Arise Mai Grace, lest we perish

By Rejoice Ngwenya

Dear Amai First Lady


IN African tradition, when a boy or a man is in distress, in great pain or about to

die, he summons just enough energy to call his mother. The mother is the cradle of life, an umbilical cord that bridges the dark depths of the invisible with the ecstasy of free breathing.


Mothers pay a high price for procreation, but ultimately get rewarded with the gift of life. Hapana akaita saAmai, so sings Elijah Madzikatire. Therefore, Amai First Lady, hear us, the last cry of a people in excruciating pain, having laboured under the yoke of food shortages, transport blues, barren farmlands, mealie-meal, bread and sugar queues and now face-to-face with the evil and mortal blow of Operation Murambatsvina.


How much more can we suffer? The book of Judges says: “Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel.”

Arise, Amai, arise and give guidance to those men around you who have lost all sense of human dignity in pursuit of a selfish, vindictively destructive agenda under the false guise of Operation Murambatsvina.


Village life in Zimbabwe has ceased. On Caledonia farm, your children huddle around in the dead of night, their soft limbs quivering in the stinging nocturnal breeze of June. At Chaka Growth Point, your children suckle at withered breasts, rubbing hot foreheads that have been scorched by the African sun.Until you arise, you, the First Mother of Zimbabwe, your children will perish in the avalanche of despair that has been ignited by Operation Murambatsvina.


None of the men that surround you have ever experienced the pain of birth or long nights of shrill cries of a child whose stomach turns like a volcano. Those men who sit beside you have no experience of the nausea and the stinging back pain that brings a wonderful life into the world or the tasteless crusts of red soils scraped off old Jacaranda trees. They know nothing of losing oceans of blood to sail a tender infant on the river of life. Theirs is a world of power, destruction and reproduction. But why reproduce to kill, I ask, Amai First Lady?


Your children at White Cliff and Hatcliffe are staring death in the face. No shelter, no water, no life. Isaiah asks: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has born…?”


Amai First Lady, can you forget your children who lick the dust in the streets of Zvishavane or blot from your memory the little white eyes that sparkle in the moonlight along Mukuvisi River? What about the soft knees that crawl on the hot gravel in Rimuka, Kadoma, would you forget? Certainly not!


Those men who purport to carry the seal of your husband, Amai First Lady, pounding at the walls of a kiosk in Senga, Gweru, are hypocrites. Their bellies are full. They kiss their children on the forehead as they drop them at Fletcher High, and yet strike at the only source of income that will take your children, Amai First Lady, to Pakhame Mission.


Those men who purport to represent your husband’s throne are great pretenders. They have spent hundreds of nights and thousands of dollars huddled in a wood cabin in Sakubva, Mutare, making love to concubines, and yet when the sun rises, they burn the napkins and towels of your children, Amai First Lady. Do they deserve to live? What kind of a man, Amai First Lady, can order a bulldozer to crush the bananas of a poor breast-feeding mother in Mbare Musika?


Can we say to a man like that, as Luke says: “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” Certainly not!


I can testify that men litter the history of this country, or the world for that matter, with cases of destruction. It is a man who invented the nuclear bomb that destroyed thousands upon thousands of children at Hiroshima. It is a man who instigated the extermination of millions of Jews and started the Second World War that wiped out millions of children.


It is a man who murdered thousands of citizens in Uganda. Is it not a man who ordered, Amai First Lady, the vicious napalm bombing of hundreds of children at Chimoio? What about the massacres of innocent civilians in Matabeleland? Was it not a creation of men?


Who sent Nelson Mandela to Robben Island or struck the nails that crucified our Lord and Master?


Now we know that it is a man who ordered the plunder and destruction in this so-called Operation Murambatsvina that has left thousands upon thousands of your children homeless, cold, sick and hungry.


Therefore, Amai First Lady, can you entrust the lives of your children even with those men that sit next to you? Certainly not!


The solution, our hope, the future of the children is in your hands, Amai First Lady, because you yourself are a mother. Use your motherly instincts to call off these cruel, vicious hounds called men who are going from house-to-house, market-to-market and street-to-street, destroying the future of your defenceless children. Apply your motherly charm and authority to stem the tide of anger and hatred against innocent citizens of Zimbabwe who have known nothing but struggle to cling to dear life in the past five years.


*Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based writer.