SHONAS have this wisest of sayings: “Seka urema (or hurema) wafa.”
CONWAY TUTANI ECHOES
This is roughly translated into: “As long as you live, don’t laugh at someone’s physical disability or misfortune because it may be visited upon you or afflict you before you die and you will suddenly find yourself in the same boat with those you have mocked.” Indeed, tomorrow never knows.
Like urema, illness can strike at any time That is why ordinarily people don’t take sick leave in advance unless they are going for a major operation. The rich, the poor, the powerful, the weak, your friends, your enemies, whatever political hue, from MDC-T to Zanu PF — no one is spared from illness or misfortune.
An identifiable section of the media went into overdrive early last week over opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s alleged backdoor getaway from a private hospital without paying his bill.
There were a few takers of this obvious exaggeration. Such distortions offend common sense. When a story sounds too good to be true, then it’s indeed too good to be true, especially with the graphics in one newspaper which reminded me of the make-believe Batman, Superman and Spiderman comic books which I avidly read as a six or seven-year-old boy.
Such comic book stuff should not make it to the front page of a newspaper.
They could have simply told the truth, but they did not.
They could not let facts get in the way. We know that Zanu PF and MDC-T are not the best of friends, but the media, unless it has abandoned its role as a stand-alone Fourth Estate or Fourth Pillar in society of checking and keeping on their toes the other three estates of governance — the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, making up the Government — must not get entangled in such partisanship. The media cannot be part and parcel of the Government.
They owe the nation some honesty and integrity.
Whatever happened was not of criminal intent. Tsvangirai, his entourage and the nurse who has been — to all intents and purposes — victimised for “aiding and abetting his escape”, might be stupid, but not that stupid.
In an ironic twist of fate last week, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri — not necessarily that he had anything to do with the stage-managed sting operation to expose Tsvangirai as a bilker (one who evades paying one’s debts) — collapsed the very next day at a police passout parade right in front of President Robert Mugabe.
As far as illness goes, there is no political divide. From the pictures, Chihuri’s fall was indeed spectacular, but not a funny sight. It was a fall, but not a fall from grace.
The inclination of level-headed, mature people is to rush to help, not derive pleasure from someone’s suffering like the many sadists among us.
That this happened so soon after some newspaper’s insensitive reporting and cartooning of Tsvangirai’s illness and “escape” from hospital shows how small and powerless we are — each and every one of us — in the scheme of things.
Many things are out of our hands. That you are the paragon of physical fitness today does not guarantee that you will not be in a wheelchair tomorrow. Accidents and debilitating illnesses do afflict people. A person’s life can be completely changed in just a few short months as the disease progresses.
A former Central Intelligence Organisation director-general, who suddenly went totally blind, is a sad, but real example.
Not to be left out in this onslaught was University of Zimbabwe Department of Political Science chairperson Dr Charity Manyeruke, who bought the story hook, line and sinker, saying with obvious relish: “As a political leader, you are supposed to lead by example, but what he (Tsvangirai) did by leaving the hospital without paying was tantamount to being a criminal . . .”
This can only be from somebody who has already made up her mind that everything to do with Tsvangirai is stupid. It’s a reflex — not academic-based — response. What about the biggest defaulter of all in this country — the government itself? Ask Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa. Ask the International Monetary Fund. And those Cabinet ministers owing power utility Zesa and water utility Zinwa millions of dollars?
Manyeruke’s value-laden comments have nothing to do with political science because there is no comparative analysis. “Value-laden” is used in communication and education/training to mean statements that impart a personal value of the speaker that may not be true in the strictest sense, but based on personal opinion/values. The statement in question is filled with Manyeruke’s values — this can lead to contamination of all her research.
She ought to make explicit her own values and incorporate other contrary values because good research comes from a conflict of values.
Now, if you condescendingly dismiss other people’s values, you don’t belong in academia. This cannot be beneficial to impressionable first-year undergraduates. We have more credibility if our views aren’t hopelessly biased by our personal or political motivations.
To quote blogger Coach T: “By making our values speak and compete with each other, we have ample opportunities to reflect on what our research is missing, or how it might be mistaken. There is also a chance that our values may change or grow by incorporating insights from other values . . . [but] this isn’t going to work for your local doctrinaire . . .”
A doctrinaire puts common sense aside and says what his party, church (Johanne Masowe weChishanu Vapostori?) or whatever affiliation says. Such ideologues close their ears and eyes to any evidence that may contradict this.
Vimbai Chivaura, Tafataona Mahoso and Sheunesu Mupepereki are the first persons who come to mind as examples of that.
Has Manyeruke joined them?
Let’s hope Chihuri’s unfortunate fall — not fall from grace – will bring a sense of proportion, reasonableness, magnanimity and sanity into our politics.
What goes around comes around.