by Khanyile Mlotshwa
A CARTOON depicting two scantily dressed young women engaged in a conversation suggesting that for young girls in Matabeleland and Midlands, prostituting one’s body is an alternative to education has been described as “un-Zimbabwean and abominable”.
Speaking to journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club on Monday evening, a descendant of the last Ndebele king, King Lobengula, Zwide Khumalo, said the cartoon published in the Chronicle last week was an “insult to women and Ndebele people”.
“As Zimbabweans, we should change our attitudes and respect each other and uphold value systems such as gender and nationhood,” he said.
Khumalo likened the “spirit behind the cartoon” to the spirit behind the Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s.
“We cannot be proud of being Zimbabweans when some of us selectively fuel tribalism and discrimination in the name of being part of the majority in Zimbabwe,” he said. “I am sure there are so many members of the so-called majority that do not subscribe to this horrible behaviour.”
When some journalists argued that the cartoon could be interpreted in many ways, Khumalo, shot back saying, “it’s not the business of Ndebeles or the women, who are affected to count the number of interpretations”.
“I am addressing the general interpretations picked by the people of Matabeleland,” he said. “That cartoon is abominable. The young Ndebeles in Matabeleland are unhappy. It’s not our responsibility to grope for interpretations.
“We are unhappy. The cartoon was wayward. It’s not about his surname. I don’t know him. I don’t need to know him. I don’t want to know him. Even if it was Ndabezinhle Khumalo, I would still be sitting here, saying what I am saying right now,” he said referring to the cartoonist.
When journalists pointed to the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) as an avenue to address such problems, Khumalo said the council’s processes were good for the media and “not necessarily for the angry people of Matabeleland”.
“We don’t solve our problems by running to someone in Harare,” he said. “Off course, the Chronicle apology was a good move.”
Popular French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has on several times been accused of crossing the line in its representation of ethnic minorities, particularly blacks and Muslims, leading to a shooting at the publication’s offices.
Recently, the magazine ran a cartoon that imagined Alan Kurdi, a three-year old Syrian, who died in the sea in September last year on his way to Europe, as an adult, depicting him as a groper and sexual abuser.
The cartoon was an attempt to satirise and mock claims that many assailants of sexual abuse in Germany were refugees, including Syrians.
However, a lot of people described the cartoon as racist and in bad taste.-AMH