Thursday, January 28, 2010

Matibe, author of "Madhinga Bucket Boy, land grabbed from black farmer.

Philemon Matibe's "Madhinga Bucket Boy" is the story of his struggle against a corrupt Zimbabwean government, even through his exile from the country. Matibe shared his experiences with a small group of listeners Monday night in the Nittany Lion Inn's alumni room.

Matibe began his talk by telling the room that he is a stateless refugee, demonstrating his point by passing out his expired Zimbabwean passport, which his home country refuses to renew.

He followed with the story of how he staged a small protest in front of then current President George W. Bush's house in Crawford, Texas, requesting that the United States immediately send fighter planes to bomb the house of Robert Mugabe, current president of Zimbabwe. Matibe was then told that the United States is no longer in the business of assassinating dictators.

Mugabe is the central focus of Matibe's current work and getting him out of power is the main theme of his talk.

Before he gave his reasons why, he gave an overview of Zimbabwe's history, from its colonial beginnings to current day. He gave an account of purposeful anthrax outbreaks, his thoughts on how the "Tarzan" films of the 1930s reinforced the colonist mentality, and how his ancestors funded, in part, the Rhodes Scholarship trust fund, all to illustrate how the ghosts of colonialism still haunt Zimbabwe.

Matibe's two-hour talk was full of information that shocked his listeners.

"It was eye-opening. I didn't know any of this," said Joan Ribbons, a State College resident. "It really makes me look at the Rhodes Scholarship differently now, almost like we're a part of his cause."

Matibe also briefly detailed four attempts on his life, saying that he was saved the fourth time because his would-be murderers could not get a phone signal, so they couldn't make the call to get the go-ahead to kill him.

A few of the people in attendance were also native Africans, and were especially interested in hearing what Matibe had to say.

"I'm from West Africa and I haven't really gotten a history of the region," Sika Abbey (sophomore-division of undergraduate studies) said. "It was just amazing to hear from someone who's been through all of that."
Even though he said Zimbabwe's past is dark, Matibe ended his talk on a hopeful note.

"I was almost killed by Zimbabweans, and I was saved by Zimbabweans," he said. "That's why I can tell you, Mugabe's days are numbered."


Mob seizes land of anti-Mugabe black farmer.

THE first black commercial farmer to become a target of President Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe has had his farm illegally seized and his livelihood destroyed after he stood as an opposition candidate in parliamentary elections.

Philemon Matibe, 33, was ordered off his farm by an 80-strong mob, led by the district administrator and four policemen. He accused the authorities of ruining him in retaliation for his prominence in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Mr Matibe unsuccessfully contested the seat of Chegutu for the MDC in elections last June. He lived on Paar farm in the constituency, 70 miles west of Harare, until he was forced to flee with his family last Thursday. Mr Matibe said: "I've lost everything overnight. Everything I worked for all my life has disappeared."

Christopher Shumba, the district administrator, arrived on Paar farm at the head of a convoy of five vehicles and ordered the Matibe family to leave "forthwith". Plots of land were immediately handed out to 40 people, many of them known supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Mr Matibe has learnt that his homestead will be given to a senior officer in the air force. Paar has never been listed for seizure by the government and its acquisition is illegal.

Mr Matibe has been forced to move into temporary accommodation in Chegutu with his wife, Pearl, their daughter, Phoebe, eight, and son, Mpho, three. The 80 people who worked on the farm have also been rendered homeless and jobless, as have their families.

Mr Matibe believes that Mr Mugabe is using his land grab to reward supporters and punish opponents. He said: "Mugabe goes to the outside world and lies to them that land reform is about helping the landless. The message I'm getting is that land is for Zanu-PF supporters, not for Zimbabweans. Mugabe says he is taking land from the whites and giving it to blacks. I'm as black as he is. Now he is taking land from some blacks and giving it to the blacks who support him." About five per cent of Zimbabwe's 4,000 commercial farms are owned by blacks.

Mr Matibe once grew 1,600 acres of tobacco, wheat and soya beans and was a successful entrepreneur. He was trained at Lackham College of Agriculture in Wiltshire and worked as a tractor driver for Lord Rothschild at West Stowell farm on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire in 1989.

Webster Shamu, the Zanu-PF MP for Chegutu, defeated Mr Matibe at the last election after a violent campaign. Zanu-PF mobs imposed no-go areas and were responsible for numerous assaults. Mr Matibe's wife and mother were both accosted by gangs and threatened with death and mutilation, as were the families of many opposition candidates.

But Mr Matibe has challenged his electoral defeat in the High Court and the case will be heard in the next fortnight. He said: "This is why they have taken my farm now. My problems stem from the fact that I have refused to withdraw my petition, despite Shamu's demands that I do so. Shamu is behind all of this." Asked to comment, Mr Shamu said: "I don't discuss that matter."


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