They had used another road. I only got to know that we had arrived when the car stopped facing an approximately three metre tall gate. One of the SAPS police officers got out of the car and opened the gate.
I was locked inside the rear of the Toyota Hilux double cab – they call them police van. There were three police officers in the cab which could normally accommodate four people but even double that number if it was in my village, in my country where we still believe and live guided by pseudo-socialist principles. There one scotch cart can take every villager’s sack of maize to and from the grinding mill free of charge and where a motorcycle can carry three at once.
We are intristically born socialist in our village, I suppose. My younger brother Tawana, owned a bicycle and he shared it with every other child in the vicinity to the extent that it almost became ‘ a village bicycle’. In no time it was damaged and of course was put away in one of the corners of our bedroom. My father was furious because we had neglected Tawana’s bicycle being destroyed by other people as if it belonged to the whole village.
How we would chase other children from the bicycle was beyond me. Our community had unwritten socialist principles that reigned supreme. We were born and experienced our father’s sharing everything except their wives. The fruit trees- mipfura , misumha, miuyu – were shared even if they were in the field of gogo Tizvigoni or gogo VaChampion. Even the pastures were equally shared among all the members of the community. Mbuya Mashindi didn’t have cattle yet she did go to the dip tank to pick other people’ cattle dung for manure. No one prevented her from doing so.
I can’t believe that baba has become capitalist minded. Our grandfather had one cow called Madhikausi so my grandfather – that is what baba told us – relied on other people’s donkeys to farm. With the proceeds from farming he sent all of his children through school, my father included so how come father has become capitalist minded?
In that place where Isaac took us called Tzaneen, they don’t give their cattle names. They say it is a sign of being poor. How can someone with one hundred beasts name them all ? They ask. I had to explain to them more than a dozen times that in Zimbabwe naming cattle is an art. One can identify with his or her herds. There is a special bond that is created between the owner and the beasts.
Its not like there is a legislation that makes it illegal not to name cattle. Eish! These mass media houses has turned the world against us! Several people out there thinks that Zimbabwe is a ‘funny’ nation with ‘funny’ legislation, ‘funny’ people and even a ‘funny’ government. Its not like that , we are just a creative, lovely and peaceful people . The names of our beasts are informal no wonder why they don’t appear on the dip tank cards.
This creativity has since flourished in our urban cities. Commuter omnibuses are branded all over – front , left, right, back and sometimes inside. The minibus driver need not hoot to get the attention of those who intend to travel, instead there a people who are paid to call passengers and tell them where the mini bus is going. We call them Mahwindi (plural) and Hwindi (single). Even in the marketplace , there are people who use the art of oratory to convince people to buy. Our creativity is not limited . Even our names are becoming more improved – Brighton, Lighton, Goodnow, Causemore, Godknows, Welcome, Fantastic and so forth .
The South African police officers did not put me in the cab but in the rear. I had not committed a crime or rather I had not officially committed any offense except that I was smelling, having spent three days without bathing or changing clothes trying to negotiate with the farm manager to release my travel documents since I could not agree on the terms of work. The work at the farm included picking up not yet ripe fresh mangoes – thirty crates a day – for delivery to the mango achaar processing factories in the nearby town of Tzaneen and as far as the Gauteng province. The acidic juice that fell from the fresh mangoes was too disastrous for human skin such that most people who were working at this farm had faces that were literally red like peeled tomatoes. The top layer of their skin had been chemically peeled off.
I could not foresee myself working under such conditions. Even back home such physical appearances could only be interpreted as symptoms of HIV/AIDS, no one could ever believe my story given my background and scandals in the village as well as the notion that there were a great prevalence of HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa. Thus I chose not to render my service than be a victim of discrimination upon returning back home.
I guess the smell was more than enough for the police officers such that I could not rub shoulders with them in the cab. I was now in the rear meant for offenders yet I thought myself to be the victim. Were they discriminating against me? I asked myself. Discrimination based on race is racism. And there is also discrimination based on tribe – tribalism. Then if I was being discriminated against because of smell then was it ‘Smellism’ ? Or rather ‘Noseism’ since the discrimination could have been rising from the nose?
The police van came to a stop. There was a quick opening and closing of doors. One of the officers opened the door for me,
‘”Which one is his house?” asked the policeman
“That one with a thatched roof,” I pointed towards a neatly thatched roundavel which was in the opposite direction of the hall in which we had slept the last night.
Isaac came out of the roundavel and moved towards us. He looked straight in my face.
“So you came with the police?” he spoke slowly with a firm voice.
“Okay , this young man wants his asylum permit back,” one of the officers told Isaac before I could even utter a single word.
“Now the permits are not here but at the next farm, that’s where our offices are. I will go at once and get it for him.”
He seemed to be cooperative.
“Thanks man, thanks man!”
“Sho, sho !” Isaac responded in their native colloquial. Just like that and the police entered their van and vanished. Gone!
I remained alone standing in front of a giant ,dark brown and red eyed Isaac. He fiercely looked at me , i failed even to blink and instead looked down. He grunted and up i lifted my head . He was now holding a gun. I fell down at once and he moved towards me. He gently stepped his right foot on my left lap.
“So you think you are clever? Hee?”
“I am sorry Sir!” With tear flooded eyes, I pleaded.
NON ENGLISH WORDS
Shona to English
baba – father
Hwindi – tout for local minibuses(kombis)
Mipfura – Amarula Fruit tree
Misumha – Indigenous Fruit tree
Miuyu – Fig trees
Brighton Taruberekera aka @tbmunyori is a political Science student at the University Of Zimbabwe. He is also a poet. Above all he is passionate about writing . He can be contacted on 0778992045 / firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/tbmunyori/