes in the region. We are still "the Other"[1]. Thus our kith and kin were brutally reminded of when they were recently told by Chief Government Spokesman, Jimmy Manyi that the Coloured people were "over represented" in the Western Cape, even though they are the sole descendants of the Khoekhoe and San people; the original inhabitants of the region. Where do we fit in under Zimbabwe's "indigenization" program? 

However, throughout the difficult period of the last 40 years, the "Embakwe spirit" has always been noticed, commented on, as being remarkable, infectious and indomitable. I like to think that I have in some way epitomized that spirit. As a result of the start I was given at Embakwe I did succeed in later life and have left some footprints in the sands of time. So too as regards most of my school mates. 

On behalf of myself and all ex-Embakweans I want to say "thank you" to Embakwe and, in particular, to Sister Mare Nugent and her incredible team of teachers mentioned above. You did indeed make a difference!
Deo gratias.

Extract from book --- 

25. And necessity is the mother of invention

It is 1958 and there is a terrible drought in the area. Cattle are dying. Carcasses are retrieved and dragged to the mission by tractor. The meat is served up in our meals. It smells rotten. We cannot eat it. Hunger is now the order of the day. Adventure Boys needs to deal with this privation. On Sunday afternoon the hostel master, Richard Brown, assembles the boys as is the routine. An audit is conducted as to what we will be doing that afternoon so that he knows where boys are and what they are up to. Adventure Boys is going fishing to the dam. We have constructed fishing rods which we hold up in a show of true intent. He waves us off.
We run off, but do not go to the dam. We hive off to a farm owned by a Mr. Skinner some 5 kilometers away. On arrival we survey our target. It is the fowl run, situated some 100 meters away in an open grassland clearing. Baiting our hooks with mealie rice, we leopard-crawl up to the fowl run. We cast our hooks into the run and soon bag two fowls.
It is just then that an ambush is sprung. Skinner's gang of workers have been waiting for us. They now start to emerge from behind a building a fair distance away. Mark starts to laugh uncontrollably. I shout out "belt it ... !" and we start to run. Given the head start we have, I have every confidence that the workers will never catch us. But then we hear the sound of barking dogs behind us. Dogs are quite another matter ... bad news ... very bad news. There is something terrible about knowing that you are being pursued by dogs. Dogs are fast. They will catch you, and when they do they will bite you, with big sharp teeth, and tear your flesh apart.
We run for all we are worth through the bush towards the river. The barking of the dogs grows louder as they gain on us. I think of dropping the fowl I am carrying in the hope that the dogs will stop to investigate it. Instinctively I change my mind, concluding that it is a vain hope. Ill gotten gains are never easily parted with. The river is in front of us. We run down the bank, across the dry river bed and up the other side.
Immediately we all stop, turn and crouch down, untangling our cattys from around our necks as we do so. Everything now goes into slow motion. As the first dog courses down the other bank, and reaches the river bed, the cattys twang in unison. There is a loud yelp from the dog and it half keels over. The second and third dogs meet the same fate. They yelp and howl out loudly as they are hit again and again. One runs back, the other two run around in circles howling and whimpering in pain. The workers have arrived. They stop and take cover on the other side of the river. There is a deathly silence, broken only by the now occasional whimper of the dogs, who have all rejoined their masters.
It is a classic stand-off. After a while we crawl away and make good our escape. Later the fowls are roasted on an open fire and eaten with some meat packed and reserved for consumption in the days to follow. Mark starts to laugh again and mimics the running around of the dogs after being hit by slingshot. "Did you see that...?" he says, face brimming with joy - "did you see how the garu[2] was yowling and yowling? " and shamelessly we all join in with peals of laughter.
The next day an identification parade is conducted. Skinner's workers pick out the other three members of our gang, but not me. Fuyane's [3] magic is at work. The punishment is six cuts and one week in the cellar. The cuts are administered in public, at the boys' hostel, on towel-covered buttocks, using a sjambok. Heads are then shaved and the culprits confined to a dark cellar receiving a little light via a very small ground level iron-grated window. Food consists of unsweetened mealie porridge served in the morning and the evening. After a week my friends emerge with eyes as big as an owls and a strong greyish white tinge to their skins on account of sunlight deprivation.

[1]  Book link site ---
[2] Garu – is an Embakwe term for “dog’
[3] Fuyane is the spiritualist who "fixed" me up at birth in traditional Ndebele "lungisa" ritual. 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dear Police Commissioner Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega

We wholeheartedly congratulate on your appointment as our Police Commissioner.  This is because, on your impeccable record, it is plain that you are a good person. 

It is not always the case that good people are elevated to high office.   Our country has seen a parade of mamparas given top jobs simply for being, either connected to the ruling elite, or being favoured in terms of the now pandemic culture of patronage. 

However, I still believe that advice is not misplaced.  We all need it.   In my humble view you have one big advantage already. You are a woman.  Based on a lifetime of experience, spanning over 40 years, I have little doubt that women are better as leaders. You may want to read my blog post titled "Now who should be the boss" -- at

Secondly, you certainly can do no worse than your two (2) male predecessors, the first of whom was no more, no less, a criminal. The second has only a nodding acquaintance with governance. 

