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Is Being Born Zimbabwean A Crime?


I am Lucifer Mandengu. I was born here against my will. I should have been born elsewhere — of some other parents. I have never liked it here, and I never shall and if ever I leave this place, I am not going to come back. It is the failure’s junk heap. Those who go to the towns only come back here to die. Home is where you come back to die, having lived all your life elsewhere. Home is a cluster of termite eaten huts clinging on the stony slope of a sun-baked hill. What is here that’s worth loving? What is here — in this scrub, in this arid flatness, in this sun-bleached dust to love? You go for mile after mile in this swelter and not here, not there, not anywhere is there a tree big enough to sit under. And when you look everywhere all you see is the naked white earth criss-crossed by the eternal shadow of the restless vulture, I have been born here but is that a crime? That is only a biological and geographical error

I am no son of a liberation fighter or a struggle icon. My father did not carry a gun; neither did he stand on any podium to speak against the vile idiosyncrasies of the white man. He was too young or worse still, a coward to do so (something I might have picked up from him as well), I do not know. However I am sure he fought for this country in his own way; either in his heart or with silent whispers of cursing against the oppressive colonial system. How he fought will remain a mystery to me but I am guaranteed he fought his fight and shall reap the rewards of his race (if he has not already earned them).

In case he did not fight with me his son in mind, I am certainly guaranteed there is someone buried in a shallow unknown grave who thought about the generations to come. Someone who thought land, education, health care and wealth would be for free and accessible to everyone after he/she laid down his/her life for the cause. However close to four decades later we still wonder whether this is what the fallen hero/heroine fought for? Did my unknown hero/heroine fight for hunger, poverty and ill health? Did my hero/heroine die so that I compete for imbuya with arses in the back yards of Pumula? I am ashamed to admit it but we have been reduced into the scum of the earth the daily life we exist has lowered our expectations and we have “anthemised” the James Chimombe’s Kudakwashe song. Whatever is readily available, we will take it. Sithwala esikukwanisayo!!!

I have failed to identify the stories I will tell my grandchildren around the electric fireplace in the future. One thing I know is that I will surely tell them of the generation we have become. We are that generation that has turned kujingiridza into a full time job. We are that generation that has normalised cigarette and sweet vending to be a university graduate’s 8-5. We are that generation that thinks it is impossible to be a cabinet minister at 25years. We are that generation that still has 55 year olds standing on podiums and calling themselves youths. Our birth-right has been stolen/looted in front of our eyes. Yes we are that generation that has lost hope in all things pertaining dreaming big. Owning a house and driving a car has become a mark of success more than it is a mark of reaching expected milestones in normal human life. We are that generation that when fed with bread crumbs, screams “Mama I’ve made it”.

Who are we suffering for? What have we done to deserve this hot pebble being shoved down our youthful throats?

My motherland feels like a prison. Maybe I should pack my belongings and leave like the rest of my brothers and sisters that took the Wenela route… It is better to risk dying in the hands of a stranger through xenophobia rather than the Cain and Abel way? What have we done? What are we suffering for? Should we follow our brothers and sisters that have been swallowed by the unquenchable thirsts of eGoli, only to come back bed-ridden and riddled with disease?

I am 30 and have never had the privilege of working from an air-conditioned office. There are no jobs they say. The only jobs available are for our “experienced grannies” that occupy these high post positions and still think a typewriting machine has a place in the office. How will they feel for us when they do not relate to us, let alone breathe the same air as ours? My grandmother, who happens to be their peer, cannot afford basic medical care and will slowly fade away into the abyss of the many names that have died unattended to in hospital queues. I hope one day she also gets chartered to Singapore for her hip surgery.

In “Waiting For the Rain”, maybe Lucifer was right. Maybe he saw into the future and we were too quick in persecuting him for being a bootlicker for the white man. We might have been too blind to see it; maybe being born in “Manyeni” is truly a geographical and a biological error; we were born here against our will after all no one chose to be here. If we had the option of choosing our birth place, many might have withdrawn their rights to be born here.

Why do we feel this kind of anger and frustration towards a country where our umbilical cords were buried? What have the young people done to deserve this kind of torture? Those born in poverty continue to languish in poverty whilst those that were born with silver spoons up their behinds continue to post “Good Life” pictures with Rolex watches, expensive champagnes and fancy cars. All I can do is ask myself is this question; Will the scales of justice ever tip in the favour of the have nots, or justice is nothing but a utopian dream that we have been fed for millenniums?

Mqabuko said, the young people shall not let this country die, they shall save it. How come the young people are dying from hunger, frustration, depression and anger, before this country has been saved?

Why does it have to be us suffering? Why does it have to be our country in so much turmoil?

‘Today we ask: Where are we? Who are we? What wrong did we do?’