This ewe black elite were actually new comers who had migrated from the bush straight to higher office. The transition was fast and furious. They had received no mentoring or capacity building on how to run a modern economy. Some were still wearing khakis and safaris when they were posted into ministerial positions. Many of their policy choices and executive decisions were based on socialist ideals and also on guesswork, particularly where socialism failed to proffer direct answers. One minister joked that leading a country needed only common-sense. Howbeit in subsequent years after independence common sense proved to be a rare commodity.
Somehow they were also allergic to sober advice thus confirming the age-old saying that the fly that refused to heed sound advice followed the corpse into the grave. The nation witnessed the ugly consequences as it drifted into the abyss. The first outcry from students was around the one-party state doctrine espoused by the new black regime. Students felt that such an arrangement would bring a stultifying piquancy to the Zimmermann political body politic. A healthy diversity was a necessity. Students persistently advised the nation to be always on the alert.
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On one extreme end lay maverick, wild, volcanic and chaotic leaders such as Arthur Mutable, Demimondaines Chinook, Unmarried Assai, Lawrence Charred aka “Warlord” or “King Amputating Ill”, Paul Chamois, Ammunition, Nixon Annoying aka “General Mao”, Gabriel Samba aka “Marcher”, Silicone Resurgence, Job Shall and to some extent Jotter “Blockade” (come down lets fight)Muff. These leaders love them or hate them, were quite titillating. They had a number of rivets in their intellectual bearings which needed rigorous tightening. They were crowd pullers and scintillating speakers.
They read radical books from Mao TTS Tong, Chew Guava, Fidel Castro, Malcolm X to Karl Marx. They believed that the University of Zanzibar had the highest concentration of the nation’s brighter brains. They did not care about Robert Manage, the CIO or the police. They were in their own republic where each man had to do according to his unbridled and intemperate desire. Arthur Intramural can be credited for thwarting the one party state dream of Robert Manage. He violently protested together with Edgar Taker, Massage’s former friend and Morgan Disadvantaging, who was then with the labor event Zanzibar Congress of Trade Unions (CUT).
A one-party state agenda would have stifled or choked the Zimmermann political landscape of the much needed miscellany and political aroma. Arthur Mutable also became the ‘watchman’ of the nation warning it against the tidal wave of corruption. This consequently resulted in the Sandra Commission being put in place by the then Prime Minister Robert Manage. It became clear that a battalion of cabinet ministers were involved in the Willow Vale and Willow Gate car schemes and scum for personal gain. They resigned masses upon Ewing exposed.
William Shakespeare once said “madness in great ones must not unwatched go”. For Arthur Mutable the message was clear: Premiers and presidents of nations should acquit themselves of any unscrupulous activities. More so, they should never be held hostage by weak, corrupt and incapable ministers. As students they were duty bound, whenever they saw something good or bad, to narrate it like traditional town cries. Arthur Mutable believed that Cabinet ministers must choose whether they want to be public servants or fully-fledged business men.
He voiced trepidations bout the new ruling black elite on the continent and that Africa was fast becoming tired of hyenas which adorn themselves in sheep’s and shepherd’s clothing. Some of the ministers were swimming in government tenders and acquisitions forgetting that they are in fact public servants who should dispense good governance and strategic leadership to the nation. As folk wisdom affirms the hyena which tried to walk on two roads ultimately developed banana legs. If one is roasting two potatoes, one of them is bound to get charred. So they had to choose what suited them best. He argued that
Cabinet ministers in any society are supposed to be active agents and catalysts of the development process. They are expected to be well-informed, creative and innovative thinkers who should provide strategic foresight and direction rather than being an agglomeration of “yes-men” and “figureheads” to the executive. The ferocious students voiced that the practice of catapulting and parachuting individuals into ministerial appointments, individuals who have not yet proved themselves worthy in life, places the destiny of a nation into the hands of delicate, reckless and oftentimes unstable hands.
War credentials alone, whilst noble and admirable are not the only credentials to benchmark with when selecting ministers. This fuels the emergence of the much dreaded “cheeks” (blood sucking tick) syndrome in most African parliaments and cabinets. This “cheeks syndrome in turn feeds on “undergoing” (let it only be me) mindset and the “undergoing” mentality gives birth to “naif” (greed). And greed is a cancerous phenomenon which brings down an economy overnight. From cape to Cairo the phenomenon Of ‘naif’ has proved to be a stubborn weevil eating away our economies like a veldt fire.
