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When bully tactics go way overboard


There were two stories that made an impression on me in 2010.

We all know about the Chilean miners so no need to repeat that other than to say it was the biggest story for me.

The other story is rather obscure and not really important in the larger scheme of things.

A 21-year-old student became mayor of a small town on the Mexico-Texas border.

Now anyone can be mayor I suppose but consider this: she took a job no one wanted.

Mexico is country now run by drug lords and the warning is that it may become a failed state.

These narco kings kill political figures, the police, rivals and anyone that crosses their path.

One Mexican commented: “Even ghosts are afraid to come out at night.” So you can imagine you would rather be the mayor of Muzarabani than some Mexican town right at the drug transit point.

But the young mayor stated: “I am tired of living in fear”. And that sentence struck a chord with me because for much of life I have lived in fear.

My fears may have started off with two particular bullies in my childhood: Patrick and Kenny.

But I will tell you about Kenny some other time.

Patrick was a year older and we stayed in the same street.

As I came from school he would invariably be sitting on the metal bins provided by the Rhodesian Government (did KP van der Byl know bullies loved to sit on top of bins and watch their prey passing by?).

This particular bully knew something about me. My grandmother, among many other things, ran a vegetable market stall.

I was always loaded with fruits, groundnuts and more.

Now this bully was a socialist, he believed he needed to re-distribute my fruity wealth.

I felt the injustice of this but I obliged. I was not going to get free plastic surgery from this so on most days Patrick would call me over and I would hand over my “contraband” without fail.

I was a model citizen in the Bully Republic. Years later I would watch Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump and would identify with the famous line, “Run, Forrest, run!”
But one day something happened.

It was not the deus ex machina, the divine intervention that happens in Greek mythology when our hero is a spot of bother. It was my brother, Rex.

He just appeared from nowhere and grabbed the bully from the back.

Now my brother is a quiet guy, he hates confrontations but you know you should not push him too far.

He pounded that boy and I could only wince.

The erstwhile bully escaped up a mango tree. Rex followed him up to the apex.

Mr Bully had no choice but to obey something called gravity.

Apparently, it’s a force that fulfils our ancestors saying “chinobhururuka chinomhara” (all that flies has to land).

Patrick cascaded down the tree and found himself on the stony and dusty ground, writhing in pain.

Rex said, “If you dare touch my brother again . . .” We rode off on our horses into the sunset, well, sorry, we walked home barefoot. For many a day after that Patrick would watch me with malevolence as I passed by.

I would glance at him furtively, pretending to be all cool, calm and collected. The reign of terror had ended but my heart still pounded.

Years later I would work in places where I had endure or fight racist bullies.

As we all know in southern Africa there has always been a salary or consultancy fee that is paid to certain people and another paid to others.

I have fought my wars on that front and it’s a continuing battle.

Or it could be a restaurant in Cape Town where no one would serve you because they were busy and somehow you were invisible.

Or you could just be eating ice cream and someone could just stare and smirk at you, because they can.

Or it could be Zimbabwe’s largest advertising agency offering me a job as copywriter in 1994 and treating me like dirt.

Eleven years ago I would leave my country of birth – forced to seek succour elsewhere as political bullies ran the country aground.

In December 2010, the same crowd of bullies gathered at my birthplace in the Eastern Highlands and resolved to continue their bullying ways.

As I sat in a fancy restaurant playing around with the bill of $65 for just two people and yet many teachers had not been paid their salaries, I reflected on the injustice of it.

On how bullies would spin that story whilst looting the national coffers, redistributing poverty and declaring their divine right to lord it over us in perpetuity.

“We died for this country,” says one bully, showing a protruding belly that is very much alive.

I have never fancied myself as some kind of David confronting Goliath but I am tired of running away from bullies or of smiling politely when I am hurting. As Bob Marley puts in the militant tune The Heathen:

“Rise, oh fallen fighters
Rise and take your stance again
Coz he who fights and runs away
Lives to fight another day. . .”

The late Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskayaonce declared: “Journalism is my only weapon”.

For those of associated with the Fourth Estate, journalism could be the only torch we hold to light the way for a nation groping in the dark.

I am tired of living in fear.

Chris Kabwato is the publisher of ziminpictures.com

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