Kalanga is one of the officially recognised languages embedded as an obligation in Section 6 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution.
To someone with normal, functional faculties, this would mean those of our citizens who speak this language – like any other human beings – have as much right to life, respect and dignity as anyone else in our country.
In fact, language is not just a means of communication. It is an identity, the ultimate symbol of humanity and pride. Anyone who denigrates another person based on language, tribe, ethnicity, income status, social class or religion exhibits overt genocidal tendencies.
Let me state unequivocally that some of the most despicable acts of human indignity have been inspired by leaders afflicted by a genetic disorder traceable to tribal and ethnic hatred.
Between 1915 and 1918, almost two million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportations and massacres.
In 1985, Saddam Hussein is said to have used chemical weapons to try to decimate the Kurdish people in Iraq.
Joseph Stalin is held responsible for the death of millions of Ukrainians in the Holodomo, while we know that Adolph Hitler exterminated nearly five million Jews – equivalent to half the population of Zimbabwe!
Similar cases of ethnic, tribal and language hatred can be said of Nuon Chea, Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge leader, communist Mengistu Haile Mariam’s red terror, General Yakub Gowon starving to death millions of Igbos in Biafra, Nigeria and of course, the 1994 horror genocide of Rwanda.
Almost one million Tutsis and moderate Hutu were killed following the downing of a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.
As you read this post, reports are that bloodthirsty Islamic extremist group IS is massacring minority Yazidi citizens in Iraq’s Sinjar region.
My narration is not an obfuscation of President Robert Mugabe’s recent allegation that the ubiquitous Kalangas are uneducated criminals.
I am simply drawing your attention to that sometimes as leaders; words that stray from us may be misinterpreted as hatred for something, or merely a reflection of our inner feelings.
Those in the historical know that life between the Ndebele and Shona in the 1890s was not easy, with peace and tranquility routinely truncated with perpetual conflicts over cattle, women and territory.
King Lobengula set up a series of vassals whose militant supervision soured relationships.
Even among the Shona tribes themselves, there were frequent conflicts over chieftainships and control.
Therefore one can appreciate why people of Matabeleland South are quick to accuse Mugabe that his sarcasm is driven by deliberate distortion of history.
It is no small wonder that according to the 2013 Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ)’s Hate Speech Report, based on the analysis of insulting, abusive, inflamtory and intolerant language and intended to incite public contempt for their targets, contained and surveyed in the media, among politicians, Mugabe was the chief culprit.
Mugabe’s utterances are particularly worrying in that they show us that tribalism is a recurring trait of his which unfortunately is usually accompanied by violence.
Can we as a nation in all honesty say we are safe in the hands of this one-man–wrecking –ball of a president?
Because of his thirst for power and belief that Zapu supporters, the majority of whom were Ndebele speaking, stood between him and re election after independence, this country witnessed the worst case of brutality in post independence Zimbabwe where an estimated 20 000 innocent and defenseless civilians were killed in the most gruesome ways imaginable.
Mugabe’s other covert strategy was to starve the people of Matabeleland through closing down shops and clinics, restriction of movements through impossible curfews, burning of crops and restriction of food aid to problematic areas.
Interestingly, he still uses most if not all of these methods to punish members of opposition parties in rural areas today.
Gukurahundi was to become the first the first time that Zimbabweans got a glimpse of the real Robert Mugabe and his strategy of terror, killings, looting and beatings in order to punish and suppress dissenting voices.
Over the years t Mugabe has used this same organised torture and violence through the useof state security agents as his modus operandi in order to maintain his grip on power.
In the 2002 and 2008 elections Mugabe went to great lengths to ensure he won.
They were characterised with violence, torture and intimation of unimarginable proportions, intimidation which up to this day is alive in the minds of a lot of people.
Tribal bashing is a preserve of stone-age minds; a reversal of modern development economics that promotes human dignity, shared values and respect of one another.
Every language, every tribe and every ethnic group is of divine providence. Any man who has enough courage to denigrate God’s work is on a trajectory of self-immolation.
Kalangas not only in Zimbabwe but also in Botswana and South Africa have contributed immensely to the region’s academic, artistic, cultural and industrial excellence.
To judge moral and social behaviour – as in you are a criminal – based on one’s tribe or language is to fall into the irretrievable abyss of genocidal insanity.
It is not surprising then to see the current persecution of people like Temba Mliswa by Zanu PF.
From the foregoing do we have to ask this man, who has such an entrenched hate and anger for the Kalanga and Ndebele people to apologise for his utterances?
If he has failed to take advantage of the many opportunities to at the very least apologise for genocide which saw the loss of over 20000 people, how on earth does one in their wildest imagination expect an apology for mere utterances, painful as they are?
What if for obvious reasons he says I meant what I said. What would be the next step?
Welshman Ncube is MDC president