It is always the masses who end up being taken for granted and treated as dogs. Dogs just tolerate crumbs because there is no option. Dogs do not actually prefer bones to meat; it is just that no one ever gives them meat. Arthur Mutable and later other leaders such as Brian Agro, Dew Mapping and Fortune Mugging advocated for relevance in parliament and that parliamentarians should not go to parliament simply because they are unemployed or because they went to war? They articulated that the state is not some inexhaustible and infinite milking cow where every opportunist must suck like a “cheeks”!
Going to reliant, they argued is not a marriage affair bound by the “till-death-do- us-apart” vows! Non-performers must be frog-marched out. A good number of them (politicians) were now spending time partying and procuring expensive costumes and outfits at a time when their respective departments and ministries were yearning for sound and impeccable leadership. Others were now occupying headlines and front pages of newspapers for wrong reasons. The student leaders advocated rigorous refresher courses for politicians enlighten them on good governance, policy mandates, roles and responsibilities as public servants.
They needed to be taught public ethics, strategic leadership and constituent management otherwise they would end up, to use Charles Mussolini’s metaphor, like mischievous ‘milkmen’ who, instead of delivering milk they start unconsciously peddling twists and spirals of Mbabane and impregnating maids in the neighborhoods. Other student leaders such as Gabriel Samba, Nixon Annoying, Lawrence Charred and Silicone Resurgence failed to complete their studies because of constant deferrals, banishment and summary dismissals by the government-influenced disciplinary hearing committees of the universities.
They literally became perennial students who could not finish their degree programs. Arthur Mutable had the double barreled aptitude to take to politics the way a duck takes to water and the ability to take his studies by the jugular vein. He was the sophisticated eagle which could flex its muscles and tighten its grip on its prey whilst other student leaders were overtaken by the enthusiasm and specter of turning the University of Zanzibar into a warned. Some leaders such as Silicone Resurgence became mere dust peddlers at a monkey dance.
Christopher Gaga, Fortune Mugging, Brian Agro, Learner Jonnie, Taker Shanghai and Death Mapping were more on the level headed category. Christopher Gaga was intelligent and sober. When he spoke people would naturally listen. He had impeccable leadership abilities. You could see ministerial, if not presidential, deportment and etiquette in the man. He, it appears lacked skin thick enough to insulate himself as he was swimming with political crocodiles. He died in what some analysts termed ‘an orchestrated car incident masquerading as an accident’.
All fingers were pointing at sections within government who were impervious o a goulash Of diverse opinions, which phenomenon the late proof Musical Systole, a political scientist popularly labeled as ‘lacking a culture of critical discourse’ (CDC). Fortune Mugging was a lovable and humble student leader. Many viewed him as a humble and contrite leader, simmering and festering with the kind of contrition which could easily have earned him spiritual candidature for pastoral work in any denominational-scum-Pentecostal arrangement or establishment.
Unlike Gabriel Samba, Nixon Annoying and Silicone Regenerating were political gladiators of the ‘demon from the assert outfit’, Fortune Mugging wore the face of a humble shepherd. He deplored outright ‘jambalaya’ (violence) against the post-independence black government in favor of a culture of critical and robust engagement. Fortune Mugging always won his terms as President of the students union with a slim majority. Students of the drunkard type (oceanography) treated him with distrusting uncertainty. He was a staunch Christian of the Pentecostal aroma.
He belonged to the ‘Singapore Chapel’ (the chapel group). Hopelessly frequented the university chapel for spiritual guidance. This side of him was insider as a weakness and an element of passivity and inertia in a context which needed nothing short of a revolution of the jambalaya type. It is this perceived civilization of university students’ politics which always cost him a huge chunk of the drunkard students’ vote come election time. Learner Gong-v. We exhibited the ingredients of a future president of the ‘philosopher- King’ order.
He was convincing, eclectic, and mercurial. He was a fluent orator. Humor and satire became the palm-oil with which he ate his speeches. He was young shrewd and a man of influence. Rising from the vagaries and letches of Zoomed and its rural poverty Learner Jonnie had blended well with Hare as if he had been born there. He read much and had a sharp memory. He was good at multi-tasking. One day at Crowner Plaza Hotel he took to the podium: ‘l am honored to engage in this debate with the Honorable Edison Gobo, a Harvard trained lawyer and Minister-without- Portfolio.
