Petina Gappah has a few choice words, or barbs you might call them, for South African President Thabo Mbeki, in the online section of the new and improved Granta website. No one needs reminding that Mbeki has been playing his tired old role, as an unmoving supporter of Zimbabwe's despot Robert Mugabe. In the South African leader's words, there is no crisis in the land of Zim. Is Mbeki living on this same planet, I hear you ask? Apparently not. Anyway, whatever the cause of the strange affliction somewhat akin to blindness, Gappah reminds Mbeki of a few chinks eating away at his own psyche's armour - as we would say in Naija, she showed him the holes in his trousers - then she tells him to bugger off and help elsewhere. Super.
Excerpt from An Open Letter to Thabo Mbeki
If I may digress a little, Mr Mbeki, it is not far from many people’s minds that you rather envy Mr Mugabe. Only your country’s iron-clad constitution, its tight bonds to international capital, its vigilant and frankly rabid press, and the naked ambition of the men and women around you prevent you from embracing the joys of geriatric dictatorship. You cannot be Mr Mugabe, Mr Mbeki, but you have been his body man and his handmaid. You have aided him in his misrule, you have provided cover for him before the world, you have blocked the will of the majority of Zimbabweans who have a different vision for their country.
You are human, Mr Mbeki, and are therefore prey to the resentments and obstinacies that plague the mere mortal. There was that HIV-does-not-cause-Aids brouhaha, wasn’t there, and the whole ARV saga, where you had to cave in to pressure and go along with a policy you did not support. Then there is the more recent Polokwane putsch by ballot – democracy is a bitch, isn’t it, Mr Mbeki? You are probably still seething because Jacob Zuma, a man whom you consider unfit to govern, may very soon move into the seat you currently occupy in Union Building. And of course, there are those unflattering comparisons to your predecessor, Nelson Mandela. History has wedged you between a saint and a satyr, Mr Mbeki; it must be really hard to be you.
What a splendid insult! Petina Gappah's open letter recalls Shailja Patel's one to another dastardly fellow during the recent Kenya crisis.
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