Hands off Uncle Bob!

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This week social media was abuzz with memes of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe’s “infamous” fall. I still don’t understand what’s funny about someone falling. Come on, people trip or fall all the time, don’t they?

In African culture, you don’t laugh at elders. It’s basic human courtesy. When someone falls, you help him or her up quickly or soothe him or her. But in social media culture, you create memes comparing a 90-year-old man’s fall to Beyonce’s energetic dance moves, and have a field day laughing.

One would be surprised to learn that the news reports and memes, weren’t done by bored teenagers, but adults who I suspect are right wing extremists.

I was more irritated that even respectable news networks ran with the story and made it seem like the funniest thing ever.

One even called Mugabe, Mugarbage. It’s unfortunate that some Africans are buying into the Western agenda to trash African leaders. I guess some of you don’t realise that some white people always find something to ridicule and undermine about Africans? We teach people how to treat us. We shouldn’t teach people to disrespect us.

To the West and a few other folk, Mugabe is an enemy, but to many others he remains an epitome of the black struggle. He is one of the few brave Africans who revolted against a system that wanted total imperialism, and to control our resources and us. The West doesn’t hate Mugabe because he mistreats his people, but because he is against western imperialism – he refused to be a puppet of the West.

 It’s a typical racist-fuelled white characteristic: they like you when they can pull you by the nose!

Some whites don’t have respect: they can directly insult their leaders, and see nothing with that. I recall sometime in 2013, when Jacob Zuma fell ill, many wondered if he was fit enough to hold office. Zuma, who is reportedly diabetic, was in bad shape. Some time later, I was listening to Talk Radio 702’s Redi Direko show and she raised the issue. Different people called in and commented. Some white man called in and said, “Redi, Zuma is sick. He has AIDS. Trust me, I know HIV/AIDS when I see it.” Uhu! I was shocked.

We all have our own reservations. There are people I look at and think, this one is sick, but it’s not my place to say it out loud. Unless you are a doctor who has done examinations and diagnosed someone, I don’t think you should go around claiming that someone is “sick” or have AIDS. First of all, that is defamatory and malicious. Secondly, it shows a lack of empathy and respect for other people. For all we know, that man might have an undiscovered strain of HIV, but he could confidently pick up a phone and claim another man has AIDS.

Some people have problems with Zuma’s many children and wives, but that’s his culture. There’s nothing wrong with polygamy. Human beings are polygamous by nature. The HIV/AIDS issue is neither here nor there. Anyone can get HIV/AIDS whether they are married, single, purple, pink or whatever. I would understand if the point of concern was the cost of taking care of Zuma’s children and wives.

But then again, only a white person can say that. Akere they are the same ones who wrote newspaper headlines like, ‘Is the Botswana president gay.’ I mean, you can speculate about that over a cold beer with your friends, not to openly say that. The president’s bachelorhood has never been a handicap in his leadership. If anything, it has worked to his advantage as he can commit more time to issues that affect the country. There are many men and women out there who are not married, should we speculate that they gays and lesbians?

Sometimes when I observe the way western media reflects us and African leaders, I understand why Julius Malema lost his temper and charged at the white reporter: ‘Rubbish is that thing in your pants!’  He was gatvol with all this maliciousness and vilifying. It gets too much!

Sometimes we want to criticize or be funny but get carried away. I’m not feigning perfection: I have probably erred several times in many regards as a writer.

But as much as I respect everyone’s right, particularly comedians, cartoonists, writers and journalists’ right to express their views, we should know when not to cross the line and when we are being ridiculous.

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