Saturday, 18 April 2009

Mr K.G, The Kids Were Thrilled

Mapquest is wonderful if you are in the USA where roads and streets run north-west and east-west. If you are lost, keep on driving because you will come to a highway that will take you to a road to your destination. In London, Mapquest is almost worthless. I found that out three Saturdays ago.

Mr KG invited us to a braai in west London. “Look,” I had said to Mr KG, “I have four people coming along. Is it OK?”

“By all means, Doc, bring ‘em all,” said Mr KG in his quintessential Southern African drawl. “There will be enough sadza and nyama for everyone.”

Up M3, we drive from Soton, left into Beltway 25 then - wait a minute – they don’t call it a beltway. It is the London loop. That is it, yes, M25 is called a loop not a beltway. I’m kindda disappointed they don’t call it a beltway. It would be fun calling David Cameron, the Tory leader, Beltway Dave. He likes to call the British government all sorts of bad names but then cannot wait not only to join it but to lead it. Sounds to me like a shell game, but I digress.

“The map says go west on Exit 16,” orders the navigator.

“What was that? We should be going east,” I protest as I slow down the chuck wagon. I am trying to defy the orders of the navigator but the driver of the car behind us decides to conspire against me. He blasts his horn. It is irritating so I have to comply with the navigator’s command.

We soon find ourselves headed straight to Birmingham. That is where Exit 16 takes you when you go west on M40. Doggamit, them British roads! If you follow the wrong exit, you have to drive to the next town before you can loop your way back into the highway. My crew and I find ourselves driving west, on M40, towards Birmingham instead of east into west London. At last we find a roundabout and do a hairpin turn as we head east towards west London.

The navigator is getting irritated. Everyone else is making fun of him. He is a teenager and he does not like to have his feathers raffled. Teenagers are a curious breed. They think they know everything and when they are proven wrong, their first response if that of anger – I know a few grownups who are like that, too.

“Why are we going to London anyhow?” the navigator sneers at me like a modern-day Tomás de Torquemada. I am forced to endure a verbal waterboarding. The navigator is taking his fury on me. You see, I am what they call a soft target.

“We are going to meet some Rhodesians.”

Aha! I have hit the mother lode. My passengers are suddenly curious, very curious. All four of them were all born after 1980 and they had never seen a "Rhodesian" all their lives. Through ZTV and The Herald, they have heard a lot about "Rhodesians" and how evil they are. To my four passengers, "Rhodesians" might as well have been some frightening monsters.
Anyway, we get lost a number of times but eventually reach our destination.

Boy, is my crew surprised when we finally meet our host and his friends. My crew does not see any monsters, contrary to the image that had been painted for them since childhood. Mr KG and his friends call my crew The Kids. Well, the kids are taught target shooting. Within minutes, just like that, they are hitting the bull’s-eye and knocking tin cans like its second nature.

No! They are not being trained to be Selous Scouts. They are just kids having fun and if anyone insists otherwise, we will meet in court for character defamation and preventing kids from their natural rights to enjoy life. It is early London spring and as the sun buries itself in the belly of the earth, it gets nippy. I huddle by the heater but the kids are too excited to feel the London evening chill.

“Vanhu vaye vari bho manje,” says the navigator on our way back home. Like the other kids, he is atwitter with joy. They all agree that Mr KG and his friends are wonderful. When I tell them a “Rhodesian” cooked the sadza they ate, I witnessed the cooking act, they are as impressed as I was. It was cooked village-style.

The kids realize there is more that binds Zimbabweans to “Rhodesians” than divide them. I wanted to disabuse the kids of the notion Zimbabweans of European ancestry and indigenous Zimbabweans are different from each other. We are one people despite the political noise back home that says otherwise. I could have quoted Dr Martin Luther King; judge a man by the content of his character not the colour of his skin. The kids would have listened more out of respect than anything else then dismiss my words as meaningless abstractions of a man who likes to read too many fangled books. I wanted them to have first-hand experience of what Dr King was advocating.

“Mission accomplished,” I silently say to myself. All the kids have become ardent proponents of America’s Second Amendment, too. They cannot wait to have an encore.

Mr KG, the kids were thrilled.