I agree with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe!


When His Excellency gave a TV interview to a Chinese news channel very few people paid attention to the contents of the interview. A discerning journalist picked it up and flighted it in The Herald under the banner “President Mugabe calls for compulsory HIV testing.’’

Picture these scenarios.

  • A 34 year old man is arrested for forcing himself onto a 16 year old girl at a lodge. Mind you there is no charge about abduction but the two are said to have fallen in love some time ago. The issue only came to light when he tried to have the girl undergo an abortion.
  • A man takes a teen girl to hotel on a date. He has unprotected sex with her and upon returning home her parents chase her away for coming home late. She elopes to him; they stay as man and wife, she falls pregnant, tests HIV +, the man refuses to test but continues to have unprotected sex with her until 2 dead children later when  he is forced to go and test and tests positive. He is arrested and faces criminal charges relating to deliberately exposing someone to HIV Infection.
  • A born again brother meets a sister in church, the brother is a steadfast Christian and a virgin. The sister is recently born again but having had the ‘worldly experience’ including a few sexual escapades during ‘satanic bondage’. They marry and the brother loses his virginity and gets an STI on the honeymoon night.
  • A man on the rebound finds ‘love’ in a senior lady who pledges undying love and six months later she refuses to have condoms used on her ‘as if she is a lady of the night’. The enthralled brother construes it to imply trust and ‘swims’ the ocean un-costumed. A year later she succumbs to a chest infection, is hospitalized, tests HIV + and in the middle of a family squabble her sister blurts out that the lady was aware of her status since four years back since the death of a headmaster that she was a small house to.

Needless to say, we all have at one time encountered similar scenarios and all this bedlam has done is to exacerbate the spread of this scourge. Despite media drives to de-stigmatize this issue many people would rather die in ignorance than know their status. I have seen big men wilt as they await their test results. For a moment your whole life is replayed and all the microscopic details are splashed before your mental HD screen.

While the President’s statement might come across as stentorian but in it is an appeal to all Zimbabweans to understand that knowledge is power. In it is an admission that without knowing our statuses and using that knowledge to live more positively we are doomed. This coming from a leader must be read to be an impassioned plea to save ourselves from our own selves. Knowing your status, positive or negative, is a key to living your life adeptly. I know of men who would rather use procreation as their test method. They look at their infant children and as the tots grow older the fathers pride themselves of being untainted!!

What I read in the President’s speech is a cry to all people to take up a cause of self-preservation. What we need to do as a nation is to return to childhood where we proudly wore those school badges that were emblazoned with the motto KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. I aver that if all stipulations were met, with appropriate privacy and information dissemination, compulsory testing is the key to our emerging from this scourge that is threatening to obliterate humanity.

How many innocent victims must die before we realize this reality? How many gullible people must die before this genocidal tendency is nipped in the bud. From most conversations I have had people are more scared of the tests than the eventual results. What is missing is the national courage to stand up, walk into a New Start center and get to know one’s status. What we need therefore is the urging on for I still believe that knowledge is power.

Tough but true. Hard but possible.

HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?

There is this picture that refuses to go away from my mind. It is a pity I cannot recall the day it appeared in The Chronicle. In it are two people besides a road near Security Mills in Belmont, Bulawayo. The two are male and female. The female is crying bitterly while the male stoically stands in front of her in the way the baboon alpha males used to stand in front of their females in Chirundu when the females were hesitant to partake in midday open coitus.

The caption mentions that the lady was apparently being beaten by a boyfriend over some alleged infidelity. The picture is so poignant such that I see her tears and can almost hear her wail. Surprisingly, no one else is in the picture and there is no mention of what transpired after that.

But madoda that is someone’s child being beaten in public, over some alleged pubic activity, by someone who has decided to lord it over her. I am not for infidelity( having been victim) and would be the first to condemn it in the loudest decibel I can muster but that does not give someone the right to publicly assault a defenseless woman in that manner. That is someone’s child who was conceived in the same manner like you. A woman carried her in her womb till she expelled her onto the outside world but she was not born to be your beating drum! How does the belly that carried that girl feel when her daughter makes 2nd page news being bashed by a bully whose hands itch every time he comes across a female?

Granted, no one wants to be betrayed but no one wants to be abused! The cameraman captured a sad picture but I read more than that in it. I see a society that fails defenseless women who are abused openly by men who deem themselves all powerful. The fact that she got beaten to the extent of shamelessly crying means this happened over a long time, long enough for someone to have intervened. But no one did and I guess the alpha male just strutted off muttering some imbecile words about harlotry and infidelity and most likely he walked into another woman’s arms after that!

Granted, women are beautiful people who also make mistakes but sanction must not be battering. Has talking failed? What happened to the sense of reason? Have aunties failed? Fists and slaps never solved anything. They actually breed emotional callouses that never wear off. It is nobler to walk away than use booted feet and fists. A male who sinks so low to the extent of battering a woman so unashamedly does not deserve to be called a man. Honestly, what man would do that?

And the most vivid ornament in the picture is a long rosary of white beads hanging on her neck culminating in a bone white cross near her midriff.  Poignancy? Sacrilege? Futility? WHAT?

DANCING WITH SHADOWS

After a hectic working week that also eats into three quarters of my Saturday I find I still have to drive 600+ kilometers nonstop to meet another deadline. After fighting hard for supplies and replenishments I hit the road and what strikes me is how many times those wheels will turn to eventually deliver me to my destination. I ponder on what could go wrong. The wheels could deflate, the engine might seize, the car might overheat etc. Surprisingly, I hit the ignition key and confidently steer onto the highway convincing myself that it won’t happen to me.

Even as I pass the burnt out skeletons of cars on the highway I convince myself that I will not fall victim. Even when my spine is heavily jarred by an unseen pothole and I have to swerve suicidally I remain adamant that death or injury are not my pot.

When the sun sets and the shadows creep toward the highway I flick my lights on, put the air con to low so that the heat does not overwhelm me. I shiver inwardly but grateful that I will not doze on the wheel. As I pass the kilometer pegs I have a fleeting image of them being a mounted guard of honor waiting for a small error to turn me into a deceased villain. Every kilometer peg that I pass increases my defiance to be another statistic. I resolutely soldier on until the’ beware of the dog’ sign flaps non chalantly on my gate and I know I am at home.

I realize that to get home I have danced with many shadows not of my making. I have danced with mechanical, structural, physical, human and mental shadows many of which could have swallowed me into oblivion but my resolute intent not to be spun into their web kept me going.

As I lay down to sleep I find myself  laughing at myself at how I put so much trust onto things I have no control over and yet I am scared to dance with my own shadow. My shadow, a creation of light reflecting upon me!

So much faith goes into the odds against our survival and I wonder if I put all that faith to govern the way I live my life would I not be one of the most resolute, disciplined, faithful and determined people?

I sink to oblivion promising that with effect from tomorrow, I will not be scared to dance with my shadow ever again.