Imagine a world without humour. Think of a continent without a humour-meister like Robert Mugabe (in power). For close to four decades, Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe after wrestling the reins from Rhodesia’s Ian Smith at the close of the 70s following the latter’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI).
He did so while applying the rat sense. House rats are known to gnaw at the heels of their victims (almost to the bones) in their sleep without as much as waking them up.
They achieve this by blowing cool air on the targets the moment the preys stir in their sleep, thus preventing them from waking up.
For so many years, Mugabe ruled Zimbabweans with an iron fist and soothed their pains with humour until a couple of days ago when he was eased out of power in a palace putsch. The late Fela Anikulapo Kuti also had the Zimbabweans in mind when he described Nigerians as “Suffering and Smiling”!
I have been a close follower of Mugabe’s humorous odyssey because wittiness has been part of me and it rubs off my writing. In fact, you can’t fully engage my maximum attention with your narratives if they are not oiled with humour.
My humour mongering got to a state that I became a laughing stock, so to speak, wherever I went in Jos. I had maintained a weekly humour column in the Sunday Standard at about the time that Mugabe emerged on the scene as the new face of Zimbabwe in the 80s.
One afternoon, I went to see the branch manager of the defunct Bank of the North situated along Ahmadu Bello Way, Jos. He was with a friend when I was ushered into his office. The moment he sighted me, he leaned forward and burst into a convulsive laughter. I looked behind me to see if something funny had followed me into his office. I was alone! Momentarily, I wondered almost aloud: “When have I become a laughing stock?!”
After pumping the wind out of his lungs, the manager, a Tiv, leaned back on his chair and said to his friend: “You see this man and his bushmeat exploits in his column, eh!”
We all shared a laugh. Nothing else catches the attention of a Tiv than bushmeat!
Another drama occurred when I went to negotiate the purchase of a desktop computer with the managing director of KASCO Scientific Agency, Mr. Kayode Adeluyi, whose office was located along Murtala Mohammed Way, Jos. He too was with some friends when I stepped into his office. I could sight all his (32) teeth as he dissolved into a prolonged laughter. While pumping hands, he told his guests: “Here is the funniest man south of the Sahara!”
No leader south of Africa could rival Mugabe in the realm of wits and humour (some of them diabolical). The ubiquitous social media was very handy for him as an effective instrument.
Today, we shall revisit some of his notable wisecracks:
“Respect pregnant women, for it is not easy to carry around evidence of sex in public.”
“Kenyans are good runners because corruption is always chasing them.”
“Whenever things seem to start going well in your life, the devil always comes along and gives you a ‘girlfriend’.”
“If you are a married man and you find yourself attracted to school girls, just buy your wife a school uniform.”
“Virginity is the best wedding gift any man would receive from his newly-wed wife but lately, there’s nothing as such any longer because it’ll have already been given out as a birthday gift, token of appreciation, job assurance, church collection, examination marking schemes and for lorry fares!”
“Cigarette is a pinch of tobacco rolled in a piece of paper with fire on one end and a fool on the other end.”
“Sometimes you look back at girls you spent money on rather than send it to your mum and you realise witchcraft is real.”
“If President Barack Obama wants me to allow marriage for same-sex couples in my country (Zimbabwe), he must come here so that I marry him first.”
“Even Satan was not a gay; he approached unclad Eve instead of unclad Adam. So, no to same-sex marriage.”
“Being dumped by a dark-skinned girl is the worst thing ever; because anytime you sight charcoal, you become emotional.”
“Don’t fight even over girlfriends. The country is full of beautiful women. If you can’t get one, come to Mugabe for assistance.”
“How do you convince the upcoming generation that education is key to success when we are surrounded by poor graduates and rich criminals?”
“Only God who appointed me will remove me”.
“The Commonwealth is a mere club, but it has become like an ‘Animal Farm’ where some members are more equal than others. How can Blair claim to regulate and direct events and still say all of us are equals?”
“Our economy is a hundred times better than the average African economy. Outside South Africa, what country is (as good as) Zimbabwe? What is lacking now are goods on the shelves; that is all.
“It is not possible that women can be at par with men.”
However, as smart and witty as Mugabe has been in the 93 years of his life, he lowered his guard for once and it cost him his presidency he had hoped to cling onto for life: Getting his wife, Grace, to be at par with men by scheming for her to succeed him as president! To achieve that goal, he fired Emmerson Mnangagwa, his second in command, a fellow liberation fighter and above all a crocodile. Crocks are not easy to deal with in and out of the river as the Mugabes soon found out, though late. That fatal gaffe caused him to tumble from GRACE (my emphasis) to grass.
What will continue to baffle yours truly for a very long time to come is how Mugabe, of all folks, who is respected worldwide for knowing women’s primordial antics in and out, could fail the critical test set by his wife.
Delilah is on my mind! Now that he is out of power, he would find time to read about how a woman precipitated the fall of the world’s strongest man that ever lived, Samson. Those who still believe that women are the weaker sex should have a rethink. For, what they lack in physical strength is compensated for by their uncanny ability to use their number six to put any man down without having to throw a punch.
The one to fear after God is a woman.
Surely, the whole world will miss Mugabe’s jokes served from his Olympian height. Humour-mongering is to him what tweeting is to Trump.