Where are the cows?
Everyone has heard the tale of the two cows. In socialism, you have two cows, and you give one to your neighbour.
In communism, you have two cows, the government takes both and gives you milk. In fascism, you have two cows, the government takes both and sells you the milk. In Nazism, you have two cows, the government takes them and kills you.
Now new variations to the theme have emerged. In France, you have two cows, you go on strike because you want a third cow. In China, you have two cows, you sell milk to your compatriots and you produce a plastic milk hybrid for export to the world.
In Africa, you have two cows, you eat them and you hope that donors or the international community will give you more cows. When donor fatigue sets in, you go to church, then you go to wealthy self-styled prophets and if that doesn’t work you lose all hope. Now comes lethargy not to do anything about it.
Cruel but true here in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the unkown author of the Africa addition to the care or otherwise of cows doesn’t mention a trip to a traditional healer (n’anga, siviriko, or sangoma known uncharitably overseas as witchdoctors) for final redemption.
Down here, our culture is deeply rooted in superstition and ancestral lore.
This election-time nice big cars will be seen outside the huts and shacks of n’angas because politicians in suits want to know their fortunes or get help for success at the ballot box.
Robert Mugabe, a scholar who had a string of university degrees, made his own spirit medium plant charms in the grounds of his presidential residence to ward off the evil spirits of victims of his lethal repression.
But It is said a popular guerrilla general in the war for independence still visited Mugabe at the midnight hour. Josiah Tongogara, who died mysteriously at the end of the war, was seen as a rival for the leadership of the new state of Zimbabwe.
“You can’t bring me back, Robert, but you can look after my family and my people better than you are doing,” Tongo’s spirit told Mugabe..
How do we know this?
“Our general also visits us to console us that he is no longer our leader but he is with us always in spirit,” a loyalist ex-guerrilla under Tongogara’s command has explained it.
Not to say ghosts are not conjured up in the rest of the world.
But as a rule we don’t mock our beliefs. We don’t cremate our dead here because that would anger the spirits and break lines of communication with the ancestors. Our towns are fast running out of burial plots..
Our national cattle herds had been severely depleted in recent years. Cows be damned. We’ve still got goats, for now.
Only minor magic and spells can be lampooned. Like this, a story doing the rounds in times of economic crisis at the moment. A man catches a python in the belief that deadly snakes can be charmed into vomiting money. The python vomits worthless local currency this time around, not precious American dollars. Oh, woe.
Here below our catastrophically weak Zimbabwe dollar is trying to catch up with strong currencies on the school sports field and President ED implores the spirits to give him a helping hand.
(Cartoon credit: Tony Namate)