MY TURN with TICHAONA ZINDOGA
There is a North American music band called The New Pornographers.
It is described on one online portal as a Canadian indie rock band formed in 1997 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is a musical collective of singer-songwriters and musicians from multiple projects.
The New Pornographers have released seven studio albums to critical acclaim and are noted for use of multiple vocalists and mixing elements of power pop in their music.
According to the information available, The New Pornographers’ name was chosen by Carl Newman, who reportedly coined it after watching a Japanese film called “The Pornographers”. However, it is also argued that many writers assume the name was a reference to one Jimmy Swaggart’s claim that rock and roll was “the new pornography”.
Of their seven offerings, “Whiteout Conditions” (2017) is the latest and one of the notable acclaims for the band, including being noted by that cult of music, Rolling Stone magazine, as having produced the number 79th in the “100 Best Albums of the Decade” for the 2009 offering “Electric Version” – the group’s second album.
A song called “Adventures in Solitude”, taken from the 2007 album, “Challengers” is an interesting, catchy song that has profound meaning.
Literally, it is a welcoming – homecoming – dirge for a wandering, broken man who had gone away into the world, and wars and comes back scarred.
Yet, there could be little relief in the homecoming – but home is home!
Here are The New Pornographers in parts:
“… Brought back from the wars/We thought, we lost you …/Welcome back
“Sleeping for years, pick through what is left/Through the pieces that fell and rose from the depth…
“I know you want to run far away/From one more and that it’s comin’ at a bad time
“…Some cold place heartless ways for all we know/I know you need to breathe through
“Come back, come too but it’s comin’ at a bad time
Old scarred face survivor’s guilt, for all we know.”
Welcome back, Saviour!
I hope that I have captured the poetic best of that beautiful number. It is one that has been whirling beautifully in my head since the news of the coming back of Saviour Kasukuwere, previously known as one of the kingpins of a political faction called G40 in Zimbabwe.
Kasukuwere fled Zimbabwe in November 2017 when there were extraordinary happenings that led to the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe fell with the G40 cohort that backed him, if, of necessity, they actually had not usurped power from the aged veteran ruler.
Other figureheads of the G40 cabal were Mrs Grace Mugabe, Professor Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao – Mugabe’s nephew.
The latter three, plus Kasukuwere, had amassed a lot of power and influence and money among themselves.
They often were compared with the notorious “Gang of Four” that existed during the last days of the Chinese Revolution, fronted by Chairman Mao’s young wife, Jiang Qing, also referred to as Madame Mao.
For all its borrowed power, the Zimbabwean Gang of Four was feared to meet the cruel fate that befell its predecessor, whose members were imprisoned and died under mysterious and horrific circumstances.
So, when Operation Restore Legacy rolled into town on the night of November 14, it was inevitable that that which we had feared had come to pass for the G40.
Or was it comeuppance?
Not many of us know what really took place at that hour of revolution and reversal for the G40.
Mugabe provided us with a small window into those last moments when he told a news conference that the G40 kingpins had sought shelter at his house, and cried “Mama save us” to Madame Mugabe, before their passage was secured to go outside the country.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt among our Gang of Four, and they have shown us to be in one piece.
Only bitter perhaps, if you go by the utterances of Moyo and Zhuwao.
Madame Mugabe has kept her counsel.
The G40, including lesser members, have not lost much materially – for which they should be grateful – and the likes of Mugabe himself, Moyo, Zhuwao and Madame Mugabe may also be enjoying the liberty to plot political comebacks, by proxy as of now.
Against this background, a fortnight ago Kasukuwere decided to come back home.
He had spent six months in self-imposed exile.
We now know that he was largely domiciled in South Africa where some political comrades took care of him, and for which he was grateful.
Kasukuwere took the bold decision to come home because it is proverbially cold out there, and had been making overtures to the new sheriffs in town.
And speaking less, too.
Most importantly, he had fallen out with his erstwhile comrades, something he graphically (albeit briefly) described to me – which I will not mention.
“Home is home and Zimbabwe remains my country,” he told a newspaper ahead of his return home, revealing that he was prepared to face the music, including corruption charges.
“It’s courage that should drive you to say: ‘Let me face whatever has to come my way.’…Once you have left your nation, it’s not easy, it’s not pleasant at all. For the first time, I have a better understanding and deeper knowledge of how citizens feel. It is not a pleasant thing at all, it’s something that none of us should ever wish on anybody…”
He revealed that he had learnt to live within “my means and do away with yesterday’s appetites” and could not afford either the luxury or the pleasures of things such as a holiday, which were no longer a priority.
He no longer had security personnel or bag carriers.
It’s all gone.
What cold, heartless place to come from!
What scarred face survivor’s guilt!
Significance, implications of Kasukuwere’s comeback
The return of Kasukuwere is significant in many ways. He returned in one piece but not in a body bag.
He definitely was not hunted down, which would have happened in other places and times. It would be naïve to think that authorities in Harare did not know his whereabouts.
They presumably also know where Moyo and Zhuwao are but apparently do not have the appetite to harm them.
The Mugabes are enjoying peaceful life in Zimbabwe.
That Kasukuwere returned safely pours water on claims of danger on the persons of the likes of Zhuwao and Moyo, which may have been the reason why they were unhappy with his return.
In that imbroglio, Kasukuwere has come to know his friends better, and he is clear.
He has started to face his music and was charged for “border jumping” last week. More will likely to come on the list.
However, apart from the criminal aspects or lack thereof, where they can be proved or otherwise, it will be shown that November 2017 was just but another political episode.
These episodes have characterised Zanu-PF since 1963.
Last year’s events are part of the drama.
Sooner or later life moves on – and it has been shown that in the revolutionary party these ups and downs are common.
They also have been pretty bloodless.
Which is to say Kasukuwere will likely carry his cross and, if he so chooses, may be rehabilitated and be part of the family again.
My own feeling, which has been public, is that Kasukuwere has more institutional aptitude in the ruling party and had veered off course not only because he had become drunk with power – wherever it came from – but also kept bad company.
At some point he should have exercised better judgment and divested of the ill company and remain rooted to the ground.
But then, things moved too fast.
The band played too madly.
Yet no doubt, he has a sense of perspective.
The political troubles are not yet over, as indeed criminal issues may be waiting, but Kasukuwere should have learnt his lessons.
His adventures in solitude to thank, no less.
We thought we lost you. Welcome back Chirandu!