Zimbabwe's president reportedly labels J'can men as drunkards always high on the weed
A media entity in Zimbabwe has reported that the country's president, Robert Mugabe, has taken an unprovoked swipe at Jamaica and, in particular, Jamaican men.
In an online article posted last Friday on the website of Nehanda Radio, a Zimbabwean radio station, Mugabe, who was conferred with the Order of Jamaica during a state visit to the island in 1996, is quoted as labelling Jamaican men as drunkards who are perennially high on marijuana.
According to the report, the controversial Mugabe made the comments during a 'distinguished lecture' at a university function dubbed 'Research and Intellectual Expo 2012'.
The Nehanda Radio story speculated that the 88-year-old Zimbabwean strongman may have stoked a diplomatic tiff with Jamaica by describing the island as "a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed (drunk)".
According to the article, Mugabe, who neither smokes nor drinks alcohol, urged Zimbabweans never to follow in the footsteps of Jamaicans, whose influence on the country is all too pervasive.
FREE TO LIGHT UP
Even though marijuana is illegal in Jamaica, the Nehanda Radio reported that Mugabe said that Jamaicans are free to light up spliffs.
"In Jamaica, they have freedom to smoke mbanje, varume vanogara vakadhakwa (men are always drunk) and universities are full of women," the article reports Mugabe as saying.
"The men want to sing and do not go to colleges vamwe vanobva vamonwa musoro (some are dreadlocked). Let us not go there," Mugabe is quoted as saying.
The article also noted that "the Zimbabwean leader, who is battling a negative international projection from Western countries over alleged human-rights abuses, said the levels of abuse of drugs in Zimbabwe are low, save for a people who he said 'drink on behalf of others'".
Mugabe is also reported as urging universities to build God-fearing students.
The article further noted that despite the fact that Jamaican reggae and dancehall artistes have trooped to the southern African country heaping praises on the Zanu PF leader, Mugabe is not flattered.
The report stated that Mugabe's stance was shocking when held against the backdrop of "the numerous praises from Jamaican artistes such as Sizzla, Red Rat and the legendary Bob Marley, who graced the country's independence celebrations in 1980".
"At the invitation of the late Zanu PF former secretary general, Edgar Tekere, the reggae godfather bankrolled his trip and left Zimbabweans awed by his song Zimbabwe," read another section of the article.
"In recent years, there has been an influx of young Jamaican dancehall and reggae superstars, who have been given the red carpet by Mugabe's government and, in return, have showered praises on," said the report, which was not corroborated by any of the major international news organisations.
However, some reputable international news organisations are banned from broadcasting from Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's government in Harare has always enjoyed a good relationship with Kingston following the work of then Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1979.
Manley was instrumental in meetings with Joshua N'Komo and Robert Mugabe in London in a flurry of diplomatic briefings on the constitutional talks on the future of Zimbabwe and Rhodesia.
During his visit to Jamaica in 1996, Mugabe was hailed as a courageous leader as he accepted the Order of Jamaica on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe.
During that visit, Mugabe met with a delegation of Rastafarians in a meeting that was punctuated by prayers, chants and the blowing of horns, as he was hailed as a great leader of Africa in the tradition of National Hero Marcus Garvey.
More recently, Sizzla found himself in an international controversy in 2010 when he performed at Mugabe's 86th birthday celebrations.
"I see him as one of my fathers from Africa," Sizzla said of Mugabe.
"He's part of my nation, the black nation. In all that he's done - whether it's good or bad - I hope and pray that it's for the betterment of the people," said Sizzla in response to his critics.
Late yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson told The Sunday Gleaner the Government was aware of the report but not yet in a position to comment.