WHO killed more black people, apartheid or Robert Mugabe? That may sound like a strange question, but it's the sort of thing that can come up after the fifth round of single malt.
Alcohol makes some people feel angry, some sad and others horny, but it usually makes me and my friends feel smarter. You'd be amazed at the deep, intellectual discussions we have.
Of course, we never know if we're just fooling ourselves until the next morning.
What seemed like the most intelligent conversation ever the night before could turn out to be just senseless
rambling when viewed in the unwelcome morning light.
Anyway, the morning after this question came up - and by morning I really mean early afternoon - I decided to do some research.
It's all part of figuring out whether the previous night's deep discussion was really just drunken rambling.
And this time, it turns out, what we were talking about was actually something worthy of further exploration. Yes, it was a strange question, but the answer turned out to be even stranger. Because, you see, a quick bit of Internet research turned up the fact that the Zimbabwean president actually did kill more black people than the apartheid regime did. To say I was shocked is a big understatement.
My head was spinning, and I wasn't sure if it was the hangover or the stuff I was reading. I must say that this is one of the great things about the Internet. The sort of research that would have taken ages to do in the old days now takes just a few minutes or hours at the most.
So what did I discover? According to a report handed in to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997, there were 7 000 political deaths in Mzansi between 1948, when the National Party came to power, and 1989, when apartheid started to be dismantled.
Looking at Mugabe's record, the thing that immediately jumps out at you is the Gukurahundi. Mugabe got himself a brigade of soldiers trained by that very nice old Kim II-sung from North Korea, who himself was responsible for the death of a million of his countrymen.
This Fifth Brigade waged a war of terror on the civilian population of Matabeleland, murdering more than 20 000 people. Those who were killed may have been the lucky ones, as others were tortured and imprisoned without trial.
As Zimbabwean journalist Pindai Dube wrote last year: "Gukurahundi left thousands of families poorer and undermined the development of Matabeleland and Midlands provinces, which still lag behind other parts of the country. Thousands of people, who were born during that time, remain stateless as their parents were killed and they have no proof that they were born in Zimbabwe."
Why is this blamed on Mugabe specifically? Because the Fifth Brigade was under his personal command, and not part of the normal army structures.
And all of the killing happened for just one reason - to consolidate his power.
HAVING read about all of this, I felt a little sick the next time I saw one of those pictures showing President Jacob Zuma and Mugabe together, laughing and looking like they're having the time of their lives.
Who wants to be friends with someone who committed genocide? Quite a few African leaders, apparently. It's the worst sort of hypocrisy, and it makes me very angry.
On Friday Mugabe was in the news again when he refused to answer a journalist's question while he could see a white person.
"I don't want to see a white face," he reportedly said. This incident apparently upset quite a few white people in Mzansi.
Personally, I think you have more to fear from Mugabe if you're black.
Don't forget to write to me at [email protected]
Until next time, salani kahle!
This article first appeared in the Sunday Sun.
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