Saturday, December 18, 2010

When I was a little boy hyenas were the most terrifying. Mama would try to make me stop crying when they made their shrieks at our village at night, and she could only hit me to make me stop. I was thinking of them eating my flesh from my bones like they did to the dead animals and smaller animals and sometimes children.

The hyenas were the white men, thats what Olu would always say. Just like a hyena, the white men would come in the night, and like a hyena they would take your flesh away. But the white men have many more tricks to take your flesh than the hyena. He will take your land, he will take your women, your religion and your livelihood.

I was supposed to know the name of the first big hyena man who came from UK a hundred years ago, I was supposed to learn his name in school. He said that to be a British is to win first prize in the lottery of life. I also remember he said that if he could annex the stars he would. He wanted to make a trade route all the way from Zimbabwe to Cairo. He was one of the first who made agreements with the tribal kings and then broke the agreements, he said he would take the land from under their very feet. And he did.

We lived in reservations for generations. We nursed the white man's babies while he raped our women. When we wanted things like medicines he hung us upside down by our balls from a tree. This went from the day they came until the independence won in 1980.

Olu told me about how terrible it was to resist the British in power. You became used to going to jail, and when you were in jail you became used to being beaten. Your family would come to try and give you food in jail, but then the guards would beat them if they caught them. Prison is a place where people die of diarrhea. He saw several men die that way in the same cell, lying in pools of blood and shit. The white guard came and pissed on a corpse of an independence leader who died that way. When you die of diarrhea you begin to shit out your own guts. Your stomach fills with blood and your intestines come out of your ass. This is the hyenas coming from inside you. This is how the white man is a hyena from inside you, said Olu. Even the hyenas have some decency by eating you from without.

I always see the white man and know he wants me to die this way. Especially now in the ZANU PF government. Mugabe has said, the white man has fucked us, now we will fuck him. He thinks he can live here and own all the farms, well no, this land belongs to us. I know how many blacks he has murdered too, the people who oppose him. Nobody can deny how strong he is.

I knew that Mugabe understood what we went through, because he is an African. This is why he wants to put the guns in our hands. He knew that he could be heretic and then be president. He knew that there was enough hate to make people move for him, kill and die for him. He knew he could be heretic-president. And no matter what he does, he can explain it with the idea of conspiracy against him by the white man, because it is always true that the white man doesn't want him to succeed. The white man will sabotage the black leader, no matter how just. And therefore revenge is something you cannot stop. The hyena is a murderer too, but he doesn't care about revenge. He does not resent anybody.

Sometimes in the village there would be bad food for months. It got better some years and worse some years. It got really bad in the last few years, after my school shut down. We would get maize porridge every day, that was our only meal. They paid for British style uniforms and books about white men but they could not give us good food. As food got worse in the country our lunch got worse. There would be weevils in the food. You would try to eat them like they were grains of rice, and you could only trick yourself if you ate quickly. Swallow without letting it hit your tongue first. Get it past your tongue like you have no tongue. Hold your tongue like in class or when a white man comes.

When you eat shit, when you are placed lower than a maggot on the food chain, it explains why people do horrible things. I'm telling you this because you should know. You should know about people treated like animals for slaughter.

My village was near a farm. It was owned by the Keelin family, white family. It was over 600 acres of land. When times were good it made millions of dollars and it gave jobs to many many workers. When I went by on the road I would see the white family on their porch. They had three blonde girls. Always in white dresses with lace on them. To make them look as pure as they could. Signs of being clean. Clean white rule. This is what they are. The girls as they got older made gestures that were carefree. They were the most white by the way they flipped their long hair. Looking down, sewing something, flip her hair around. I would watch from the road while I walked by. I wanted to warn them sometimes or tell them to go back to Europe.

Anyone who is that carefree will not last here. You can't be flipping your hair around in this land.

One day I was leaving my house. My house is made of corrugated tin and it falls down in the rain. I got out and as soon as I looked into the sunlight I heard chop-chop-chopping of machine guns. I pulled back in and lay on the dirt floor. I heard someone pull open the metal covering my door. I felt a gun push on my head. "Get the fuck out!" I got up and didn't look to see who it was, but I knew that I knew him. I left the village without looking behind me. We had almost nothing but still there are people who want our belongings and our houses. I saw a group of men from my village on the road. They were climbing the fence to Keelin property. By now the farm was not making money. The workers had left because people had forced them off and began to attack the family.

I climbed the big metal fence. My feet were bleeding from a sharp piece of it. We walked through the field and I saw the looks on the men's faces. Nobody said anything but everyone was excited and nervous. The man close to me was smiling like he won something, the man far from me was frowning like he was going into war. We knew that we couldn't get in trouble for what we were doing, unless the white man was going to shoot us.

The sun was setting. I knew that the daughters were upstairs in their rooms. The father and mother stayed downstairs near the kitchen. Maybe they knew we were coming. We broke the window with big pieces of wood. We heard screams from inside and we heard them running around. We followed the voices to the window on the other side of the house where the woman was trying to nail pieces of wood on it. We smashed this one too and knocked the wood and hammer out of her hands.

I cleared all the glass from the sides of the window with a piece of metal I found. I took off my shirt and put it over the bottom of the window. We climbed into the kitchen. The men with me started to laugh and make noises.

Two of the men went into the master bedroom. I went up the stairs to the second floor. I heard the man yelling and the sound of something breaking. I didn't hear his wife. The stairs were creaking and it was silent upstairs. But their bedrooms doors were closed.

Ee-yee, ee-yee! When we were kids we tried to imitate the hyenas and when we made hyena noises we sounded just like them. We heard one of the girls crying from behind her door.

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