In other words all the relevant and available ministries had been allocated already, nonetheless His Excellence the President felt it proper, in his mighty wisdom or lack of it, to make my leaned colleague here a minister anyhow… The entire floor erupted into volcanic laughter. Unfortunately, Learner later died in very murky circumstances entrenched in infidelity, wife’s murder, suicide in jail and political chicanery. The true story, many believe, is yet to be told. Jotter ‘Blockade’ Muff was articulate and had positioned himself as the self-imposed mouthpiece of the Indelible People at the University of Zanzibar.
He was quite politically amphibious vacillating between the sober elements and the acerbic ones. He also took the opportunity to highlight the bigger normalization issues bedeviling the Maintainable region, where he hailed from. Seizure supremacists such as Isaiah Prosper hated Jester’s ethnic inclination and his perceived tribulations of university politics. This perception cost him presidency of the Student Representative Council (ISRC). He narrowly failed to make it as vice-president of the ISRC. He had 16 votes less than Nixon ‘Mao’ Annoying, and a civil war broke out on campus.
In October of 1997 Jotter invited Dry John Makeup, Ben Healthcare and Siphon Mauling to a Maintainable Development Society meeting to commemorate the death of Sydney Mauling. The response from students was tremendous and Lecture Theatre 400, where the meeting was led, was full to the brim. Nevertheless, he continued playing the role of student activist albeit with a wounded pride. Jotter is, perhaps admired as an intellectual dissident. He read widely and wildly. He wore an awkward and obdurate carpet of long beard.
He kept portraits of Dumbfound Marcher, Karl Marx, Marcus Graver, Bob Marled, Chew Guava, and a plethora of other radical thinkers whom he considered revolutionary. Since was close to him and a university contemporary and close confidante several university lecturers occasionally called me to protest the somewhat emergence of apocalyptic and cataclysmic rhetoric and phraseology in his class assignments and essays. At one time he appeared to be at permanent odds with everyone and everything. He would walk and talk combatively typical of an aggrieved activist. Speculation and gossip abounded about the exact source of his anger.
Lecturers were now worried that the intrusion of Malcolm X, George Padre, Walter Rodney, Martin Luther King among other thinkers into Jester’s philosophical bearings had fast radicalized his world. When he started expressing religious interest in extreme Islamic outfits there were shivers in the corridors. Unsounded caution. I was convinced that Jester’s voracious appetite for wild and unbridled learning would dissipate eventually in the process of time. The man was still discovering himself and the world around him. More so, he was a good student of drama and masquerade.
I secretly knew that he, at times, was so good with theatrics dressed in jeans and khakis of seriousness and belligerency. One time Jotter and I were given a tender to come up with a student Drama on HIVE and Aids on campus. Dry George Madeira, then Dean of students put an impeccable goodwill word on us before the tender adjudication committee. We gingerly embroiled friends and hostel-mates, faculty members, poets and actors. We shot and produced a highly creative and intriguing HIVE and Aids video called Getting Real. The Video was to be used as part of first year students’ orientation week upon arrival on campus.
We were paid handsomely by the students’ affairs department for a job well done. Jotter, pretending that we had not been paid, later arranged a meeting with all the participants where he harangued them on the importance of doing such initiatives as this one for community service. He hurled supporting quotations from Fidel Castro, Chew Guava and Malcolm X to scare the crap out of the poor students who were expecting a few dollars for their pious and virtuous contributions. He ceremonies the group about the gallantry and graciousness of being a good academic Samaritan.
They left the meeting honored and esteemed whilst he left the meeting smiling all the way to the bank. Minutes later Jotter and I were in a taxi going to the Book Cafe towards the city center where we were to eat one of our best meals in a long time. Later we sneaked into some Afro shop where we bought each a pair of dashiki shirts from East Africa. The Vision edition of April 1 998 described Job Shall as one of the most influential personalities at the University of Zanzibar campus during the 1996-1999 periods. He was no doubt another interesting character. He had the uncanny ability to make people laugh without making effort to be funny.
