Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why we cry Beyethe! to Mzilikazi wa-Afrika

If you are abreast of current affairs in South Africa, you will probably not need an introduction to this multi-talented individual whose talents include music, poetry and of course, the highest notch in his belt, fearless investigative journalism. He has recently landed in controversial hot soup with the law over his exposés of political heavy weights, such as his article two weeks ago about South African police commissioner, Bheki Cele’s allegedly dodgy dealings in securing a new police headquarters. You can read about his ordeal in the past week here and here.

Although I have never met Wa Afrika, there are three main reasons why I have a soft spot for the chap. The name Mzilikazi is close to my heart as originally, it is the name of Mzilikazi Khumalo, one of Shaka Zulu’s lieutenants who fled from Shaka in the 1800s to set up the Ndebele State in the Southern part of what is now Zimbabwe, where my hometown of Bulawayo stands today. One of Bulawayo’s oldest townships is also named Mzilikazi and has a solid history of academic, social, sporting and cultural vibrancy. The fact that this King of the Ndebele happened to be one of my forefathers on my mother’s side obviously adds to the glitter of this modern day namesake .

The second reason why I find myself in favourable terms with this Sunday Times reporter, is his adoption of the title, Wa-Afrika. The English translation can be roughly understood to mean “Of Africa” or “From Africa.” This implies an awareness of his African roots and an association with not just his country of birth but the continent at large. It is refreshing to note in these days where many Africans are abandoning their unity and allowing the divisive gulf set by their oppressors to thrive. Here is a man who proudly proclaims that he is part of the larger family of Africans.

The two reasons above are not exactly objective reasons and are based on my understanding of the names and titles that the man bears, which might not necessarily be a reflection of him. That is why I have thus far restricted myself to using words such as “digging” and “favouring.” The third reason allows me to be more adventurous and be so bold as to say I hold deep respect for the man. Here is a man who is willing to expose anomalies such as the corrupt handling of public resources, a man who is not afraid to use the typewriter as a tool to defend democracy and transparency. Here is a man who is able to roll with the punches and even after being arrested, intimidated and threatened, is able to reclaim his position in the trenches. It is for this reason, more than the others that I and many others salute you Mzilikazi wa-Afrika.

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