Monday, August 18, 2014

Moreblessing's side needs to be heard

Most UK-based Zimbabweans who use Whatsapp have, by now, come across the following message:

Please share: Pane mukadzi anonzi Moreblessing Tandi -Machingauta kana kuti amai Dee. She is Zimbabwean and is in UK illegally. She has connections in London, Slough, Sheffield and Darby. In Zimbabwe, her family lives in unit K chitungwiza and here in UK she is of no fixed aboard as she does live in jobs from one family to another usually Zimbabwean families. She is hard working however i mbavha uye anonyepa. She goes around working in people's houses pretending to be nice so that she can get close to your belongs. She will then take your stuff and disappear without you knowing.

I was referred to her by my sister in law whom she went to school with and also worked with her husband at Air Zimbabwe. I took her on so she can look after my son who is now one year old. After staying with us for three months,one day when we had gone to work, I was called by social services who had been alerted by a neighbour who heard the baby crying in the house. We am still trying to get our baby back as it is because of this woman. She has completely vanished and I need her to give evidence to social services. They are not believing that we had left the baby with someone as there is no witness to my story and no trace of her in the house. She is the only person who can confirm our story. She had taken all her personal belongings including all my jewellery and other things which I found out when I got home. As we speak our son is in care. I am appealing to anyone who knows her to ask her to contact me. She knows where I live and also has all my contact details. Please mhuri ye Zimbabwe help me by passing this message on. I am so stressed and in pain. She does not have papers and is in UK illegally. Please protect your loved one and fellow Zimbabweans.

From the tone of this message, and the reactions on popular media, Moreblessing has been judged and found guilty by almost everyone who has read it, although none of them know her. We do not know for sure that events transcribed exactly as they were described in this message. Yet, this hasn't stopped bizarre nonsensical creatures like Viomak (who?), who has published it on her website and her facebook fanpage, offering her number to anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ms Tandi-Machingauta.

It is alleged that Ms Tandi-Machingauta is an illegal immigrant (okay, irregular migrant!) who earns a crust by living with Zimbabwean families and looking after their children. This is something that us Zimbabweans are yet to confront as a community- how we treat those women who have no residence permits, and so can only do that type of job or work using forged or a relative's documents. In fact, many of these women only come to the UK because of a relative needing their services as a childminder, only to be discarded when no longer needed. Ask any of the thousands of Zimbabwean women who are in asylum-seeker/failed asylum-seeker limbo how they got there, and the story invariably starts off with things going downhill when the kids they were looking after grew older and their services were no longer needed. This is the sort of people we are, Zimbabweans. We bring our distant cousin/spouse's distant cousin from Zimbabwe, and use them as not just the childminder but also the maid for as little as £250 a month. We restrict their contact with the outside world, instilling in them a fear of it. Just to make sure, we will slander their reputation in the Zimbabwean community, so they could not seek greener pastures. When the kids are grown, we will begin to make it clear that they are no longer welcome, until they leave or we find a pretext to throw them out. If they are lucky, they may shack up with some guy, for as long as he finds them interesting. Or they may get another job looking for some other family's kids, then the whole cycle starts all over again.

Something to think about the next time you hear a Zimba gripe about how they are unfairly treated at work. I digress.

When I saw this circular on my phone last week, the first question that came to me was: if Ms Tandi-Machingauta is an illegal immigrant, why would she just up and leave the only job she has? Whatever she might have stolen would be difficult to sell; Cash Converters etc won't let you sell them so much as a mobile phone cover without an ID and proof of residence, such as a recent bill or bank statement. Surely, it would not be in her interest at this point in time to leave her job or steal?

Second, if Ms Tandi-Machingauta was in the habit of taking up positions with Zimbabwean families and then robbing them blind, how come no one else has come forward with a story about being robbed? The only people coming forward are those who claim to know her from her hometown, Chitungwiza, and they all insist that if there is one thing the lady they affectionately refer to as MoreB is not, it's being a thief.

OK, so maybe she isn't a thief. It is easier to believe she isn't a thief not only on the strength of testimony in her favour by people who are not afraid to be publicly named, and also on the logic dictated by her circumstances as an illegal immigrant, but by the fact that her accusers remain unnamed. In fact, there is no proof at all that anything was stolen.

So, why would she leave what is the only security available to a Zimbabwean illegal immigrant? My first thought when I read the Whatsapp circular was DRAPETOMANIA. First described in 1851 by American doctor Samuel Cartwright, it is an infirmity of the mind that makes slaves want to run away.

"It is unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers...
In noticing a disease not heretofore classed among the long list of maladies that man is subject to, it was necessary to have a new term to express it. The cause in the most of cases, that induces the negro to run away from service, is as much a disease of the mind as any other species of mental alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule. With the advantages of proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many negroes have of running away, can be almost entirely prevented, although the slaves be located on the borders of a free state, within a stone's throw of the abolitionists."

I suspect that when Ms Tandi-Machingauta gets to tell her story, it will be one of abuse and despair. There is a lot of that in the Zimbabwean community, something we do not like to talk about. Hence, there is a lot of this pseudoscience-described Drapetomania going around. Ironic how a fictitious mental condition aptly describes the problem in the Zimbabwean community of child-minders who up and leave the first chance they get, even when they have nowhere else to go. Dr Cartwright also offered preventative measures:

"....On Mason and Dixon's line, two classes of persons were apt to lose their negroes: those who made themselves too familiar with them, treating them as equals, and making little or no distinction in regard to color; and, on the other hand, those who treated them cruelly, denied them the common necessaries of life, neglected to protect them against the abuses of others, or frightened them by a blustering manner of approach, when about to punish them for misdemeanors. Before the negroes run away, unless they are frightened or panic-struck, they become sulky and dissatisfied. The cause of this sulkiness and dissatisfaction should be inquired into and removed, or they are apt to run away or fall into the negro consumption......
If treated kindly, well fed and clothed, with fuel enough to keep a small fire burning all night--separated into families, each family having its own house--not permitted to run about at night to visit their neighbors, to receive visits or use intoxicating liquors, and not overworked or exposed too much to the weather, they are very easily governed--more so than any other people in the world....They have only to be kept in that state and treated like children, with care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away."

Moreblessing Tandi-Machingauta, wherever you are, I hope you are okay, and I hope you find the courage to tell your side of the story. Until I hear it, I am one of those who refrains from condemning you.

To the family that had their child taken into care- if one exists- I am not ashamed that I have no sympathy for you at all right now. I have nothing to be ashamed of. If it is true that an illegal immigrant left you in the lurch, well, you had no business employing one in the first place. (and don't give me that crap about helping a sister in need!) You get tax credits for that sort of thing, but I bet you are too greedy, or you got too much debt trying to impress your friends at church or you have most of your siblings on both sides of the marriage depending on you back in Zimbabwe. The Slave Trade ended years ago and Slavery was abolished in Britain just recently. I do hope you get your child back, but I want you to accept that the situation you are in is one of your own making.

To the Zimbabweans who have collaborated with the sadistic zeal that we have come to expect of you by circulating this libel, take a look in the mirror and ask yourselves how come you never band together to hunt down dodgy "courier services", "employment agencies" "immigration advisors" and all such scum who prey on the community?

1 comment:

theladygenius said...

Bravo! ! Great post.