Sunday, February 08, 2009

Only in Zimbabwe - US$ 1 million note.

In Friday’s Zimbabwean govern-mental mouthpiece The Herald (which charges US$ for advertising), was a story relating to counterfeit United States dollars. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because it appears the circus really has come to town and everyone is printing their own tickets.

In what appears straight out of an episode of the Keystone Cops, the police along, with the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, busted a ‘den’ of counterfeiters. This just happened to be a shop with a copier and arrested the owner after the detention and interrogation of a ‘dealer’, supplied the 'tip-off'.

Whilst the episode is funny, there is a serious problem. The culprits, and there are many, are hoodwinking as many people as possible. Tragically, they also use the fake money on the rural population and con them into parting with their ever dwindling live stock.

The whole story can be read here –

Meanwhile, I took the story and converted it into a monologue of fictional ventriloquism. Below is the shop keeper speaking in his own defence at a court appearance.

I hope I have managed to convey the accent accurately.

Aah, you Honour. It is not me that should be standing in this box, but that one sitting over there smiling like a baboon who has just stolen a bag of mielies. That man, Ja, him, the big Chef of the bank, Comrade Gono. He is coming into my shop with the police, making me very frightened. How am I suppose to know who he is? If you yourself had a shop in England selling vegtables and the Queen came in, you yourself would just believe it was just another old white umfasi.

They are accusing me. Me - I am a honest man. They say I am making my own usas on my photo copier. In the middle of my shop! Aah, I am laughing now. You believe that the people believe in one million usas note? I am crying now from laughing so much. There is plenty of them. You yourself can get them for nothing from the internet. My favourite is the eight usas note with Obama on it. They are very popular. But that one with him one thousand usas is no good because it use-ah too much colour to make him brown when we all know that he is black and white.

No. I am telling you all that money was just for a game. You know this game Zimopoly. That one where you steal farms and get for-ecks from the Unreserved Bank Casino. This is the money for this game. When people want to pay me two hundred real usas for twenty thousand of my usas, that is not a crime. They are happy with the service and they go home and play Zimopoly.

Aah, you Honour. You know that son of yours from your third wife. That tostsi called Brightspark? Aah, you know him, he is one of my favourite customers and buy many of my usas. He told me one day, when he was very drunk and crashed his new Mercedes into the Chicken Inn next door, Aah, I tell you, I was laughing so hard, I forgot to whip the picanin stealing paper from my shop, that you like to play the game also?

Aah, I am tired now. I have work to do. I tell you this much. That baboon Gono, he print his money all the time, but he is just jealous of me because my money is better than his. He is a RACIALIST! I tell you, he is a Shona and I am a Tonga. He thinks I am stupid but I tell you, he is the stupid one here.

You say that some people are using my usas to pay for things. The shops are the thieves. They charge, charge all the time, so some of my customers use my usas. Where is the crime? Why we pay 5 usas for eggs one day and 7 the next? They are all tostis you honour.

Ah, I see my lawyer is instructing me to rest my case because it is very heavy with plenty usas for you Honour.



Chef: A term used for just about the entire hierarchy of the ruling party ZANU (PF) and its cronies.

Meilies: A cob of corn.

Picanin or Picaninny: Whilst it is considered an offensive word for Black children in the West, I personally believe that in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe it was/is a term of endearment to refer to both White and Black children. There is an interesting link here

Whilst trying to find the correct spelling, throwing into Google various variations I was rather alarmed to have this pop up –

Civilians can still buy Piccinini meat a few doors down at Tartare, Viccari’s small prepared-food ...

Further investigation revealed it to be the name of a butchers in New York.

Tostsi: Loosely translated means "thug". There is a brilliant Oscar winning film of the same name.

Umfasi: Woman

Usas: Modern Zimbabwean slang for the US dollar, now de-facto the major currency in that country.

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