Friday, October 30, 2015

Will We Ever Judge The World Through Our Own Spectacles?

This post is inspired by reactions to report that a school security officer in the States manhandled a female student, but I want to first cite a story from some time ago.

A few years back, there appeared a story (I saw it in the Daily Mail)about a White British couple brought before the courts for racially-aggravated assault. They had found a Black Zimbabwean man in their house, in bed with their daughter, his girlfriend, and had attacked him. Their excuse was that they were so angry to find this chap take liberties in their own house, but noone was listening. For many Zimbabweans in the UK, here was clear proof of British racism. These parents only reacted this way because their daughter's boyfriend was Black. So, they joined in the vitriol-fest.

This reaction to the story is quite strange for a Zimbabwean. Our courtship norms dictate that a boyfriend does not meet the parents until he is ready to marry, i.e. pay the roora/lobola. He may contact the girl's sisters and their partners, and also her paternal aunts and their partners. The Zimbabwean boyfriend cannot come up to her door and ask to see her. He has to sneak around the neighbourhood, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. He may ask a female friend to call her out of the house. Before the advent of mobile phones, we used to get a female friend or cousin (my own sister was far too young for such a task) to make the call and then hand over the handset when the intended recipient came on. If caught, one risked being beaten up by the girl's brothers. Or, have her father demand that you marry her immediately. As for getting caught in her parents, that was a serious risk. I am not going to confirm or deny if I ever took it myself, but I will admit that I have had the dogs set on me a few times.

This happens so often, it is the stuff of popular culture. The following clip is a contemporary re-working of traditional jiti song, in which the girl pleads with her admirer not to loiter by her gate, as she will get beaten by her father.



In this song, Winky D tells how a girl pleaded with her father not to beat him up as she was the one who had invited him in to the home.

Why would anyone coming from such a background be shocked that this British couple beat their daughter's boyfriend when they found him in their house and in their bed? Yet, that is what happened. Most Zimbabweans abandoned their own culture and joined in the kind of racial demagoguery that actually does very little to bring communities together.

I am seeing the same double standards being displayed in the matter of the student who was dragged from her desk by a security officer. A Black girl being disrespectful to the Black teacher and forcibly removed from the class by a security officer who happens to have a Black partner. Coming from a culture where all staff (including non-teaching) and prefects are expected to enforce discipline, where kids do not report to their parents that they were punished at school as they would then have to confess what they did to possibly deserve the punishment, you'd think this would be a no-brainer. Such contumacy as is seen in British schools would never be countenanced back home. But comments such as these are the case:

Hey, he sent that lil girl rolling across the classroom like rugby ball. Reminded me of the BSAP of rhodesia vachiisa makechemu pamunhu. Very brutal indeed and surprisingly Obama seems to be supporting that brute!!- Comment on an article on NewZimbabwe.com

OK, we are not back home. I get that part. But surely we have another perspective of images such as that video of the officer dragging the girl that we should not be afraid to share with the rest of the world? Do we really think that racism is the biggest issue affecting Black children in the UK and other places when they misbehave at school or sneak in to people's beds to take liberties with their daughters? As it is, there are many Zimbabwean youth who are being deported from the UK after being involved in even petty crimes like shoplifting. Families are being separated this way. Instead of addressing issues of discipline in our youth, instead of confronting a system that tells our children they can call a number if they are smacked at home and has already taken it for granted that African parents are abusive, we toss our own values aside and are out there making noises about racism and deflecting from some of our own shortcomings.

Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating for beating up children. Let me hasten to point out that in Zimbabwean society, confrontation between student and school staff rarely get to the stage depicted in the video clip. That is because Zimbabwean children are brought up to respect their elders. This is what we should be advocating for, instead of taking this opportunity to whinge and rant about racist the west is. We should have the confidence to articulate in the public space an approach to discipline that has produced respectful, courteous people, whatever their background. There are many British people who would be inclined to agree with such an approach, but are afraid to take the initiative for fear of the proverbial race card backlash. As it is, being a well-behaved Black child is considered "acting white." Except of course, the British on the Left, who have been absolved of racism, even as they herd Black children about with a network of social workers and other "experts." (Creating jobs, funded by the taxpayer)

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