Musicians foot soldiers of politics

So Winky D released a catchy election campaign ditty entitled Parliament that is being reportedly appropriated by one of the political players on its campaign trail.

By Admire Kudita

As a matter of fact, several songs are being churned out and some such as Tanga wekwa Sando’s are preaching peace. Social media is awash with political jingles. I even got one from a friend of mine the lawyer Kucaca Phulu, who is the Nkulumane constituency MDC Alliance candidate.

Musicians and other creatives are thus being deployed to spread messages for parties and candidates. However, some of the songs being sung have yet to be recorded. I heard one during the week that got me thinking.

I mention that there is a Zimbabwe Peace Concert happening featuring the likes of Baba and Amai Charamba and one of Zimbabwe’s musical exports captioned “Mukhululi” Bhebhe on the poster? His correct name is Mkhululi Bhebhe. Please have the courtesy to cross-check on people’s languages and names.

National peace concert

Anyone who has cared to read history will testify that though war drums beat and people rage, the pipes of peace eventually must sound. Within a household, if the members start fighting, there really are no spoils.

I say this because there are disturbing voices I have heard personally and have read about. Let me say, that the kind of speech that denigrates or dehumanises another cannot be acceptable in a civilised society. Yet there is freedom of speech, we are told.

Moreover, the kind of speech that is abusive, violent and full of ethnic slurs is not acceptable if we want to build a nation. As much as this is the case, the underlying causes of the outbursts is the structural violence over time within Zimbabwean society. Regions have felt unattended and marginalised but this is not a uniquely Matabeleland issue. People need to travel. I am from Manicaland. I know.

But what is unique about Midlands and Matabeleland is the history of the massacres which have now provided fodder for the political vultures to let loose the dogs of war.

What we need is to be in concert as a nation about peace, justice and equality. We have a reasonably good constitution, we removed a dictator and now we must not be like children by acting as if nations are built in a day. We are in a midnight of change, but we must accept the undeniable fact that building bridges takes hard and long work. Our message must be unequivocal that the highest treason is to drive a wedge into the heart of our imperfect nation.

Dogs of war

For example, when a local politican says: “vachingovukura tichingotonga”, the metaphor is best understood by understanding the cultural context. In this case, the politician is using metaphor to denigrate opposition.

Literally translated, the phrase means: “they will be barking whilst we remain in charge”. What barks is a dog and therefore the metaphor is used powerfully to induce an image of an ineffective opponent who can only resort to making harmless noise. Additionally, people tend to beat hated dogs down . . . On another hand when another politican says “amaShona yinyoka” (literally traslated to say the Shonas are snakes and other unprintables), the idea is to induce hatred and potentially a violent reaction against the targetted group.

These two examples of speech qualify in view as hate speech. What is the intended effect of these words? It is clear to me that a party that is desirous of political office must disabuse itself of brinksmanship and such dangerous games.

It is incitement to violence whatever your cause may be. There is a reason why there is law and order in any society. Police have a duty to move pre-emptively to avert disturbances such as was the case on Wednesday at the Large City Hall when Mthwakazi Republican Party purported to gather and elect a provincial government. I saw the invites and an observer I spoke to yesterday said he saw the letter too.

The police understandably had to disperse the crowd. Besides this, the gathered crowd was carrying knobkerries. One may plead to be following culture but the context matters. In fact, the observer did raise the issue of the 1993 Inkatha incident when lives were lost in the ensuing melee of police and Inkatha supporters.

Do we never learn as Africans not to stoke these kinds of fires and should police have to permit such to happen? I think not.You may not like police but can we have a society without police? Anarchy has already been tried by the French. It birthed a reign of terror. It has been tried in Rwanda with similar results. I do not know why a party such as Mthwakazi Republican Party is moving its followers into such an intractable position.

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

We sang this song by the revered Catholic priest Francis of Assisi at assembly in high school. And when the late Bob Marley sang that “A hungry mob is an angry mob” he was right.

The words of both songs echoed in my mind as I left the meeting organised by Habakkuk Trust, Masakheni Trust and Christian Legal Society of Zimbabwe to give their statement on elections. My interactions at the meeting with attendees including observers and colleagues led me to the realisation that we have a viper in the midst. And that that viper is our very own heart that thirsts for evil. It is set to strike. Aside from real and substantial measures such as the NPRC and dialogue, we need a strong message to all political chancers dicing with the grenade of ethnic mobilisation. It is not the shiny, harmless glitter ball they think it is.

I speak to all political parties, their influential pastors and civil society organisations fronting for peace and even our Lord Jesus. Maybe as Africans we really are myopic and naive. Do we really think our fragments can avail much in the greater scheme of things ?