Thirdly, from your record in particular, it is unlikely that you will be imbued with the customary arrogance that we have become accustomed to seeing with your male counterparts.  This means that you will be naturally inclined to understand your limitations as being "cadre deployed" and be willing to find ways and means to overcome them.
We have a spectacular precedent with another woman, Advocate Thuli Madonsela. 

Fourthly, as regards these limitations, I am sure you accept that, because you did not secure the post on merit, you have a very significant problem as a leader. Any leader's first attribute has to be credibility, i.e, instinctive widespread acceptance by those being led that the leader merits the position. This is especially so as regards disciplined forces, such as the army and police.

So you are in the very challenging situation of having to build up that credibility.   Accept it as an exciting challenge.   Use your God given talents to find the ways and means to build up you credibility.   There is much wisdom out there, especially from our elders, as to how to achieve this.   I really don't think that you have any difficulty in understanding that the normal male, testosterone driven, "I am the boss" approach will not work.  
A tip that I would respectfully recommend is to immediately openly acknowledge your limitations to your support team and adopt the stance that they have the skills to make you and them look good.  Empower them in a climate of diamond hard trust.   It will be something new for them and, if done right, will inspire them to respond positively ... towards you and their briefs. 

Fifthly, and MOST importantly, please understand that there is a wholesale lack of understanding of the underlying causes of our pandemic crime situation.  No question whatsoever!!!!   So you have an outstanding opportunity here. Really!  You have a unique opportunity to come up with the solution where others have failed --- DISMALLY! 

The current approach, now embedded by your predecessor Bheke Cele, of more police, more force, more violence, "shoot to kill", harsher penalties ... etc ... etc ... is incredibly naive and misplaced ... and doomed to failure.   A much more sophisticated, innovative and imaginative approach, involving the whole nation, is required.

You see, the underlying problem is a national phenomenon know as anomie.  Forgive me for imagining that you have not heard of this condition.   What it means is that our nation has a widespread culture od deviance, which then spawns crime.  For instance, I think you will agree that the same people who scream at our police force to shoot to kill, park their Mercedes Benz cars, go into a meeting, and then fix commodity food prices to to the detriment of the poorest.  Weekly,  Carte Blanche exposes lawyers, doctors, accountants, mechanics, politicians ..... (the list is endless) for deviant and criminal conduct.

The reality is that our whole nation is part of the problem. Our whole nation needs to be involved in the solution. Might I sincerely and respectful advise you to --- 
2. Immediately assemble a cluster of criminologists, who will not only confirm without exception that this advice is 100% sound, but will also help you plot a way forward. 

If you do this you will be the first leader in this country that displays an understanding of your brief on crime and will start the process to rid us of the scourge. More of the same will be a truly tragic mistake on your part.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.  Marie Curie

May the Good Lord guide you every step of the way!  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dear Danny Jordaan

All the news networks have carried reports of you “red carding” Euro 2012™ finals on the solemn grounds that, as a South African that made a stand against racism, you are compelled to do so now.

"If the host country acts contrary to the spirit of the game, then one must take a principled decision," you are quoted as saying.

“In this country we always condemn racism … so I must be consistent … strong condemnation is required” you have said live on news media. "If I am seen as fighting against it in my own country, I cannot be seen as turning a blind eye because it is in another country". 

Right now you are on E-TV saying that "in this day and age we cannot accomodate racism".

Danny, these are very pious statements. However, the whole world does believe you. Really! Many even admire your cancellation of a family trip to  Euro 2012™ .

Alongside is a plaque correctly depicting the apartheid socio-economic model.  F W De Klerk, and gang, cannot deny it, wish it away or seek to rationalize its reality.  I am sure you will agree that it is overtly racist in letter and spirit. No question! 

Under this model a White person was entilted, as of right, to a job and the award of contracts, denied to a Black person.

It is against this model that you are taking a stance against, telling the whole World that you are principled and consistent. You are 100% right. All right thinking human beings will agree with you.

Now please have a look at the plaque on the right side. It is EXACTLY the same plaque as the first one, with ONLY the colour coding reversed.

It correctly depicts the express letter and spirit of the current socio-economic transformational model in South Africa. No question! 

Under this model a Black person is entilted, as of right, to a job and the award of contracts, denied to a White person, even if the White is a 24 year old who had nothing to do with apartheid..

Under both models a Coloured person (and Indian) was/is forced to deny his/her ethnicity in order to access socio-economic justice.  

So here we have harsh reality. The current socio-economic transfomational model is an EXACT MIRROR IMAGE of the apartheid model. We cannot deny it or wish it away. 

If one is racist, so is the other; or is it not in terms of some new brand of logic?  When rights and priviledges are allocated on the basis of race/ethnicity/skin coloour we have racism. Or is this not the case in terms of  newly discovered reasoning? 
With respect, it cannot change simply because one is a White product and the other is a Black product. Surely?

So please explain to the World, that you are posturing to, why is it that you are not "taking a principled deciision"  and "a consistent stance"  as regards our current model?  

Why is it that you are not, in fact, "always condemning racism" having claimed that this is what we do in this country?

Is this what Nelson Mandela meant when he said in his "Never Again" speech that? - -
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
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