The Guardian‘s G2 section (Monday 18.03.13) carried a very odd report (labelled Fashion), Why is ‘Mugabe chic’ so popular in Zimbabwe? It is described as “”dictator chic””, by David Smith, or his sub editors, despite the fact that President Mugabe is a member of one party (ZANU-PF) and his PM Morgan Tsangvari, is the leader of another the Coalition for Change. Smith writes that this is not “only a fashion statement but an act of rebellion in major cities where denigrating “Uncle Bob” or “the old man” has become almost de rigeur”.
The newest item is a cap with 1924 on it – Mugabe’s birth date. Smith writes that possibly “far from being a liability, the 89-year-old’s status as Africa’s oldest leader is a point of pride.” It may well be. Africans don’t have the currently fashionable (‘Anglospheric’) attitude to age. Being ancient of days is respected, and for a man in his ninth decade Mugabe seems remarkably vigorous and clued-up. And he is of the generation that made Zimbabwe independent. Other elements of this fashion trend include Mugabe’s signature on items of clothing. A very attractive mixed double, ‘models’ presumably, model t-shirts and jerkins with the signature all over them (leading one to wonder how this dour, isolated, ‘Marxist dictatorship’ acquired a flourishing fashion industry? ‘Clothes horses’ are the very end of the process).
The [fashion] House of Gushungo is behind all this – apparently the “signature appeals to a particular group, typically around 30 and running their own business, who feel they are doing just fine under his 33-year rule”. David Smith, and the editors of the Guardian appear not to realise that this (apparently tangential) item has exploded decades of UK Government-inspired ‘gray propaganda’. Zim was backward, dictatorial, and an economic basket case. We’ve all experienced BBC television operatives standing in front of market stalls groaning under the weight of beautiful fresh food telling us, gravely, that the supermarket shelves are empty.
This short article rather fizzles out, partly because it is unable to explain where all these successful ‘thirtysomethings’ come from. Where did they acquire their education? Where did they get the skills to design, and to market, this shmeer? Is it because Mugabe (an Irish Christian Brothers’ product) took education seriously and encouraged the development of any skills and talents pupils my have had, whether it was farming, fashion or physics? We can only hope that ‘Mugabe chic’ comes to Britain. Let’s encourage some entrepreneurial African (or other ex-CB pupil) to do so.