Doris Lessing On Mugabe

Doris Lessing just won the Nobel Prize for Literature–you can view her unscripted reaction to the news here. She wrote a piece in 2003 about Robert Mugabe that I found online at an African website–here`s a sample:

In fact, “our customs” are strongly valued when they have to do with the subjection of women. The law of the land may say one thing on paper- Zimbabwe`s early Marxist phase, as in other Communist countries, imposed many kinds of equality. But “our customs” still make sure that a woman has no right to the money she has earned, or to her children. She is her husband`s vassal. When Mugabe was met at the airport by hand-clapping and kowtowing maidens, and he was criticised (in the early days) for this sign of backwardness, the reply was “it is our custom.”

A man in a three-piece suit, in a government job, will still beat his wife-or try to; the women are fighting back. And he will consult soothsayers and shamans. Superstition still rules. It is “our custom” to look for the evil eye when a family member gets sick or a cow falls lame and then pay the witch doctor to exact revenge. It is becoming “our custom” to try to find virgin partners if you are HIV-positive, for to have sex with them will cure you of AIDS. (AIDS has spread widely in Zimbabwe.) The use of human parts in medicine goes on; it is the custom.The Jewel of Africa