Today we delve into the fascinating world of the media....in Africa.
I am fortunate to live in a town that has a newspaper which manages to print stories not based on any actual occurrences - but almost entirely on their perception of the reading requirements of their devoted fan base...their readers.
Sex, scandal and other salacious gossip feature prominently, quite aside from straight-faced pronouncements on elections and other national events - in which the most incredible whoppers are recounted as fact.
Be that as it may, I have to say that many of their stories are quite remarkable in that while they appear wholly fabricated to a Western mind (such as mine) - when considered in the context of serious news by the African mind (again - such as mine!), these are in fact serious, credible and wholly true, stories.
OK - here then are three advertising hoardings placed on the street to entice a hugely gullible public to part with their money. I say this because pretty much the entire story is contained in the headline - with not much further information to be obtained if you actually buy the paper. Most of the readers of this blog are from Europe or North America, so you tell me if you find the following a little beyond belief, and therefore not true. Which of the following stories would you consider 'figments of the editors imagination' - and which are completely false fabrications?
In fact goblins are very much part of life in Zimbabwe, and 95% of the population believes in them. Hence, to a Zimbabwean mind - there is nothing false or extraordinary about this story at all. And where you have goblins - you have must have people dealing in them. So this is a true story as far as we are concerned.
Now then - how about this story - is this true. Or not?
Well - incredibly, this is part of Shona culture. In Zim, we have 2 basically parallel justice systems (not counting the one that ensures some are more equal than others and therefore inviolate where the law is concerned) - and these are the traditional courts, and the formal courts. The latter is where justice as you and I would know it takes place, and the other are the traditional courts, which dispense justice as laid down by custom and culture.
Sooooo - when a woman accuses her husband of infidelity, and takes the matter to arbitration within a village court, it is accepted that the way she indicates that her husband has been unfaithful is for her to remove her undergarments (called 'panties' in this part of the wold) and either throw them at him, or place them on his head.
If he is found guilty, the tribal court may then ask him to leave the village - and may require him to take the panties with him as a badge of dishonour.
So - this is a true, and perfectly reasonable, story.
Lastly - this astonishing (at first) headline.......
So is this true?
Of course - a Western mind will think on seeing this sandwich board, that a fellow from Moz killed his wife - and dug a hole in the sand into which he placed her. But look closely..... he burried her! Ha! BIG difference, wouldn't you say? As it is common practice for men in Zimbabwe to burry their wives when they are dead - this too, is obviously a true story! Some women even like to be burried when they are alive - (though I have heard of one or two instances of women leaving a marriage rather than submit to being burried - but this is not the norm here) so this must, again, be a true story.
In fact - it will positively improve your day if you try to burry the next person you see - even a complete stranger!
Have a great day!