Fear of political persecution limiting our jokes: Joshua Ncube

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POPULAR stand-up comedian Carl Joshua Ncube has lamented the country’s tense political and social climate which he says has limited the source of jokes among local comedians.
Ncube told in an exclusive interview local comics have to dig deeper into their creativity if they want to survive in the industry.
He said the country’s polarised political environment has made it almost taboo to crack jokes about the country’s rulers.
“I am sure you know that we come from a very unique position being in Zimbabwe. There are certain things that we can’t talk about and joke about,” he said.
“South African comedians are enjoying making jokes about Zimbabwean politicians and making lots of money.”
The now Kadoma-based entertainer said he has since abandoned jokes about popular prophets in Zimbabwe after receiving death threats from their ardent followers.
“I get more death threats from Christians. I suppose people are not happy of certain jokes about prophets. There is quite a lot of flak that I get from people,” said Ncube, who vows he will no longer be tempted to make comics about prophets “even if they walk on air”.
He added: “I have tried to confine jokes about politicians when they will be in the same room with me.
“Alternatively, if we make fun of what would have happened to the President, say, in the case of him reading the wrong speech, comedians would choose to make comics about the department that administers his speech writing.”
The Bulawayo born comic said he envied South African comedians who are making a killing through their renditions about popular local politicians without any consequences.
“If you think about it, it’s like we are exporting freedom of speech,” he said.
“If the government actually saw how much money is being made just talking about Robert Mugabe, they would then say Carl also make jokes so that the country can make money.”
There is no specific law in Zimbabwe that forbids making any jokes about prophets and politicians although few Zimbabweans have invited trouble for “undermining the authority of the President” after making jokes about President Mugabe.
Even more shocking are revelations that local comics first have to reveal their jokes to certain politicians and be cleared to proceed making them in public.Advertisement

The ethnic domain has also been a minefield for local comedians as different tribes have taken offence over certain jokes.
“Again it has to do with the way that we do it,” said Ncube.
“For example, I would not go to Bulawayo and make fun of Ndebeles, I would make fun of Shonas in Bulawayo and then come to Harare and make fun of Ndebeles and if they are mixed, I will make fun of whites first, come to Ndebeles and joke about Shonas last.”