By Nomazulu Thata
It is one of Professor Moyo’s terms to express anything disgusting him.
Umgodoyi is an overly thin malnourished dog whose mouth unendingly oozies slummy saliva, a sign of obvious illness related to malnutrition. It is nauseating to look at such a dog and hence it is chased away in disgust, nobody bears the sight of such a dog.
Foot sake, foot shake, but the dog that is asking for a slender meal, goes away without one, perpetuating its misery until death removes the pain and suffering of years.
When I read an article about me on the 4th of this month, this term Mgodoyi came into my mind. I thought again never to use the term because I realised that the response was not matching the article I had written.
The African traditions must be upheld at all cost; traditions are sacrosanct, was the underlying message. If, for argument’s sake, we must uphold our out of date, old medieval traditions and culture, would it not be better if we tabulate what is to be upheld and what is to be discarded so that we have clear guidelines of what we Africans want for the sake of future generations: the script will inform all of us what has become irrelevant, overtaken by the powers of evolution.
We start with dress code: we must return to wearing amabhetshu. (leather clothing of the past). Curiously, plants that were used to extract a special kind of a bark whose softer inner part was knitted together to make uncwadho, are now extinct due to global climate change. (uncwadho is traditional bag that kept male genitals together) Masidede kulemikhuba bafowethu, sihlukane nokuzenyeza, sivuke siziqhenye ngobuthina mahlabezulu!
Racist former Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith was giving an interview why settlers are oppressing the indigenous Africans: his response was: “not long ago, natives did not have decent clothing and they sell each other as slaves, is it not Willian Wilberforce, a British man who lobbied and advocated for the abolition of Atlantic slave trade; Britain, a superpower of high seas and oceans?” Without us whites, Africans will still be practicing slave trade.” Close quote. I am just highlighting those two incidences that are still vivid in my mind to give the reader a connection to my today’s article.
The past eight centuries African has not known any peace in the continent. It was marred by slavery of all kinds: violence becoming a culture in many societies continentally. Africans have a long history of enslaving each other and slavery was a long domestic institution that was later adapted to global markets in Europe, and later America. There were slaves of all kinds in African societies and slavery was accepted as a norm. Guns exchanged hands as the means to capture sizeable number of slaves for the market. Tribal wars were not fought to kill but to capture as many living as they possibly could. Monarchs in the continent bought slaves that lived in the vicinities ready for sale: in case traders arrives, they had something ready to make transections with.
Lungisani Ndlovu is not indirectly lobbying for the reestablishment of African societal ills (including violence) that marred the continent for centuries, according to Achilles Mbembe: “a space of catastrophe, convulsion, disaster already happened or about to happen – of breakdown instant terror.” Close quote. Africa is inhabited by the same human race just like all other continents. Fortunately, culture is dynamic; so many societal changes have taken place including Zimbabwe. To paint Africa with a unique positive history without its dark side, an Africa better than Europe, in contrast a European continent with societal ills parallel with Sodom Gomorrah is a figment of his imagination. All continents have their painful past that have evolved with time to be what they are today, the African continent included. Racism is when a person thinks his own culture or anything else is better than the other. Ndlovu’s wish to preserve selected African culture and tradition will take us back to those dark days where territories were not habitable because of tribal wars and slave trade that punctuated Africa and Africans.
Traditions and culture of Africans is emphasized when the man-woman issues is discussed, never other essential evolutionary cultural values that have been taken over by evolutionary changes. Europeans do not possess evolution: evolution is a variable that takes place at its own time and space. All Africans dress like Europeans today, some of them drive Mercedes Benz cars made in Germany: nobody questions Africans why a means of transport foreign to our culture and traditions. A Mercedes Benz was not invented in Africa, but it is an accepted artifact. Why accept one artifact: Mercedes Benz car and reject gender equalities?
I am saying advocating for gender issues is not imposing a western culture. A Zimbabwean activist Godess Bvukutwa argues that gender inequality is not merely a problem of the west. She says gender inequality apologists (including women) think that gender it is a word that is borrowed, imported, copied, and pasted into African settings. “I have decided to write back insisting the very opposite that gender equality has to work especially in African settings” close quote.
The activist is a young woman who lives in Zimbabwe and her passion is to assist other young women of her age to fight patriarchy in our societies. Dear reader, is that not encouraging; the whole purpose of my activism is to pass on the baton to the coming younger generations, the fight for women’s rights in African Sub-Sahara will not be a walk in the rose garden. If it took 120 years for women in Europe and North America to fight and free themselves from men-domination, it will take African women double amount of time because our fight is made difficult by some African women who are fighting on the side of men.
The response to the article I wrote previously was emphasizing the power of globalization and the evolution processes that have nothing to do with Eurocentric manipulation and indoctrination. I agree to a certain degree that Africans have lost most of our culture and traditions, we can put blame on colonialism yes, but colonialising African was the easiest exercise for globalists/ imperialists in the western countries back then. Slave trade saw millions of Africans leaving the continent for America was the result of greed by African chiefs and proto states.
