At 17:52 hours this 21 November 2017 BBC interrupted its Hard Talk interview with my friend Dr Ibbotson Mandaza to flash the news of the resignation of Robert Gabriel Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe, the country of my birth and upbringing.
Thereafter all the news channels provided wall-to-wall video and audio footage of our people euphorically celebrating Mugabe’s demise in the streets of Harare, our Capitol City.
I was not moved to share in this euphoria, as welcoming as the news was. I have been overwhelmed by feelings and thoughts steeped in memories … really, really bad memories. They play out in my mind like ghosts first seen in really bad dreams.
The first is that of my school friend, a boy genius and brilliant guitarist, Stanford Abrahams, who disappeared at the hands of then Prime Minister Mugabe’s CIO. So did a wonderful member of our community, Yousf Carim, and a bright young lad named Rodman. These three are just some of thousands who have just disappeared during 37 years of a reign of terror. Stories and claims of our people being put down mine shafts abounded and were confirmed to me by two credible sources when I practiced as an Advocate. This included members of CIO themselves threatening to do the same to me and a client in the name of then Prime Minister Mugabe.
I remember being solicited by a really beautiful Zimbabwean lady at a Botswana hotel who had to leave and talk to a man who had just arrived with that look of hopelessness that we have become accustomed to. The Hotel manager then approached me and explained, with tears in his eyes, that the lady and the man were husband and wife. Both were graduates but had resorted to the wife having to prostitute herself in order to ensure the survival of their family back home.
I am also reminded of other graduates working at the airport.
I think of how my wife and I had to uproot our family in 1992 and thereafter work in three different countries, as second-class citizens, because our homeland was about to degrade to a hell hole.
I think of how our community has been decimated by the necessity of most of its members having had to leave and seek refuge, sanctuary and hope in countries across this planet.
I think of my son in Auckland, Zealand, my daughter in Canada and friends all so far, far away.
Over 3,6 million of our people are now in other countries with more fording the crocodile infested Limpopo River and jumping the border fence to get to xenophobic ridden South Africa where we have been burnt alive and thrown off trains for our ethnicity and talents.
I think of my 6 goats, the progeny of 6 goats that were given to me by a great spiritualist, named Fuyane, who had subjected me to the Ndebele lungisa ritual after my birth. They were bayoneted to death together with all community members of my extended Ndebele family at Lupane during Mugabe’s Gukurahundi genocide. A reliable estimate puts the number of victims in this genocide at some 20,000, all lying in unmarked graves.
I think of my sham interview at the Judicial Services Commission of South Africa where I was denied basics of procedural fairness and made the victim of outrageous lies on account of the ever present xenophobic undercurrent that insidiously infuses interactions in foreign lands that we find ourselves in.
I think of how Pam and I have suffered pernicious discrimination and xenophobia despite being at the very top of our professions. I have worked in three other countries, at the highest level, but have had to endure the insidious indignity of being patronized as something to be tolerated.
I think of how we lost all our savings and investments because of the crash of the Zim dollar.
In my mind’s eye, I see that little dog lying on the body of its owner during the brutalization of farmers as victims of ethnic land cleansing.
I think of all those of our people who were cremated alive and thrown off trains in the so called xenophobic violence of free South Africa.
Most of all I think of how we have been stripped of our innate dignity as human beings even though we are born of one of the most richly endowed countries on this planet. Despite being human beings of exceptional talent our people have been reduced to apologists, refugees, beggars … international migrants … ever grateful for just being treated as human.
The greatest crime that Robert Mugabe committed, apart from genocide, was stripping our people of their dignity.
We are now distinguishable across the planet for the “Zimbabwe look in our eyes”. The eyes don’t have the glint and spark of normality. They are infused with a dull curtain of apology. The competition between hope and hopelessness is betrayed by our eyes.
As I watch our people, delirious with joy, I wonder if they will lose that tinge of hopelessness in their eyes that has been with them for too long.
Like me, Robert Mugabe, was schooled in the loving way of Jesus Christ … and yet chose the way of Satan.
I am smothered in the darkness of the past, struggling to see the light.
God forgive me but I really cannot help hoping that his demise as President is the first step to him soon burning in Hell.