HARARE – President Robert Mugabe may have stoked a diplomatic tiff with the Jamaicans when he described the island as a country of marijuana smokers, where women are now taking charge since men are always sloshed.
While giving a “distinguished lecture” at the Research and Intellectual Expo 2012, Mugabe who neither smokes nor drinks alcohol, wished Zimbabwe never followed the footsteps of Jamaicans whose influence on the country is all too pervasive.
“In Jamaica they have freedom to smoke mbanje, varume vanogara vakadhakwa (men are always drunk) and universities are full of women. The men want to sing and do not go to colleges vamwe vanobva vamonwa musoro (some are dreadlocked). Let us not go there,” said Mugabe.
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 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 whom he said “drink on behalf of others”. He urged universities to build God-fearing students.
Mugabe’s stance is shocking considering 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.
Other reggae artistes who have come to Zimbabwe include, Eric Donaldson, Marx Priest and Buju Banton.
In recent years there has been an influx of young Jamaicans dancehall and reggae superstars who have been given the red carpet by Mugabe’s government and in return have showered praises on the 88-year-old strongman.
Mugabe’s statement is likely to draw the ire of musicians like Sizzla and Red Rat who have gone into an overdrive praising the southern African country.
Sizzla who was given a farm received royal treatment from Mugabe and described him as a great leader.
“I think he’s a good President, kind to his nation, just and true,” Sizzla said in 2010 after singing at Mugabe’s birthday bash.
Following in the footsteps of Bob Marley, Red Rat who has never been to the country sang praises on Zimbabwe.
Other top Jamaican artistes who have been to Zimbabwe include Fantan Mojah, Cocoa T, Bennie Man, Luciano and Sean Paul.
Mugabe publicity spin-doctors used Jamaican artistes to preen the country’s tattered image just a few years ago and the Jamaicans have not disappointed.
Zimbabwe enjoys cordial relations with the island nation but there are no diplomats stationed in either country.
Rastafarians consider marijuana as the “wisdom weed” as its use helps one gain wisdom.
They also use it as part of a religious rite and as a means of getting closer to their inner spiritual self.