Mbizo sent these to The BeZine submissions email in recent days. I can report that he is alive and not in custody. I have clarified that he wishes for them to be published. I have lightly edited the essay with Mbizo’s review.
—Michael Dickel, Editor, The BeZine
The Tragedy of Speaking Truth to Power in Africa
a short essay
My story is unique and very much extraordinary because I am poet, a human rights poetivist. I have refused to bow down. A radical wordsmith that stubbornly refused to toe the line, to tone down my grinding imagery and crude metaphor. I write what surrounds me, the most critical of it in Africa is livelihood, citizens, voters people, government and leadership. As an African child, poet, writer, artivist or griot your story is fashioned by inequality, hunger, injustice. corruption and disgruntlement. Political leadership that bashes the rights of citizens through extortion, political violence, vote rigging, money laundering and mafia style business cartels.
I am a poet and an African griot who refused to repent into the church of rogue political elite. I started as a messenger of our village traditional cultures and later delved into the deep flesh of matters that affect my people as perpetuated by rulership that has caused gushes on me emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I have since lost cadres home, family, nation and abroad. I am labeled the enemy of the state. I have seen and lived in the midst of forests of death and bushes of hell. I have been running not reading.
It is not revolutionary to see a failing state and you remain mum and silent. It is not revolutionary to see and watch dictators scheming the national cake alone and we remain daft and silent. Corruption has since burrowed through sacks of confidence in most cities and nations. Poets are usually bought not to say or to see evil but to commercialize their verses and metaphors as praise singers; injustice continues and unfairness continues to burn ladders of justice.
The tragedy is revolutionary badges and lanterns of hope are given to those who Speak lies, those who see no evil, to those who loot, kill and destroy. The paradox is poets like me, purveyors of truth, are trounced out of their villages to be persecuted in dungeons of disgrace. We are bowled out of birth lands to be dowsed in climes of despair. We are given titles that are equalized to unpatriotic and other hopeless totems of rue because we refused to walk and talk the language of political thievery.
The African poet of resistance remains a prisoner dressed in the garb of prejudice for society and others among his peers are drenched in the fear of losing lives, jobs and favors if they walk alongside him in his lane; the revolutionary, protest poet walks alone in the dark valleys of death and his bed. Thorns await everytime he sneezes verses of truth, raw imagery and crude proverbs pointing to those sitting on high thrones and rabid minions. When ever chunks of truth are written by a so-called dissident poet, the system becomes a serpent and the state becomes rogue and the poet is gnashed, his lashing tongue is burnt.
Usually, when that happens peers squeeze themselves into their shells of fear; in fear of victimization, few remain of strong and foreign peers who stand firm because the rogue system cannot catch them and net them the same way they can do to the revolutionary artivist poet and his band of peers. Some peers are bought by pieces of gold to sell out the strongest ones and sometimes truth and genuineness are slaughtered on the slabs of poverty, corruption and extortion.
Humanity has lost the green color of life, the solid stead of dignity. Few pieces of gold can repent a true desciple into a daredevil qualified to kill and devour truth. Even though the African resistance poet is rich with expression, proverb and truth, he lacks life, money, mobility and material that his opponents are blessed with and poverty with despair are weapons used against him to keep under the grind of suffering. As the system becomes rogue, the poet is discarded to peripherals of dust where humanity does not exist.
This protest fortune-teller has gathered writings, written writings and created platforms for other artivists, writers, poets and others. His stories are immersed in crying metaphor, blood-drenched imagery, heart-rending irony, and all that is crude satire. His hybrid writings are dipped in beef roast of reason and his political commentary is the throb of a national drumbeat that was left unattended for the past 40 years.
Poverty is the song that cranks the brains of his people, his people are drunk on cheap propaganda. His killers are not tired of chasing this poet griot artivist who is running still.
The Tragedy is that the world has gone rogue, favor now goes with political affiliation, social inclination or cultural denomination or else you die choking with chunks of your poetry or you are strangled by the powers you tell the truth to; maybe where you run for refuge there are peers to your hunters and your killers and you become easy prey to predators you know and don’t know.
The Tragedy those homemates, those classmates, those of bloodline never saw you hailing a slogan and they don’t know how or if a poet becomes a political victim. They are psyched that a poet is an entertainer, a praise singer, a street actor and stand up speaker with lyrics oiling the throne of the king and queen. They are ignorant of my ordeals, of my revolutionary stance, my radical stead; they think I am insane. They are ignorant.
This is the tragedy of an African Poet of resistance.
Your prolific role is to see value in every citizen I am a citizen carrying crude metaphors of truth in the caves of my mind I am a Zimbabwean holding on to the raw scepter of true images of my land, our country I am a people yearning for power elite to repent from corruption I am a griot crying for bureaucrats to repent from stealing the national fat I respect the flag, it's colors and its meaning, I am born by ancestors that saluted chimurenga I am a fighter of truth and for justice, I am haunted, threatened and intercepted for speaking the truth Art is a gift, poetry is a weapon of mass instruction, Zimbabwe is the country I know, country I was born, a country I know best of caves, heroes, plains, meadows and rivers A country rich but a stolen country, stolen of truth, stolen of love, stolen of free speech poets are national assets, recorders of history, fortunetellers of past, present and future We do not to agree to make a country and to build peace I thought the second republic is for all in the republic . I never knew it is of the selected few, I am voice crying in the wilderness, son of the soil haunted at home by minions of the state and l thrown into wild bushes for hyenas to feed on Which crime have committed that makes me unwanted and unZimbabwean The bones of mothers cry for me in the land of my birth, bones of my fathers are weeping for me Zimbabwe carry the throne, thistle, roses, pain, laughter, hope and cries of my people For when Zimbabwe and security minions give me a break Is it a crime to write the poetic graffiti of crude truth For when shall we remain praise singers of some things that do not praise I always thought as griots our role is to sing truth Power and then corridors of power are sanitized Truth is the only detergent washing the dirty linen of the state and we walk clean, loved and United Mine is not a violent statement, it is a message to remind you that I am citizen, a child of Zimbabwe, haunted by securocratic intelligence inside and outside the country The second republic as I was taught is the dispensation of truth, free speech and embraces all We all got faults from high ranks of power, I have written no placards but poetry, my slogan is poetry of resistance If I die today, tomorrow or the day after I know that I died telling the truth to power Death by the way the way of God, I have sacrificed to die writing true poetry immersed in jugs of satire and dishes crude imagery I have lived a life as a defender of truth, as a writer of raw metaphor Expressing the hard feelings of my pain and the pain at home I will not weep on my death, but my death is not a way to surrender, it is to say, there is always that time to rest, to leave others carrying on with the revolutionary literary candles If you are true, you lay a wreath alongside my poetic peers on my supposed shallow grave They will call me homeless, country less, fatherless and motherless But some will say here lies a poet, a griot, a son of the soil, a fighter and all But if I don't die tonight I will continue the fight for truth and I know one day you will see the truth of my resistance poetry and protest letters and I will be buried decently next to the caves of my ancestors I have done my prayers that even in dreams, death, life or writing, I will not be defeated, This is my epitaph to the man that is myself, a man who has fought many struggles I am rejected, haunted and persecuted by his own people Where are you mr president My brilliance, my shallowness, my poetry, my controversial political commentary and my hybrid narratives are an assert to the land dipped in tanks of corruption, murky waters of political toxicity,unfairness and other I respect those doing good, fighting to build the nation but there is an elephant in the room injustice, human rights abuses, lack of free speech and corruption I respect those speaking the truth and every time they are gagged President, I am a griot crying in the wilderness