Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black-Libyans, Syrian-Christians & Afro-Cubans

There is an important aspect of authoritarian regimes that's often left unstated, and that is that they often do a good job of keeping racial/religious/linguistic tensions under wraps. In my own personal experience, I've found Libyans to be the most vulgar racists amongst all Arabs, and yet under Col. Gaddafi's regime, this primitive racism was kept under wraps. Now, with the probable demise of the Gaddafi regime, we're seeing Blacks (native Black-Libyans, as well as Sub-Saharan Africans) being massacred on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi.

In the same vein, The Christians of Syria enjoy a level of peace and security that would be impossible in any other Arab/Islamic State (with the exception of Lebanon). They must be praying for the continued survival of the Assad regime, however sinister it may be. Regime-change in Syria would probably lead to the mass-migration of Syria's Christians and the demise of that country's ancient, Christian community.

Finally, I bring you to Cuba, which probaby has the best race-relations in all of Latin-America & where Afro-Cubans enjoy the kind of socio-economic progress that has been denied to Afro-Brazilians, for example. What would happen to race-relations in Cuba if Cuban Communism was to be replaced by full-blooded American Capitalism? Cuba's whites (and almost-whites) would probably pitch their tent with the other whites of North America, blatant racism would return with a bang, and all of Cuba's gains in public-health and education would be thrown out the window.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Arab Joke

OK, we have too many problems on this planet, and so it's time for some gallows humour (Jews are the best at this macabre genre). We've got hurricanes and Arab revolutions and Lord-knows-what's-next, so a joke is needed to lighten our load. This is a joke I was told by a Somali friend, way back in College. There are many versions of this joke & you might have heard it already, but it does deserve a re-telling. Here it is:
Anwar Sadat , Hafez Assad & Muammar Gadhafi are sitting in an underground bunker drinking coffee. Anwar Sadat states that he's just won 90% of the vote in the Egyptian elections. "90%!" blurts out Col. Gadhafi. "What an idiot you are!". He then goes on to add, "Look at our dear brother Hafez over here. He recently won 99.99% of the vote in the Syrian elections. Now here's a smart ruler!" Immediately, Hafez Assad springs to his feet, shaking, in a blind rage. "99.99% of the vote? This is untenable!", he exclaims (waving his finger in the air to punctuate his remarks). He then beckons the head of the Syrian Secret Police, and grunts, "Find me the lone bastard who didn't vote for me!"
P.S. Anwar Sadat was Egypt's President from 1970-1981 (replaced by Mohamed Hosni Mubarak).
Hafez Assad served as Syria's President from 1971-2000 (replaced, or relieved, by his son Bashar Assad).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

R.I.P Rex Nhongo

Late last night I learnt with shock and horror of the untimely death of Gen Solomon Mujuru. He was the 1st commander of Zimbabwe's integrated Armed Forces after independence in 1980, and helped integrate the then separate Rhodesian, Zanla and Zapu elements into a unified force. I was a young lad in England in 1979, when I first saw  "Rex Nhongo" (as he was then named) on British TV. It was the Christmas holidays and all of us, family and friends, were crowded around the TV to watch the triumphant return of the first batch of Zanla and Zipra commanders to return home. I was expecting to see the tall and bearded Josiah Tongogara, but alas, he was never to make it. In his place strolled the smiling Rex Nhongo at the head of the Zanla contingent.

I would later have the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions in the late 80s and mid 90s. He was very humble, didn't talk much, and when he did talk, he talked with a pronounced lisp. He was not the stereotypical soldier that immediately comes to mind. He was also a good drinker and loved his scotch. He hailed from Chikomba (my home district) and after retiring from the army, served as our Member of Parliament from 1994  to 2000.

True, he had his faults, but in the main, he was good man. Sabre-rattling was never his thing; he always respected the civilian politicians in power, and he knew his limits. With only a limited education, he had graduated from the school of hard-knocks and the university of life, rather than from any academic institutions. He was a true Zimbabwean hero, and a gallant freedom-fighter. May his soul forever rest in peace. Gamba redu: mufambe zvakanaka.