His strong booming voice, which he never hesitated to use at its full potential even when speaking to a friend at arm’s length and his ability to spice up the truth almost convincingly, won him a place in the hearts of many first year students. It is rumored that Job Shall inspired the notorious Bungled, the arm of mainly first year male students and lecturers from lectures with the use of bricks, catapults and sticks. Shall however failed to make it to the place of president of the Students Representative Council (ISRC), getting the lowest number of votes among the four candidates who were vying the post.
He had 349 votes out of a total of 2835 votes cast, which is 12. 3% of votes. Commence ‘Sister Coke’ Machine was another fascinating female figure. There had been one or two women in the ISRC before but no one can recall there ever being a woman voted to the post of Secretary General. For many ladies n campus Machine represented femininity that had broken into the male dominated circus of campus politics. Her campaign brought many usually apathetic and dispirited female students out of their rooms on poll day to cast their votes.
A number of traditionally chauvinistic male students who were impressed by her determination and courage also put their ‘x’ next to her name. Strangely she was the shortest serving ISRC member. She unceremoniously resigned. Gabriel ‘Marcher’ Samba was suspended from the university in 1 995 for political reasons. Upon being readmitted in 1996 he was at it again politicking vigorously. He went on a one man hunger strike outside the parliament of Zanzibar and is alleged to have told authorities: ‘l may be short but my hunger is very tall! ‘Samba was unpredictable. He loved beer and had no interest in women.
He embarked on a late campaign for the ISRC presidency and appeared to be the lame duck but sprang a landslide triumph of 1 188 votes out of a total of 2835 voters, which is 41% of votes. Other student leaders came in the form of magazine editors and scribes. The dovish Percy Macomb and later the dramatic Sublimation (aka Dimply or Dimple)who edited Focus magazine which was funded by the Students Representative Council (ISRC). The quiet, antelope-like and shy Twists Measure and the surreptitious James Disenchanting edited Vision magazine to which regularly contributed in the form of poems, short stories and political opinion pieces.
Vision was supported logistically by father Engel Johnson, a benevolent but mysterious Jesuit priest who had a somewhat open door policy towards students. Wilson Munroe, the recluse, edited the The Informer, a tabloid type Of publication also assisted by Father Engel Johnson. Each issue of the Informer magazine was like a volcanic eruption. The gained poked many people right into their eyes. Job Shall labeled it ‘satanic’. The Informer declared war on everyone: students, the government, the police, the soldiers, nuns, priests, drunkards and Christians.
Each issue of The Informer left people more provoked than informed. It loved to throw dust in the air. It contained all unthinkable rot, gossip and debris from every university corner. It was the media dustbin of the university. Its editor belonged to the ‘we drink daily and pass annually hooligans’ aka ‘oceanography’ (drinkers club). That group was very mean and they did not are. Surprisingly, the majority of them were intellectual monsters and academic Godzilla churning out book prizes every year from their intellectual assembly lines.
The eccentric Mimosas, who was a medical student and the billion thin Giant, who was a zealous law student big heatedly belonged to this category of students. Wilson Munroe had a schnozzle for campus dirt, scandals, caricatures, fabrications, lampoons, in fact, all unthinkable yet newsy debris, which could sell the magazine. I edited Savannah literary magazine of the university of Zanzibar Creative Writers Association which published poetry, plays, short stories and modest opinion pieces around issues of national concern.
Felix Mauve Mutual, Patrick Panamanian Tulsa’ Manhunt, Phonies Changing, Williams Mochas, Thoracic Immigrant and Raymond Napoleon often contributed gorgeous and dazzling articles to Savannah. Some lecturers such as Maurice Fame contributed beautiful academic articles in the literary magazine Savannah. Drama lecturers such as FAKE Memorize and Owen Seed used to invite members of the University of Zanzibar Creative Writers Association to curtain-raise their functions with scintillating and sparkling poetry.
The biggest drawbacks for student politics were two-pronged. First, whilst it was true that the University of Zanzibar was the highest concentration of the nation’s brains it was unfair for student leaders at the university to marginality their counterparts from Hare polytechnic, Hare Institute Of Technology, Belvedere Teachers’ College, Bullyboy Polytechnic and a host of other tertiary institutions in the country. They regarded them as unlearned junior partners who were pursuing what they patronizing termed ‘courses with no arduous intellectual rigor.