When I had more time for such things, as well a fully stocked university library, I used to take perverse pleasure in reading panegyrics to the genius of Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung and the like from state propagandists. What comedy I found lay in knowledge of the evil works these men had wrought compared to the praise they received, but it was also useful in that it allowed one to see them as they saw themselves.
Those who've been following the news in Zimbabwe, where president-for-life Robert Mugabe has recently stolen one election that he lost, turning it into a run-off against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and unleashed a wave of terror against opposition supporters after running the country's economy into the ground, are probably getting their news based on reports that originate with the BBC and other British media, who've done a fine job of reporting what's going on.
But they're only getting half the story. Why does Mugabe have the support he does, and why do the Zimbabwean people allow him to hang on to power? Force and election rigging aren't the only answers. The man must have some base of popular support.
And that's reflected in this editorial from the Herald of Harare, which, to those who follow news reported from outside the country, delivers the black irony of Soviet propaganda in spades, but also tells us how Mugabe and his supporters view the man.
IT is a pity that the people who voted against President Robert Mugabe have no ability to remember the servitude they existed in prior to the last 28 years.
They did it for the money. What is the price of the loyalty? It is a heavy price to pay when "your" people are prepared to buy and sell you for Western money. Western money could not, and cannot, buy President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. But clearly, as the number of people who voted against him in the presidential election show, people of Zimbabwe, in Zimbabwe, are prepared to sell him to the West in return for money.
Of course, from this frame of mind, those who are voting against Mugabe are selling out the country, and deserve what they get. To whom are they selling out? Here's where that unintended humor comes in.
Property and the European are interchangeable, indistinguishable, inseparable. The one goes with the other. One without the other is untenable. The two together provide an almost visible exhibition of an orgasmic sensation-taking place.
But together the European and other people’s land, particularly land belonging to black people, and we have climax, multiple orgasmic sensation.
Are the people of Zimbabwe prepared to return to servicing the orgasmic needs of the European desire for property, money, ownership and control of the people’s land?
Edward Said couldn't have said it better. Against Robert Mugabe, the fighter for freedom, we have a class of multiply orgasmic land parasites. No wonder diplomats are having their tires slashed. Who wants those endlessly climaxing sensationalists hanging around government offices anyway? They probably leave their spoor on conference room tables without wiping up.
And what is the price of service to your own nation and your own continent, Africa? Robert Mugabe, fighter, liberator, leader, man, has paid heavy price upon heavy price. But he will stand fast because men like "Mugabe" come back once a century. Men who bring true transformational change to the lives of their people. It is a pity that "the people" in whose lives this fundamental change has been wrought have such short memories. It is a pity but it is irrelevant that they have no ability to remember the servitude they existed in prior to the last 28 years.
And there's the crux of the matter. Robert Mugabe indisputably did "transformationally change" Zimbabwe by doing as much as anyone to oust the colonial government of Ian Smith when the country was known as Rhodesia. Though even post-colonial studies professors and the BBC won't defend him now, he remembers. This is how he thinks of himself, and perhaps just as importantly, it's how his allies in South Africa, who fought the same fight but have certainly served their nation better in power, see him.
A man who sees himself in this fashion, like a Castro, will never let go. Make no mistake: Whatever the complaints of the UN and the Commonwealth, Mugabe will steal the next run-off election as he stole the first. And he'll stay in power until he dies or is forced out. How could a man who, in his mind, has already "paid heavy price upon heavy price" do otherwise?
Things in Zimbabwe will have to get worse before they can get better.