Hail Bob, full of grace…

22 05 2007

Well I’m not a Catholic, in fact I am an atheist, so I cannot even begin to fill in the rest of the title but thanks to a tip off I have found that Comrade Bob is building himself a shrine. For approximately 4 million US dollars we are going to get a shrine, a memorial to the wondrous deeds of our dear leader. It will contain, amongst other things, photos of His Nibs leading fearless guerillas in the Second Chimurenga (revolution), texts of his speeches both famous and otherwise, and a stuffed crocodile. Not any stuffed crocodile this, but a 50 year old male donated by his brown-nosing acolytes to symbolize, um, leadership? Maybe His Nibs is aspiring to the “personality cult” of the late leader of Turkmenistan who amongst other things built gold statues of himself that followed the sun. I got that little gem from an Israeli engineer who passed through here a few years back and had done several trips to Turkmenistan installing cotton quality analysing machines. Ah that we can afford multi million dollar shrines to our leader. While Zimbabwe starves Bob builds. And starve it will this year. The rains were unreliable as they often are in southern Africa so the maize harvest (ongoing) will be poor. But all is not lost. In will step all the various aid agencies to feed the masses and just coincidentally there is a general AND presidential election next year. So, you guessed it, food will be dished out to those who promise to vote the right way. Nothing new there.

It is worthwhile noting that Comrade Robert considers himself a Catholic. I suppose that Catholics do build shrines, though not often to themselves. It is also worthwhile noting that the Catholic church has not excommunicated him (though various student bodies and others are calling for the action). Maybe he is just not “controversial” enough? Or is it perhaps that abortion is only legal in Zimbabwe in the first trimester and for cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s health is endangered. (Pity the poor Nicaraguans where ALL abortion is outlawed. Sorry Mrs Gonzales, but both you and your child are going to die, but don’t worry, God loves you still). However, I did hear somewhere that Edinburgh University was considering withdrawing an honorary doctorate bestowed on Bob some years back for his services to education in Zimbabwe. Never mind, he can always fall back on his “degrees in violence” – I wonder if THAT speech will make the shrine displays?

And all the while my country burns. I got forwarded an email from my brother in the UK recently. He’d included a letter from an old family friend who lives just outside Mutare in the Eastern Highlands on a small property of about 20ha. Good friends of hers (whom I know) have to move off their dairy farm by September to make way for the new “owner” who happens to be the permanent secretary for agriculture. He is going to grow wheat and has not farmed before. The dairy farmer who is going to sell his entire herd for slaughter provides the local town with around 3000 litres of milk a day. The herd was started by his mother 72 years ago. He also grows the country’s only seed sorghum. Sorghum is a major constituent of the opaque beer that the locals love so much. So I guess the brewery will just have to import some sorghum – perhaps Robert could cut his shrine budget a little to provide for some beer for his loyal servants? Sue continues that her 91 year old father died recently but his body could not be cremated for five and a half weeks due to shortages of gas and maintenance issues (but how about a Hindu cremation in Kadoma?).

I was wondering about that shrine. Will we all be allowed to go and visit it? And take photos? That’s “we” the whites of Zimbabwe. There is of course another much bigger (well I ASSUME it will remain bigger) shrine to the fallen heroes of the 2nd Chimurenga. It is called “Heroes Acre” and is just outside Harare on the Bulawayo road (there are Heroes Acres dotted around various centres in the country but this is the most prestigious). It’s much bigger than an acre now that more heroes have died, often of mysterious car accidents or long illnesses. It does tend to be reserved for the Party Faithful, including the likes of Chengerai “Hitler” Hunzvi who was one of the architects (if you can call him that) of the 3rd Chimurenga, also known as the Fast Track Land Reform that sees so many Zimbabweans starving now. I have a feeling I would not be welcome there, and definitely not with a camera.

And another thing. Why a shrine now? Contemplating your mortality Robert? Perch a little shaky is it?


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One response

25 05 2007
Your Big Blister

Very excellent but I think you should be more careful about what you say and change people’s names so you aren’t trackable… I worry about that!

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