What was slavery in exchange of? It was cloth and Scotch Whisky. Whereas the Europeans used slaves to build America, on the other hand, we have nothing to show: the transactions we made with Europeans, selling our own was just for bottles of Scotch Whisky. Curiously, we are not even ashamed of blackmail, cruelty, deceit, criminality we meted on our own millions of African brothers and sisters some of them perished in the Atlantic Ocean in their millions.
Now let us look at the current situation today. How many millions of Africans are crossing the Sahara to get to the shores of Europe? How many perished in the hazardous dangers of the Sahara Desert all in the hope of buying a passage on a smuggler boat destined for Europe: Thousands. How many Africans have been captured by desert criminal gangs and are sold as slaves in North African marketplaces? Thousands. The rope of desperation has replaced iron chains wrote Aaryn Baker in Times magazine. What are we running away from our own countries to have to face hazardous journeys in the Sahara Desert in North of Africa?
Are these not the painful discourses we should be engaging ourselves in and finding solutions to African problems and not tell the African woman to respect medieval and ancient traditions and cultures that suppress and compress her: cultures favourable to the man; oppressive to the woman and hence the woman wants to free herself from patriarchy at all cost. (Ohne wenn und aber!) No ifs and buts!
All these examples I am highlighting, I am trying my best to send the message across to my African/Zimbabwean brothers that we are in the second Millennium. I write about gender issues; Lungisani-Ndlovu responds by referencing literature such as the holy bible, citing medieval personalities such as Adam and Eva who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. This is not a serious gender discourse. It displays the simplistic and common mind of some black Zimbabwean men who have let us down in our social and political development. Lungisani Ndlovu says: “This kind of behaviour is an attack on Africa and blackness in general. OH! we women depended on the African man far too long, its high time we took the development of Africa into our hands: we are doing it anywhere; the drivers of African economy is done by women who keep African economies afloat. Even the World Bank values, respects, and appreciates the power of the ordinary African woman.
How many things have gone wrong in Africa/Zimbabwe because we women let our men take the lead politically, socially, and otherwise? Societies in western countries are developing exponentially: economically, socially, technically the list is long: a Zimbabwe man still wants to dwell in the past: the past that tells him he is the boss in the home. We women should still bow down to our husbands and worship them to maintain our medieval “beautiful” cultures and religious beliefs.
The past two decades, about 5 million Zimbabweans left the country to the Diaspora. About two million of them live in European towns and cities. Half the number of Zimbabweans who left are men. These are men telling us that European culture is bad: would it not have been better and understandable if these men remained in Zimbabwe and never be domiciled in “abhorrent” European foreign cultures they detest consciously and subconsciously?
I have been to several feminist conferences in Europe. Of late I have participated in one that inspired me most. The moderator was giving 150 years’ timeline on how women in different western countries fought for their freedom, independence, and emancipation from patriarchy and men-domination. The fight was worth it, they won it. Gender parity is the buzzword: but are still fighting because they think they have not reached the desired gender equality they want.
Again, in that 150 years’ timeline, thousands of women in Europe lost their lives: were murdered fighting for their rights and the rights of future generations. We remember the 25th of November as the month whereby three women from the Dominican Republic: Mirabal Sisters Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, were murdered by the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo fighting for the rights of women. The UN and the world at large yearly honours the three Mirabal sisters on 25th of November as CEDAW month: CEDAW means; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: a convention that was unanimously adopted by the member states of United Nations General Assembly.
Our European female counterparts will win this war on patriarchy and men- domination for many reasons: one of them being that white men or European men have joined the fight against patriarchy. Gender exploitation is losing ground in all European societies even in the eastern European countries.
Back in Africa: The late former President Julius Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania said: The first-world nations are developing rapidly, exponentially; they are going to the moon and back, are even contemplating going to mars. On the other hand, African nations are still learning how to cross a busy road without being run down by a car. I do not know how old Lungisani Ndlovu is: a young man who still dreams of the glorious African past that was not there, that former President Nyerere never experienced!!!
I want to end my contribution today by telling Lungisani Ndlovu that globalisation has no colour skin, it is nonracist, has no tribe, has no capital city where it is headquartered. The developments in all aspects of global human advancement is not the invention of white Europeans only. Alchemy and numbers are intellectual properties of Arab countries. Through globalisation, other cultures benefited and perfected the technology in various forms of advancement. In the same vein, gender issues and gender equalities are not exclusively a western culture and discourses but unavoidable global political challenges.
Writing an article critiquing me will not scare me. The heading was meant to attract already existing resentment and indignation from my male critiques who loath my feminist approach to gender issues Zimbabwe. Neither am I disgusted by the contents of Lungisani’s article and start cursing him foot sake, voetzeck, Mgodoyi. Lungisani Ndlovu symbolizes a young Zimbabwean man that needs enlightenment so that he is kept abreast about exciting global developments he is not aware of. I am inviting him to be part of that change we all want to see in future Zimbabwe. We want a Zimbabwe where women and men are equal before the laws and in all aspects of our development. Only then can we participate in painful global challenges the mankind is facing today including climate change.