Har­vest of Thorns Clas­sic: Cul­tural de­cay?

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

BEN­JAMIN sur­prises his mother Shamiso. He acts strangely at times such that his mother does not un­der­stand him. We saw him go­ing out as soon as he ar­rived back home from the war. He goes out for a beer drink with his crip­pled younger brother Peter to the dis­gust of his mother. Though Ben­jamin de­nies the re­spon­si­bil­ity of get­ting Peter drunk, it is quite clear that he was strictly to blame be­cause he took him there.

He comes back from the war hav­ing lost cul­tural val­ues. Ben­jamin shows lit­tle re­spect of his mother. Was the war re­spon­si­ble for this kind of be­hav­iour? Tra­di­tion­ally chil­dren are not sup­posed to an­swer back their par­ents. When Shamiso, Ben­jamin’s mother ac­cuses him with a fierce growl of mak­ing Peter drunk, Ben­jamin de­fi­antly puffs smoke in her di­rec­tion. Her mother em­phat­i­cally tells him not to smoke in her house.

Ben­jamin knows very well that as a Chris­tian, his mother is in­tol­er­ant to beer drink­ing and smok­ing. When his mother asks how Peter got into that drunken stu­por, Ben­jamin pre­tends not to know stat­ing that he is sur­prised as his mother. But, it is clear he knows ex­actly how Peter got drunk. He lies telling his mother that Peter was drink­ing coke with Mabeza’s young brother. Ben­jamin dis­re­spects his mother call­ing her, “Mai Tichafa.” Such an ad­dress shocks his mother.

All this is against tra­di­tion. It shows cul­tural de­cay. Are ex-com­bat­ants re­spon­si­ble for cul­tural deca­dency as dis­played by Ben­jamin? Shamiso is dev­as­tated by Ben­jamin’s un­to­ward be­hav­iour and she ap­peals to her daugh­ter-in-law, Nkazana, to lis­ten to Ben­jamin call­ing his mother, Mai Nhin­girikiri, Nhin­girikiri. Shamiso re­sponds to what Ben­jamin is say­ing it is all lies. That is all she has heard from him since he came back from wher­ever he was.

“I can­not un­der­stand your move­ments, Ben­jamin. You’ve been here two weeks now but you just come and go as if this were . . . some . . . kind of wait­ing room yepa train sta­tion. I haven’t had a sin­gle de­cent con­ver­sa­tion with you. You never say any­thing.” This is proof enough that there is ten­sion be­tween mother and son. If there has never been de­cent con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the two and Ben­jamin does not say any­thing, there­fore there is si­lence which is preg­nant with ten­sion.

Re­mem­ber we have al­ready got the im­pres­sion from Ben­jamin that his mother was against him go­ing for war. We are still to prove the truth of this. Ben­jamin is rude to his mother ask­ing her, “Do I al­ways have to tell you where I’m go­ing? I do not blame you for not want­ing me back here.” All is clear that Ben­jamin and his mother Shamiso are not get­ting along well. But as mother I be­lieve Shamiso had a right to know where her son was go­ing and she is right to re­mind that at least he should have in­formed his wife Nkazana.

Ben­jamin does not hes­i­tate to lie to his mother telling her that Nkazana knows where he was go­ing. Nkazana de­nies any knowl­edge of his go­ing out and com­ing in. Shamiso wants to keep the fam­ily united as she has done be­fore and re­minds Ben­jamin that peo­ple are watch­ing them and see­ing things hap­pen­ing. Ben­jamin chides his mother for ap­pear­ing to live her life for other peo­ple. He tells her that neigh­bours are all the peo­ple she has ever cared about.

He adds: “You seem to live your life for them. But when your rick­ety house comes crush­ing down on you it’s the same neigh­bours who gather to gloat over the ru­ins. Shamiso jus­ti­fi­ably re­bukes Ben­jamin telling him to stop preach­ing to him and she asks him what right he has to say any­thing against any­one telling that he knew very well that she was not re­spon­si­ble for the col­lapse of the house.

Next the dis­cus­sion takes a gen­der view. Ben­jamin says that a man is al­ways blamed when a mar­riage col­lapses. Shamiso in anger asks if Ben­jamin was de­fend­ing his fa­ther for the col­lapse of his fam­ily’s mar­riage. She asks if his fa­ther cared for him why he has not even come to see him since he came back.

Ben­jamin in­sists that his mother was re­spon­si­ble for the col­lapse of their mar­riage as she drove out his fa­ther. He states that his mother knew about that woman Muchaneta long be­fore she lured his fa­ther away. He claims his mother did not put up a fight and made his fa­ther think she did not care. How can a child in­volve him­self in the mar­riage feud of his par­ents? A re­spon­si­ble child does not in­volve him­self in the par­ents’ dis­putes.

I be­lieve Ben­jamin is un­cul­tured at this junc­ture. Shamiso’s re­sponse to these ac­cu­sa­tions by Ben­jamin goes on to re­veal how her fam­ily dis­in­te­grated. She asks what Ben­jamin wanted her to do. Fight an­other woman and turn her­self into the scan­dal of the town­ship? She asks Ben­jamin about him­self whether he cared for any­body. “First you dis­ap­pear from home and leave for God­knows where. Then your fa­ther packs up.

“Then your sis­ter Es­ther runs off to Joburg with a man I’ve never seen. Now you come back full of these . . . funny self-im­por­tant airs to tear apart the lit­tle I’ve tried to hold to­gether. You, who have brought noth­ing but mis­ery all my life, find­ing fault with me! You made Peter like this, and now you want to crip­ple his mind, too. That boy will be tak­ing mbanje next, and drop out of school like you. You’ll drag him into pol­i­tics, too.”

Shamiso can­not be­lieve what Ben­jamin is say­ing to her and pours out her grief. She is de­cent that she could not stoop so low as to en­gage in a street brawl fight­ing an­other woman and make her­self laugh­ing stock of the town­ship. She re­minds Ben­jamin that he dis­ap­peared and his fa­ther also packed up and went to live with Muchaneta and his sis­ter Es­ther eloped with a man. She mar­ried the man without the bless­ing of the fam­ily.

All this proves be­yond any rea­son­able doubt the dis­in­te­gra­tion of the Tichafa fam­ily. We have man­aged to trace cul­tural de­cay through what Ben­jamin does in the play to­day. His be­hav­iour is hard to com­pre­hend and we won­der how early in­de­pen­dent Zimbabwe could have been if all ex-com­bat­ants took this com­bat­ive ap­proach to their fam­i­lies.

For views link with charles­dube14058@ gmail.com/sms to 0772113207.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.