INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed United States-based Zimbabwean multi-media sculptor Bongolove still retains massive and deep love for his homeland despite being recently caught up in the recent three-day stay-away that turned the violent.
“It was just unfortunate,” said the talented singer-cum-sculptor, speaking to The Afronews during the demonstrations while he was holed up in a city hotel – with his dad – here.
Called by organizations and other anti-government outfits – ostensibly to protest at the announced fuel price hike, the demonstrations degenerated into mayhem, resulting in massive looting of supermarkets and shops, torching of several private businesses, public taxis and a couple of police vehicles at various police stations in high-density neighbourhoods around cities and towns across the country.
Government then responded to this anarchy by deploying police and the army to restore law and order, protect peaceful and law-abiding citizens and private property.
Multiple-award winning Bongolove, born Raphael Saidi in the asbestos-mining town of Zvishavane, had arrived in Harare from a short holiday in Kariba with his dad and checked into the city hotel on the evening of Sunday the night before only to wake up Monday morning in the midst of all the chaos and mayhem.
“We never intended to stay this long – this is my third straight night in this place . . . ” he told The Afronews. “But, you know, staying in a hotel is not my idea of a holiday break! Especially for us artists!
“I am an outdoors guy, you know. And these demos outside, I mean reports of torching people’s vehicles . . . I can’t understand. It’s private property and must be condemned in the strongest terms by any sane person,” he said, explaining that such misguided action sends wrong messages to potential investors, depresses the economy, increases unemployment and deepens poverty!”
Bongolove, who came to Boulder County (Colorado) in 2000, informed this publication he had advised colleagues who were making plans to tour the country while he was here to put their plans on hold until the situations had cleared.
As the conversation progressed, Bongo – a musician who has performed at numerous venues in the US whose first love was playing bongos – and got his stage name – had no kind words for the hooligans and criminal and those responsible for such activities.
“These hooligans have no vision. They do not know how their actions impact on their future,” he said, adding: “The sentiments from out there (in the Diaspora), have been very positive and there is plenty of goodwill for the new dispensation. So, we do not know the agenda of those responsible,” he wondered.
Although he did not actually get hurt in the mayhem, except to have his itinerary disrupted, is still puzzled by the turn of events, deeply disappointed and feels betrayed by mostly the youths in the urban areas.
“While we are busy putting packages for the betterment of the situation back home, some misguided elements are busy destroying,” he said.
“Which local investor – or foreign for that matter – will put their hard-earned investment in high-density areas in the face of all this?” he asked, rhetorically.
The sculptor – a celebrity – in his adopted city of , has exhibited in wood, stone and – ice! He can also use a chainsaw to carve and he’s in fact won multiple awards at chainsaw carving competitions !
The artist finally left the capital for Bulawayo – the country’s second largest city after the situation had been put under control.
“It was a bad experience, but, well, home is best,” he promised The Afronews.
“I’ll be back.”