Tonight as I sat down to eat dinner, I was surprised to see old Bob Mugabe and his family having their own dinner with none other than the velvet cushion man – Dali Tambo. My appetite was quickly ruined.
In the Sunday Times, Dali Tambo reveals that his mandate for the show People of the South is to “take the person out of the caricature, to make them real.” The question been bandied around in the press is about whether Tambo’s style should have been more interrogative rather than jovial. My question would be this: Should we be humanising a tyrant who has refused to vacate the Zimbabwean throne for the past 26 years?
My simple answer is no.
History teaches us to understand that humans are never one dimensional and even the oldest president in Africa has silly spats with his wife from time to time. Sure, one can celebrate the power of the media in allowing us a glimpse into the lives of people not always accessible to us, or even offering up a different perspective. But frankly, watching the Mugabes dance a little jig as the show’s credits went up, was enough to make me want to hurl.
I’m just a girl eating my veg curry on a Sunday night in front of the telly. But what if I was a person of the south affected first hand by the behaviour of Mugabe –by being silenced, having family killed, subjected to poverty or having my basic rights been abused? I hardly think that such a person would be interested in the human characteristics of this brute.
If we are really people of the south, surely we should spend our efforts ridding our continent of the used oil that clogs the pipes of democracy instead of cooking up a nice dinner with it? Ironically, this week the SADC (Southern African Development Community) had to cancel a summit to discuss Zimbabwean national elections because Robert Mugabe announced that he was not ready to meet. Hmmm, perhaps he was too busy resting on his newly acquired velvet cushion and being fed almonds bought at Harrods by Grace.
While people of interest deserve their time in the garden with Dali, I still don’t think dictators should crack the nod. Because the only way for Mugabe to reveal his human side is to release his chokehold on the Zimbabwean nation and to tap out from all things grotesque, undemocratic and unbecoming of a twenty-first century Africa.