20 July 2016

Zimbabwe: The Day I Got Over My Crush - Not So Lady Squanda

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When that husky voice sings "I wanna kiss you," in response to Qounfused's witty vocals on their duet, the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. When I first heard "huya tisangane kuchibhorani", by Sandra "Lady Squanda"Gazi, I almost felt like spraying my best cologne and rushing off to the borehole, thinking that her coquettishly sung invitation was sung for me and me alone. I made her trademark chant my own - "zvaakuMaker sense!" (it makes sense now).

Crushed by former crush

But last Sunday, I got over my crush when I saw Squanda (notice I don't call her Lady) humiliating comedian, Tatenda "Skimbo" Matika, who she accused of making an unflattering skit about her. In the video, Squanda and her accomplices are seen repeatedly striking Skimbo before the self styled queen of Zimdancehall makes him kiss her bare foot.

Squanda's empty apology

On Monday morning, Squanda released an incoherent apology, in which she promises that in future she will "avoid such situations."It is not entirely clear whether she means that she will avoid being violent or avoid filming her violent episodes. I have often been accused of being naive, having too much faith in humanity. When I first saw the Squanda video, my immediate reaction was "maybe this is a skit. They must be acting, in order to boost Squanda's street cred." But no, it is not a joke. And this time, I am not as naive as to think her apology is sincere. Throughout the garbled apology, which reads like it was composed by one under the influence of banned substances, Squanda does not even once mention the name of her victim. Her only worry, it seems, was the angry fans, without whom she has no pay cheque.

A track record of violence

Prior to the assault on Skimbo, Squanda and her co-conspirators released a video clip in which they brazenly announce to the world that they are off to find Skimbo. So the attack was well thought out. I can understand an apology if Squanda had lashed out on impulse, perhaps kicking a fan while she performs on stage. But Squanda and her accomplice probably went to the bank and withdrew enough cash to refuel their car, they drove to the location where they knew to find him, they somehow convinced him to get into the backseat of the car where he was assaulted. Squanda removed her shoe, giving the entire world more than a glimpse of a foot that resembles a sea-diver's flipper, before inviting Skimbo to kiss it. In courtroom language, her actions were premeditated. Rather than a forgivable mistake, Squanda's actions point to deep-seated problems in her psyche, which cannot be erased with a boozily written apology.

If, like me, you have belief in humanity and want to give her the benefit of the doubt, you need reminding that this was not the first time Squanda's name appeared next to the word "violent." Ask her fellow female dancehall artist, Ninja Lipsy, who she assaulted over a text message that was allegedly sent by Lipsy to Squanda's lover. Following the assault, Squanda even threatened to continue pummeling Lipsy in future.

"Ndicharamba ndichingomubika chete kana ndikamuona, kwasara ka shamwari kake kamwe kanonzi Maburugwa. Handina basa nazvo kuti aita police report, ndinongosungwa handisirini ndatanga kusungwa ka, asi ndichingo buda chete ndomudzokorora futi, kusvika hasha dzangu dzapera" (I will keep beating her up. I also have a score to settle with her friend Faith 'Maburugwa' Mutangadaro. I don't care whether or not she presses charges. I am not the first person to get arrested. And when I am released from jail I will beat her up again, until I am satisfied!)

Monkey see, monkey do

But where does this all come from? Squanda's behaviour is indicative of a society where the politicians loot public funds and the country's resources with impunity. The first lady (who is only referred to as "lady" out of convention) threatened that blood would be shed if anybody tried to take her farm away. She publicly threatened to beat up former Zanu (PF) Mashonaland East Chairman, Ray Kaukonde, who subsequently fled the country, fearing for his safety. She uses the police force as her personal henchmen who carry out evictions of farmers whose presence she deems a threat to the comfort of her pet giraffes on the ever-expanding estate in Mazowe. Her husband, the president, speaks of his fist as though it is the hammer of Thaw. In one of his most infamous outbursts, Mugabe said "we have degrees in violence."

Our police chiefs are fond of giving warnings that should only be heard from playground bullies. "We will deal with anyone, we warn, we will not tolerate, we will ban... ."

The ZRP have repeatedly showed that their threats of "dealing with" dissent should be taken seriously. And just like Squanda, they brazenly film themselves while assaulting defenseless civilians.

Opposition parties guilty of violence

Even politicians from the opposition party whose name suggests democracy and evolution of the mind are themselves Neanderthals. Legislator, Priscilla Misihairambwi beat up her sister in law at a funeral, no less. Elton Mangoma was assaulted by Tsvangirai's supporters and Tendai Biti escaped a beating by a whisker, after the two former MDC-T lieutenants challenged the authority of the beloved Morgan.

What is the cause?

Following the chaotic land invasions of that occurred circa 2000, it has become common for civilian motorists to fly through red traffic lights. Men stop outside supermarkets and whip out their gentleman parts and urinate under the blushing gaze of little girls and grandmothers alike. I recall in the mid 90s when police on horseback chased and arrested people for drinking beer in public. Fast forward 16 years after the mayhem on the farms, we now live in a land of Do As You Please. This outbreak of unruliness did not just appear overnight like mushrooms under a tree.

I am appalled by Squanda's actions, but given the country's recent history, I am not surprised. In Squanda's own words, zvaakuMaker sense.

My pen is capped

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