By Bhekumusa Moyo
You will know that they have given you a middle finger when they conduct their rallies in the center of your poorest business district. The distance to the venue will tire even your strongest donkey. The chefs will arrive at four past afternoon for a rally scheduled for ten o’clock in the morning. By the time they arrive hunger and tiredness from dancing revolutionary songs would have reminded you that what you are here for is just to endorse another five years of the same lifestyle you are enduring.
The chefs will descend from the long convoy of 4X4 wheel drives sipping mineral water from the cleanest source and the sight of the precious liquid throws your mind back to your village where you scavenge for the salty borehole water which has a taste of rust.
They will be having shiny stomachs as my mother would say, from consuming the best produce of the imperialists who evade and avoid tax, maybe Nandos or Chicken inn….. maybe something of that class.
To you they will bring a promise, a promise of an airport in your village when taking a bus is an adventure. Yes, the only vehicle that can deal with that road is that bended bus which looks like it’s coming when its actually going. They will promise spaghetti roads and bullet trains when they have been in parliament for more than fifteen years but have never moved a motion in parliament for the construction of the same, perhaps they need a title called President to implement that.
These are the leaders we have. They speak well polished English because they never bothered even to learn their mother tongue. Anyways, what the crass do they care about, you are a mere villager whom they can’t even hug because you smell so much villagery. They even use hand sanitizers after giving you a handshake reminiscing how disgusting it is to use the bush as a toilet without tissue.
Yes, the esteemed tissue, they know you use tree leaves or wood to wipe it. They don’t care as long as it keeps your fingerprints in check for election day. To them that’s what matters. That red finger, yes, which usually takes you weeks to clean as bathing is not your game. It is not that you don’t like bathing, NO, you have a lot to do to make your family survive. Or, the red finger is a survival license as you heard that the other year they were chopping hands of those who did not vote.
You know, the middle finger is just their signature greeting, they show it to you immediately when you dance profusely to the deafening sound of the song praising them as the gods of the generation. When they see you sweat, to them its sweet. When you tire, they know you have a story for the whole week in the village about who was not dancing more and that share of a kilogram of rice will not see their pots.
As you know, all these years you have been having a great harvest then suddenly there is drought. Each year when elections are announced its like there is conspiracy between heaven and these devils in our land. My teacher in Sunday school once told us a story from the black book that God once met satan and asked him where he was going. He then told God he was moving up and down the earth looking for someone to deceive and a deal was made to play Job.
They played him like F**k until he had nothing. The story says he got everything back but I never heard about the resurrection of his family members and how long it took. The story just shows that there is conspiracy up there but anyway, our elections are the biggest conspiracy ever.
The rain patterns change, the sun comes closer to earth like its is the chief election observer and suddenly it’s the ruling party with extra food to share with the citizens. All those that have come before have done this, its not new, you know it well yourself but each year you always fall prey, finding yourself voting for the same enemy of years.
Have you seen how they bring your pastors to these rallies? And some of them are now called Pastors too! The pastor starts to liken bible characters to these imbeciles and you find yourself shouting …amen!!! This is the game and these are our leaders.
They know what you want to hear but they don’t want to hear what you know. Imagine when you have to narrate how on Sundays you spend all day without going to the toilet because the in-laws will be there. You cannot even use it no matter how much nature calls because it shows your knees when you are feeding the insects inhabiting it. Will they understand? They don’t squat anymore, they seat and relax and perhaps get the latest newspaper and read as they relieve themselves.
They do not want to hear about the distance you travel to get rusty water for cooking, let alone that the road you use is not a road. They don’t want to hear that your children travel over fifteen kilometers to the nearest school. They want you to believe that you are the best and well educated because you know where to place your vote. They make you believe you are cool because you always remember the face of the perfect leader when you get into that booth of doom. That booth which they remind you can not defeat the bullet.
You have leaders who forget to remember their promises. Remember when they promised you millions of jobs as if you were Legion? You damn wanted just one job to survive. These leaders remember to forget their manifestos, all the lies they bring, they remember well how to forget them as they will bring them again on another year.
Its amazing how, as you stand under the scotching sun, feet burning as you feel the earth breathe into your cracked feet, you manage to clap so loud with bruised hands from yesterdays labor of cutting firewood to cook food which was bought from the money collected from you by force.
You salivate at the food as you stand at the end of the queue as the “leaders’’ get the best service from the women of the village who forget to care for their sick and broken men. This is the middle finger….now it bends a bit towards your ass.
My brother used to remind us that people get the leadership they deserve, I always wondered how. I just got to understand that if a president can be on an airplane eighteen times in five months, it means we have a mad leader who cant stay in his home.
Its only those who fear witches who cant have good sleep in their own homes. If he really loves the country, what is wrong with staying home a bit. He must at least see the queues in banks, move to villages and see the poverty and maybe come talk to you about how to make the best of the land you took from the white man.
There are also these young ones who joined the Leaders’ race yesterday. God forbid, they already have convoys and young militias which salutes them the same way the Junta salutes the old Leaders.
Power is sweet, everyone admires their oppressor in secret as Freire said. Perhaps let me read again the Pedagogy of the Oppressed and seek a cure to the Stockholm syndrome. A syndrome that started as a raised middle finger and now the finger is poking our souls.
Bhekumusa Moyo is reachable on [email protected] . He writes on his personal capacity from the village.