By Mbinji Mufalo
“Sometimes I think the world is divided into those who have a comfortable relationship with power and those who have a naturally adversarial relationship with power.” – Arundhati Roy
SATURDAY, March 12, 2016, set my grandmother on an unfortunate pinnacle of joy. “If I was there, I would have spat on them. Huh! We are in power and they can not embarrass us like that.” Would not really imagine her thick foul tobacco sputum landing on anybody. But that is my lovely grandmother. Always, willing to die for her belief in a friend in leadership. In her unfettered support, which is simply a façade of an uninformed error, that her friend is in power always makes her believe she is in power too.
In truth, in the January 2015 elections, my grandmother crossed out the person she disliked the most. She claims that is what she was taught during some so-called voter education community workshop. We have never believed my grandmother as she has, as a minimum a Form 5 certificate, and before retirement she was a head teacher of English. Could be she is just used to crossing out wrong spellings in English!
I have never really understood how she is in power. All I know is she spends her days, sweating in the heat of the noon day sun. The steaming vapour from her seven-days cooking drums covering her, like the morning mist in the valley. Those that imbibe in her product often extol her brewing skills, but they never ask themselves why they always have to immediately run to relieve themselves in the bush. Her calabashes are putrid, as she never bothers to clean them, before she fills them up.
Perhaps, that is what power does. Putrefying the others, for gain at all costs!
Any way, at the end of the day, she sits lonely on her three legged stool counting the little coins she has made. And, in the solitude of her Tshaka Zulu – like dwelling, a tear falls as she realises that she seldom makes enough to met her livelihood needs. In the rainy season, her sleep is always disturbed, not because she is dreaming of the happy days of her youth on the Copperbelt. No. It is simply because she has to find a position that is not directly below the rain falling through the old thatch roof.
When morning comes, to the phone she takes. And we, the grandchildren, have a disturbed day. The demands and requests for assistance, are uttered faster than Usain Bolt runs.
Yesterday, I had enough. I simply told her that she is in power! So she surely should be the one ensuring that we do not have constrained livelihoods. She should allow us to parade in the regalia expressing our political choice and not delighting in wanting to bath us in thick foul tobacco sputum.
Well, that got to her. In her attempt to soothe my anger, she went into a delirious single-person-audience oratory of how her friend will soon be organising a conference to reaffirm his abhorrence of political party violence. She, further, said that he has also demanded that opposition party leaders emulate him in controlling violence. Adolf Hitler would have been proud. Sic.
I listened to her unthinking wisdom, the wisdom of putrefied power, with ears requesting me to shut her up. I could not do that, however.
The public know, sincerely hope they do, that they cannot emulate a State president when it comes to matters of law and order.
In hindsight, was her friend talking as a State president or a party president? If the latter, it is understood and welcome. However, I am not going to start a sermon on the mountain over it.
If the former, it is unfortunate. He is a State president, and there is nothing to emulate. He should simply have categorically stated that the State of Zambia will not tolerate political violence and chastise those that stripped Priscilla Mwiinga naked, the police officers that did nothing about it, and the head of the police. Period.
What happened to the State shall protect its citizens and all those presently resident within its borders? Inarguably, if the State cannot do so, then this brings into question the State’s allegiance to protecting its citizens and all those presently resident within its borders through just maintenance of law and order.
The bottom line is. A State president or any third party, conceiving an idea of a conference to iron out political party violence is simply a deliberate invalid argument displaying assumed political ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving the public. So too, is a State hollering out to the multitude to emulate it.
A democratic State exists as a body of humans with defined means of equitable social and political regulation, and the State affirms adherence to the norms actualising these means. It cannot request others to emulate it in maintaining law and order with respect to violence arising from political competition, when it is evidently shows favouritism. That is a recipe for State decay.
Clean the calabash, remove the maggots first, then I will not run into the bush after imbibing your rhetoric.
I could not tell my grandmother all this. I love Nana dearly. She typifies the many of us that exist in limbus factuorum. Those that are in putrefied power. Moreover, I dread the thought of that sputum or her friend falling on me like a ton of bricks.
O temporal! O more! What times! What manners!