Bye Bye Mugabe

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Piling on Mugabe: A Better Metaphor

Piling on Mugabe: A Better Metaphor

~ By Rudolph Lewis
The Publisher/Editor of Chickenbones

Ablorh, you're probably right. I don't know. You're probably much more informed about the African situation than I, and more specifically the Zimbabwe dilemma. I'm being rather intuitive about the whole situation. My tendency is to grant Mugabe the utmost respect and dignity for his past sacrifices, regardless of his errors. I have heard arguments on both sides from both black and white. Those arguments opposed to Mugabe have been mostly absurd and mostly racist (coming from the USA and the UK). One Zimbabwean detractor said that they were better off under Ian Smith! That's how far his detractors have gone.

I am not opposed to criticism of Mugabe. Read the short story by Zimbabwe: In The House of Stone by Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima, which deals with the out-migration to South Africa. I cannot/will not deny any of the problems of Zimbabwe, though many of them are common to other African nations. But Mugabe detractors try to make them peculiar to Zimbabwe. I have heard them on BBC, radio, TV, online.

For me the worst mismanagement of an African nation occurs in Sudan. I have yet to hear the kind of vilification of Bashir from Washington and London that I hear about Mugabe on media outlets from those countries, especially the BBC. For me there is something wrong with that picture, sadly wrong. And as long as Bashir remains sitting pretty in eyes from those capitols, there will be no shaming of Mugabe coming from me.

I have no problem with your baseball metaphor. You use it however inappropriately. Mugabe is not a pitcher to be yanked out of a game; he is the manager, more, the CEO of the team, responsible to his corporate investors, in this case the Zimbabwe people. Your metaphor, for me, indicates to me how the man as head of state has been diminished in the popular press.

My metaphor comes from football. The player stumbles and falls and his opponents though he is down piles on. Maybe I am being perverse here and argumentative to no end. But I am being sincere, and possibly excessively sentimental. I'm willing to allow the Zimbabweans to work out their problems. It is within reach. But certainly I will not be adding to Western anti-Mugabe propaganda, even if means I lose every friend and associate I have.

Mugabe is fighting back, admirably. Read his UN Speech (President Robert G. Mugabe's UN Speech), possibly he is headed toward martyrdom. If it must be, let it be. But I know such hatred. It reminds me very much of that which was leveled on MLK while he lived. His detractors from all quarters were just as unfair and envious as those we have today with Mugabe. They wanted him to step down. They offered him a college presidency, all kinds of goodies. And when he continued to resist, they assassinated him.

That looks to me what some Western nations desire, are prompting, and some of their black stooges will love it too and when he is dead they will cry their crocodile tears and build a monument in his name. Such too was the case with Nkrumah.

Jane Musoke-Nteyafas on Professor Rudolp Lewis:
First published: April 18, 2006

For those with an interest and involvement in the writing and publishing industry, especially when it comes to black culture, his name would be familiar. Rudolph Lewis is one of the hardest working, dedicated and respected men in the online publishing world. Yet very little is known about his personal life. He is the editor and founder of Chickenbones: A Journal for Literary and Artistic African-American Themes ( This is an educational web site which explores black culture with the aims of uplifting and educating black people as well as non black people about black culture.

Initiated in the fall of 2001, Chickenbones: A Journal has accumulated a faithful following of readers as well as a wide range of literary contributors from all over the world. In 2005, Chickenbones attracted about 5,000 visitors on a daily basis and is already exceeding 1 million visitors for the year 2006. This is a meteoric rise from 2003 when traffic included about 500,000 visitors. Chickenbones has produced and featured the works of several celebrated and new writers including Kalamu Ya Salaam, Amiri Baraka, Zora Neale Hurston, Askia Touré, Niyi Osundare, Latorial Faison, Lasana Sekou, Ras Baraka, DB Cox, Stacey Tolbert, Nicholas Berdyaev, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Kola Boof,Danyel Smith, Yambo Ouologuem, Claire Carew and Drisana Deborah Jack to mention a few. Chickenbones is in short, a national treasure.

Behind all that work is Rudolph Lewis. Lewis is a prolific writer of the Black Arts Movement generation. He is the author of numerous essays, poems, interviews and articles for various journals. He has also done editorial jobs with positions such as the editor of I Am New Orleans & Other Poems by Marcus Bruce Christian. New Orleans: Xavier Review Press, 1999, Editorial Assistant Labor's Heritage, Spring 1997. Contributing Editor The New Laurel Review, Spring/Fall 1984; Spring/Fall 1987 Editor (& Founder) CRICKET: Poems and Other Jazz. New Orleans, 1985.

Literature has always been a part of his life. Lewis was also an English and Literature instructor at the following institutions: Coppin State College, University of New Orleans, Northeast Louisiana University, and the University of District of Columbia. He has in addition reviewed several books and performed interviews with notable writers such as Yusef Komunyakaa. Yet despite all this, he has never been interviewed in any literary magazine. So it was a great pleasure to be able to pay homage to this illustrious writer/poet/editor/publisher and instructor by interviewing him and getting his readers and supporters to know more about the amazing presence behind Chickenbones. He shared several things with me; among them, his love for New Orleans, the origins of Chickenbones, his relationship with several historic icons and his beautiful poetry on women.

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