The oldest joke in Zimbabwe, but who’s really laughing?

Tribalism, if you’ve lived inZimbabweis the currency of choice. You’ve heard

What's the inevitable end of tribal hatred?

the jokes, the name calling; the Shona are hyenas and the Ndebele misguided loose canons and so forth. The tribal battle lines were drawn the day amaNdebele moved North of theLimpopoand settled with their Shona brothers. Time has cemented the hatred between these two groups. The question of genocide came up on another platform recently and I began to wonder; the Gukurahundi was an attempt by the Shona to wipe out the Ndebele people, of which no apology has been forthcoming, isZimbabweheaded for a tribal war? What is the climax of this hatred?

 

There’s a constant comparison within the country’s borders of what is given to whom and to what tribe they belong. We’ve heard the stories of entry into Universities, approval of loans and such being given on the basis of surnames. If you posess a Ndebele surname like Khumalo, you’re likely to get rejected but if you posess a Shona surname you’ve got the winning hand. This climate has gone on so long that the jokes have gone rancid, they don’t cover the inequalities, and they are not funny anymore. The skies are heavy with clouds that promise thunder storms, the hungry are tired of watching their counterparts throwing fat into the fire, they want to eat.

 

What about the children? One writer spoke about the mixed seed ofZimbabwe; children born of parents from both tribes. What happens to them when the bomb explodes? Are they Shona? Are they Ndebele? Do we hand down the hatred handed down to us? Can we quell the hatred? Or has it taken on a life of its own. Is a tribal war the inevitable climax of this decades old joke; that the Shona and the Ndebele hate each other?

 

How do you get a nation of lifelong enemies to put aside their scruples, shake hands and co exist peacefully? The jokes keep on being told, but who’s really laughing?

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