Elephant meat not nice: Mugabe

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe might have overstayed in power and his style of leadership might have created enemies within and abroad but his amazing sense of humour will always leave people in stitches.

He likes to joke whenever he opens his mouth and yesterday was one of his good days.

He left guests in stitches when he recalled the first and last time he ate elephant meat.

“I ate it once while in prison because that jail could only serve elephant meat. I didn’t like it and that was the last time I ate it,” said Mugabe, throwing yet another jab. “Who could not be afraid to eat an elephant?”

Mugabe was full of praise for Zimbabwe’s big five wild animals as he excitedly received two European Council on Tourism and Trade, ECTT awards from its president Professor Anton Caragea.

“I do not know if there are other people who eat lion meat, but the buffalo is friendlier and has more meat. The rhino is quiet and harmful while we have the leopard which is blood-thirsty.”

He said while he was pleased with the accolades, he was not surprised at all because Zimbabwe possesses qualities that make it a truly tourist destination. “But most importantly this is a destination for the people. Tourists come to Zimbabwe because of the friendly and passionate people they find here.”

Mugabe applauded the people of Zimbabwe for the awards and said without them most things would be difficult to execute. “Even during the liberation struggle, it was the people who fought the war. Zanla, Zipra or Zanu were just fronts of a determined people.”

He said while Zimbabwe’s enemies continued to “provoke or anger us, there is no way we would like to go back and fight again. Never, never again!”

The awards presentation had superstar musician Oliver Mtukudzi singing a special song, Nhasi Ndezveduwo that had Mugabe nodding all the way.

Reverend Paul Damasane who gave the opening prayer took guests, including Mugabe and his ministers by surprise when he gave a prayer in a local dialect unlike in most cases when it is done in English and sparingly in Shona or Ndebele. Mugabe later praised Damasane whom he described as a man of prayer, moralist, gifted poet and musician who loved his culture and traditions.

After the surprise prayer, a powerful song Our Zimbabwe was belted out by the soulful Bonnie Deuschle. Unknown to Mugabe and his top officials who could be seen nodding softly and responding to the song’s powerful lyrics, the song was once blacklisted by ZBC in 2003.

In 2001 as the country was torn apart by political violence, former Zimbabwe national team cricketer Henry Olonga sang Our Zimbabwe in which he alluded to the fact that Zimbabweans were living peacefully and in harmony.  The song was blacklisted on national radio in February 2003 after Olonga and fellow national team cricketer Andrew Flower issued a statement of protest during a World Cup game against political violence and lawlessness in Zimbabwe.

Sang Deuschle yesterday: “This land our land is our Zimbabwe... A land of peace for you and me...Once born in pain and segregation...But now we live in harmony...Now flies the flag our nations glory...We live with pride inside our hearts...As we all stand to build our nation...This our land, our Zimbabwe…”

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