Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

They can beat you up

By Bill Saidi

Being a journalist, particularly in Africa, can be hell on earth. It’s even worse when you are a columnist, which I have been since the 1960s. I wrote a column, Bits and Pieces From Harare, for The African Parade, before it became just Parade.

Bill Saidi
Bill Saidi

I became editor of the magazine for a few months. I was dogged by bad luck.

I didn’t last long: My “disaster” story was an attempt to do a close-up story of a former Johannesburg beauty queen who had gone down in the dumps and was now making money as a call girl in Highfield, when it really sizzled.

I ended up at the new Harare Central Hospital after a guard at the house pursued me, aiming, with uncanny accuracy, a brick at my head.

I was knocked down to the ground and ended up in the hospital with a big bash behind my head.

Most of the hospital staff said I was lucky to be alive. Some of them thought I deserved the punishment — what was I doing being stoned by thugs when I should be in school?

I was young at the time, in my 20s and filled with adventure. I have worked in journalism all my life.

I’ll be 79 soon and have wounds to prove it. Some people thought my trouble was the booze, but I gave it up later.

I decided to give up and give the politicians a hard time, which I enjoyed tremendously.

Most of them were up to no good and I enjoyed showing them up.

All this does not just suggest that I dislike politicians.

But the truth for me is that they are a big pain in the backside. Most of them lie, even if it is not necessary.

Most of us in journalism swear the world is such a mess because the politicians just lie and lie and lie.

In my case, some of them took revenge on me, whenever they could, and wherever I worked, mostly in Southern and Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland, in which I worked most of my life.

One of them beat me up in a bar in Lusaka, to which I had moved.

Others have taken revenge on me by having me fired from my job. I was fired by a president, but he reinstated me a year later.

Still, he later decided to kick me out of his country over some other boob. Most people do not like journalists because we are mostly worried about what the politicians get up to.

Many of them are just wolves in sheep’s clothing.

My closest encounter with one of them was in 1972 during a presidential election which gave birth to the Watergate scandal.

It toppled a president, Richard Nixon, a man I had met before he became president in 1972.

I had never held anything particularly against him, but when he refused to be interviewed by me at Lusaka airport in 1963, I sort of held a “thing” against him.

You can imagine my pleasure when he was kicked out in 1974.

There are also a number of African presidents whose careers ended just as spectacularly as Nixon’s.

It’s not that I particularly enjoy it when another terrible president “bites the dust”.

But all Africans must always be conscious of the looseness with which African leaders handle our affairs, particularly where money is concerned.

If we always believe some of the lies our leaders tell us, there should be no wonder why we are still the dark continent. Daily News