Black film-maker frozen in colonial bondage: Part Two

3
1244

By Mashingaidze Gomo

THERE are many things that don’t tally in Tapiwa’s story and the picture she paints translates to a naive and stubborn denial of a stubborn reality.
When Tapiwa Chipfupa made the documentary: The Bag on my Back in 2012, Zimbabwe was 32 and she was 35 and she was calling Harare ‘Salisbury’.
And she recited as if from a written script:
“It makes you want everything back
It’s like somebody stole time
It’s like you want to grow back
You want your family back
You want your parents back
You want your country back
You want your house back
You want your car back
But you can’t, because everything has changed.”
There is no recognition in Tapiwa that it is she who has stolen her own time in self-imposed exile. There is no recognition that her parents are to blame for the separation of the family and no one is stopping them from re-union. No one has taken their house from them, and they have rejected the country that is being given back to them. Even their colonial car is still there. It is really difficult to understand from whom she wants all these things.
It is even more difficult to understand why she continues to think that her mother, who abandoned her to slave for white people in the UK really loves her. This is a mother who is an illegal immigrant in a racist country that has for over a decade denied her citizenship.
This is a grandmother who is free to return home to a vacant house that is coming apart from neglect … a home in which she can raise her grandchildren among her kith and kin without fear of deportation. It is difficult to imagine an illegal African immigrant having such a big house in racist England. Or is this really their house?
Above all, it is difficult to understand what moral Tapiwa is using to blame Zimbabwe for her rejection by Britain.
If Tapiwa was only 3 years old at independence, that makes her too young to have the nostalgia she exhibits for Rhodesia. It is nostalgia that can’t be her own. One feels that it can only be a mercenary act, intended to buy her passage into England. Such nostalgia can only belong to a white master and she can only be a black medium pining for the cruel white master’s interests.
One familiar with Benjamin Freeth’s racist documentary film, Mugabe and the White African, or his BBC Hardtalk interviews could swear the whole script was written by the self-righteous white missionary who still thinks he can lecture dispossessed Africans on property rights.
Perhaps the saddest part of Tapiwa Chipfupa’s story is when she says: “We have lost what we were … what our identity was as a people all because we think it is our right. A right doesn’t mean you have the ability to take care of something. What a waste!”
These are words that seem to have been taken straight from Benjamin Freeth’s tongue and the black viewer must of necessity ask what identity the black man remained with after his land had been taken from him by white colonialists and inherited as property rights by the likes of Benjamin Freeth’s apartheid war criminal father-in-law, Mike Campbell.
In his 1974 speech in Australia, Chitepo quoted the identity conferred upon the black man by British historian Tony Bee: “When we Europeans call people natives, we take away anything from them; anything that suggests that they are human beings.
“They are to us like the forest which the western man fells down. Or, the big game that he shoots down. They have no tenure of land.
“Their tenure of land is as precaurious as that of the animals that they find. What shall we the lords of creation, the white people, do with the natives we find?
“Shall we treat them as vermin to be exterminated or shall we treat them as hewers of wood and drawers of water. There is no other alternative. It leaves us no choice.”
Chitepo proceeded to comment thus: “This actually comes from a quotation from Tony Bee’s study of history. It indicates the sort of mental outlook that those who settled in our country have had about us. We were a natural resource for exploitation. The same as the trees, the same as the grass, the gold mines, the gold underground, the same as the wood… Everything! Just a natural resource!
And, this is the sought of mental outlook that we are dealing with in Zimbabwe. The outlook of the white man who comes to settle there to regard us in status as a natural resource available for exploitation.’
It is the very attitude white Benjamin Freeth brings with him when he comes to settle in Zimbabwe. His argument against black empowerment through redistribution of land is framed in the words: ‘If they (black people) do not work for us (white people), whom do they work for?’
And, Tapiwa’s documentary in every sense confirms that this is the identity she and her parents have accepted with the tragic pride of house niggers. When the chance to be their own masters through repossession of land dispossessed from their black ancestors comes, they follow the defeated Rhodesians back to England in order to continue to slave for them. And, no amount of racial rejection from them is enough to open Tapiwa’s parents’ eyes to the reality of their situation.
To be continued …

3 COMMENTS

  1. Britain a racist country? It is Zimbabwe who is the racist country. No only against the white Zimbabweans but very much against black Zimbabweans if they don’t obey the orders of Zanu PF. They are the ones that were murdered in the period of 1982 – 1984 (20.000) and later the farm workers, thousands were killed. How many Zimbabweans are murdered in Britain? By the police! NONE.

  2. Where Chitepo quotes “Tony Bee” in his Study of History, he’s referring to Arnold Toynbee. I have to tell you straight up that this is a fraudulent quote. For your, or Chitepo’s, information, this is not how Toynbee wrote or thought. It’s the equivalent of fake news, and I suppose now we’ll have to watch this fake quote circle the globe on the internet. In fact if you want to read one of Toynbee’s extraordinary scathing attacks on white racism, there’s a hundred-page chapter on this subject in the very first volume of his (unabridged, 12-volume) Study of History.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here