Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bob- The Teacher

Poor Comrade. He used to be the brightest African revolutionary, a celebrated liberator, a teacher and a Marxist. All that has changed now, the people he had once liberated from the ruthless colonialist claws, nurtured and educated, have now turned to his punching bag. The land he once fought to liberate, has been pauperized by no other, than the man himself. His 25 years of governance has been that of absolute power control. His party dominates the national political landscape- occupying 147 out of the country's 150 parliamentary seats- and he gets to hand pick 30 of his own choosing.

“Mid life” Crisis
Absolute power corrupts absolutely they say. It first started as a crackdown on homosexuality. The hallmark of “this war against immorality and sodomy” was the arrest and conviction of Canaan Banana, his predecessor. The Teacher is a self-confessed Catholic, yet he seared two children out of wedlock, while his legitimate wife, Sally, was dying from cancer! He later had a catholic mass to consummate and solemnize his marriage to his mistress, Grace, a woman 40 years his junior, his former secretary, and the mother of his children.

At a time his country’s economy was taking a nose dive, he ventured into the Congo on the pretense of helping out. The world later found out that he and his cronies were busy helping themselves to Congo's mineral reserves.

Senile years
Looking for avenues to energize the electorate, he embarked on one of the most ambiguous projects of all time- land reform. He evicted thousands of white farmers and allocated choice plots to his cronies. On the surface, the concept of land redistribution is warranted given that the white minorities owned slightly more than a third of the land in the country. Compared to black farmers, the land owned by white farmers were also located in areas with surplus rain and more fertile. But there is no economic sense in taking away land from the white farmers, who were mostly commercial tobacco farmers (the major export produce), to black farmers, who are mostly subsistence farmer with little or no skills of commercial farming.

When the “whitties” left, he turned on his own people, he evicted and bulldozed them out of their urban slums. What was the pretense, this time around? The slum dwellers are economic saboteurs, a bunch of criminals, he said. They are responsible for undermining the economy. He calls them “Thrash” and he wants them out! Yet this is the same man that engineered a national system that resulted in an impressive 85% literacy rate, the highest in Africa. What went wrong, Teacher?

The second coming?
The fortune of his nation dwindles as he grows older. The Teacher will be 84 years old by the time his term expires, then he would have ruled for about 30 years. May be he will call it quit then.

He has burnt some many bridges over the years. The modern world want to have nothing of him, his people hate him, his associate dissociate themselves, and he’s been ostracized by one global community after another. Now, it is the IMF: he has to come through with some money owned, and the only name left in his rolodex is China. May be the Teacher will go back to Marxism again and start wearing those safari suits.

You never know with the Teacher. One thing is certain though: Bob- The teacher, once tagged “the African beacon of hope”, has lost his mind!

Post Script
The situation in Zimbabwe is deplorable, and I empathize with Zimbabweans.

It is a baffling phenomenon that Bob has now degenerated into a persona of morbid imbecilic tendencies. Definitely, 25 years is too long a period to govern, even if he has good intentions. There is no difference between him and his once arch enemies- the white colonialists.

What makes the situation even more painful, is that there seem to be no respite in sight- AU leaders seem unperturbed of the signs and symptoms of senility he has displayed so often lately...Then China’s seemingly benevolent gesture (1 billion dollars in aid) is more like a much needed oxygen for a dyspneic, desperate, and dinosaurian despot. Talk of poring gasoline on an already raging inferno…

My prayer is that Zimbabweans don't run into a huge conflagration in the future.

There are many despotic "Bobs" in Africa, and God will deliever us them all!