Preying on the dead


In my religion of Adventism, dead people have no influence on the living except lingering illusions of good and bad memories.

Hard-core traditionalists will argue that svikiros and amadhlozi are in themselves manifestations of a busy mysterious world of the dead, when those that have passed on make statements through selected village icons.

Grown men of respectable disposable incomes and social status visit cemeteries, lie prostrate and thank those who lie cold in fresh graves for leaving no stone unturned in punishing family adversaries! Pseudo-Christians even go further to justify voodoo practices by quoting Saul’s Old Testament’s encounter with the late prophet Samuel.

Of course, the devil’s work is on display in all manner and form, but those who have money to discard have found painless avenues — evoking the spirits of the dead.

Drunken vagrants taunt so-called evil spirits by crossing graveyards after dark, but the worst fate to befall them is a nasty fall onto a headstone!

My experience is that one can say the most vulgar things about the dead without so much as losing a single hair.

But of late, we have had high-level graveside theatrics to correct misdemeanours of the past.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is not an Adventist, so he might not know the basic doctrinal fact that dead men don’t give standing ovations even after emotional apologetic eulogies.

And so whatever good intentions he had of what he said about the late Gibson Sibanda, they will count for nothing for eternity, except in the unlikely event that these two both live in the same fashionable neighbourhoods in Heaven.

Sibanda, meanwhile, lies deep in the cold soil of the unfashionable neighbourhoods of Komcondo, Insiza, so he does not, will never know how sorry his former colleague in the struggle is about the MDC split.

The proverbial phrase about turning in one’s grave does not apply, except in the minds of scriptwriters of great film epics like Morgan and the Temple of Self-Doomception.

And yet Tsvangirai for once got his facts right on the split, and if my old friend Trudy Stevenson were there, she would have bowled over in ecstatic and sarcastic French laughter:

“The political developments in this country will never be the same again after the formation of the MDC, but the saddest thing in my life is the split of the MDC,” Tsvangirai mourned.

I personally have had saddest points in my life: deportation from England in 1998 due to poor documentation, breaking a leg in 1981 playing soccer in a dusty field in Kawangware squatter camp, Nairobi, and, of course, being told I was a skinny good-for-nothing boy back in 1973 by the pretty girl next door!
Sadness comes with a price.

At one time in March 2008, we all thought Tsvangirai was president-elect until Mugabe eloped with the election results! Tsvangirai waited for political volcanoes to explode, but the mountains of national sadness remained dormant until Mugabe declared himself a one-band winner.

So much for sadness! Trudy would chuckle: “That’s Morgan for you, waiting for the world to come to his rescue!” Make me prime minister and I could have a sad day once every thirtieth funeral! In fact, I would even be sadder if I buried only one dictator once every 30 years!

Here is more fodder for typical Trudy laughter: “What we said after the split, I regret it. I am sorry Gibson for what we said at that moment, it was a moment of weakness and it was not worth it,” said an emotional Tsvangirai at Sibanda’s memorial service. Hello! Gibson, can you hear me? I said I am sorry, so get out of that casket, let’s hug and go back to Harvest House. This time handilume!

I mean I thought comedy hour was only in the politburo! Luckily, sadness is curable — take one ice cube once a day after every meal. It dissolves fast! What a joke, another moment of weakness, like Umdala Wabo signing the unity agreement under duress or Perence giving orders for the castration of all Ndebele men! Some sad moments are longer than others, but it’s not funny, for if it was, Professor Mutambara would be laughing.

Apologising is not a new phenomenon, but apparently, Mugabe does not have the word in his Shona dictionary. It’s an African man thing. My wife thinks I don’t apologise often enough – but we have not split! Apologising — they say — is a sign of weakness, at least at ZBC and The Herald.

Play Nyatsoteerera as often as you want, who’s listening anyway? If you apologise, the referee will show you the red card. He hates weaklings!

In some quarters, apologies are a delicacy. Fidel Castro apologised for mistreating gays.

The Pope did so on behalf of Irish child molesters, so did the Australians for exterminating aborigines.

Welcome to the apology hall of famers, Tsvangirai.

Tell me, I haven’t seen Bishop Kunonga, Mugabe or Temba Mliswa. Could they have been caught up in the apology logjam?

My wife has a saying: “All men are dogs.” The only problem: would they cross over to exercise their extra-marital conjugal rights with members of the canine race? Her point is that we men are gifted liars.

We even deceive the dead, hoping that those who are alive will believe us. As Akon admits: “You can put the blame on me. . .” Welcome to the apology hall of fame.

Perhaps if Tsvangirai had not said he hates Senate elections and governor posts, Mutambara’s business would be thriving at Sandton City.

For all I care, he would be listed on the JSE – the only African to have discovered a way of tracking dead man’s coefficient of response to apologies via magnetic resonance and levitation!

We all make mistakes, but some mistakes last longer than others! Mr PM, graveyards house coffins, not ballot boxes.

Rejoice Ngwenya is a social commentator

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