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X is for xenophobia : the match stick house

They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (‭Luke‬ ‭6‬:‭48-49‬ NIV)

When I am old and wizened I will tell my grandchildren a story. I will gather them around a fire( whether solar , charcoal or electric it doesn’t matter , it will be a fire).

A long time ago matchsticks whittled from an Africanus tree sought to be distinct from the sticks whittled from other trees of the other Continentus gene. They agreed that they needed to build an apex tower starting with a wide base at the bottom. They agreed that the best foundation was going to be  the dark clay soil that gave rise to hundredfold crops when cropped.

So the clay foundation was set. The sturdier sticks went to the base so as to form a stronger foundation. They took the weight of the Middle order that was yet finding its feet.  The lower order agreed to carry its brothers on their shoulders so that the apex of the house of Africanus would be higher than all the other houses.

The middle order agreed to carry the smaller but brighter small brother who need to see and receive more sunlight so that the jaundice hampering his freedom would wilt away.

They grew, toiled and sought very hard to ensure that the house of Africanus did not suffer fractions. The house of Africanus prospered. 

Until the bright young boy reached puberty and demanded that he be put down so that he could walk alone and prove his newly found manhood. The brothers of the Middle Order sought to curry favours and some refuge from his shadow. The  boy would have none of it. 

The moment he stood on his feet he demanded that the Middle order and the lower order move away from his father’s kraal. Protestations of the sacrificises the lower orders had made to ensure that the young boy survived fell on deaf ears. The Middle and lower orders dismantled themselves and left the clay base and the spritley young match on its own.

Staggering from the new found freedom and vigour and never having stood on his feet the young matchstick tottered for balance, he tried to find his feet, he staggered, he tried for the sunlight but the warmth was too far. The jaundice was itching again.

He tried to jump towards the sun for more sunlight and he miscued, staggered, hit his match stick head on the hot black clay surface . The red phosphorus head that had been dipped into candle wax hit the hard surface and a flame sparked. The bright boy was on fire.

The surrounding match brothers kept their distance because their heads would catch fire if they went near. 

They walked away sadly.

X is for xenophobia . ( to be continued)

X is for Xenophobia

 My earliest recall of what I thought was an earthquake was an earth shuddering sound that shook Bulawayo one night in the late eighties. I vividly remember a thumping sound, the earth rumbled, windows rattled,chickens squawked and dogs barked. In the middle of the night I could smell fear even in our parents as they whispered amongst each other trying to comprehend the cause of the big blast.

In the morning I was one of the first in the newspaper queue and The Chronicle was emblazoned with a black title reading ” BOMB BLAST IN TRENANCE”. We were to later learn that apartheid South Africa agents had infiltrated our country, identified a ANC safe house and had bombed it as we slept. Among the dead were Zimbabweans.

A letter bomb took the hand of an anti apartheid clergyman Father Michael Lapsely in Harare among other acts. 

History taught us how Zipra and Umkhonto we Sizwe operated in the Hurungwe hot zones in 1967 in the quest for independence for both countries. Years later , the independent countries suffered the brunt of supporting the liberation forces of South Africa and no country was spared. 

The Frontline  States were born out of a stubborn resolve to dismantle apartheid.

1994 everyone celebrated and serenaded South Africa . It was called the rainbow nation. 

Last week of 2005 going to the first week of 2006 the rainbow was smudged with the blood of fellow Africans no longer wanted in South africa. I learnt the word xenophobia.

After fighting to help the brothers gain advantage the brothers turned against their own fellow Africans citing disadvantage.

Last week the rainbow tapestry got more crimson. It continues to smudge as I speak, fuelled by genocidal incitement and tacit complicit inaction.

When we grew up, a tick on paper meant approval and correctness and an X meant wrong and possibly disapproval (except when we vote). Today the X in xenophobia cries out for the greatest disapproval ratings and we owe it to our children to stand up and speak against this ill.

In his book , My second Initiation: the Memoir of Vusi Pikoli, the writer speaks of the brunt borne by Lesotho nationals because of hosting ANC cadres. He speaks of Zambia and their days in Harare including their academic sojourns in these countries. 

Besides agents of the apartheid regime, they had nothing to fear.

But today our brothers have turned into agents of fear and purveyors of death. UnAfrican.

Whatever the reason, whatever decree, whatever grievance, all Africans are one as Credo Mutwa will say. We live, fight, celebrate and die together. 

Anything else is unAfrican.

X is for Xenophobia. (To be continued)