UK-based Zimbabwean comedian Mukudzei Kandoro Majoni aka King Kandoro returned home for his Prodigal Son Tour which concluded in Harare on Christmas Eve. This was my first time attending stand up comedy locally and I can’t say I was disappointed. The opening act, Munya was pretty funny, I particularly liked the bucket bathing jokes and references. She closed off the show in a way that myself and those in attendance were not expecting. I would explain it to you, but… you had to be there… Munya was followed by a performance from ProBeatz who got the crowd going before the main event.
When the man of the hour hit the stage, I was expecting a lot of social commentary. Comedy has, for a very long time, been used to convey what most people are thinking but don’t usually say out loud even in Zimbabwe. And we got that and then some. The opening portions were mostly about life in the diaspora, religion and fatherhood. This was all very relatable, especially for Millenials.
However, that section paled in comparison to the part about e-passports that I believed King Kandoro capture brilliantly. Now before I go further, Kandoro has a show on YouTube that is similar to the Trevor Noah hosted Daily Show or John Oliver’s LastWeekTonight called “Propaganda”. He, like John Oliver and Trevor Noah, talks about current events with a bit of levity. This isn’t meant to minimise the problems but it presents them in a format that is less formal than traditional news and it often delves deeper into the systems that are behind the machinery of economics. politics, human rights and a litany of other subjects.
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It was this section of King Kandoro’s Prodigal Son that captivated me the most because it was centred around the things that we have become desensitized to because of how it appears that, with each passing day, there is something else we have to account for in this teapot shaped country of ours. And Kandoro captured the mood of the moment with the e-passport fiasco we have all had to bear witness to.
In case you missed it, last week the government said that we had to make the switch to e-passports. These documents are more secure and will make it easier for us clear immigration as we come home as well as in countries that have lax Visa requirements for Zimbabweans. That’s all well and good but there is just one problem… We only have until 2023 to make the switch which means that if you have spent money to get a traditional passport it is unclear yet if you’ll have to fork out money to get a new one.
All of that aside (if that’s even possible) the manner in which information is disseminated in Zimbabwe is just appalling. Announcements like these are usually made in the dead of night by Information Secretary Nick Mangwana on his Twitter account. It might feel like a lifetime ago but it was only last year when Nick Mangwana, late at night, announced that EcoCash, OneMoney and Telecash would be suspended.
This was something that King Kandoro (and many) take exception to because, for one thing, Twitter is a service that the majority don’t have access to due to escalating data prices. Moreover, the government doesn’t have a zero-rated message board or an emergency SMS service that sends these notices out to the people.
Henceforth Govt will cease production of the passport as we know it and will commence production of e-passports.— Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana) December 14, 2021
Those already holding the current one have exactly 2 years (until December 2023) to replace with e-passport.
Ordinary passport US$100
Emergency – US$200 pic.twitter.com/KXrdFfTjti
Henceforth Govt will cease production of the passport as we know it and will commence production of e-passports. Those already holding the current one have exactly 2 years (until December 2023) to replace with e-passport. COST Ordinary passport US$100 Emergency – US$200
On top of all that, there is a little warning to these notices and everything is “with immediate effect or henceforth“. I really hate those terms or any associated because it assumes that we are all ready to pivot whatever plans we have in order to accommodate a snap decision made at a moment’s notice. There should have been a longer timeline for the e-passport.
More importantly that information, as earlier mentioned, should be dispersed as widely as possible in a variety of mediums that bear in mind the different languages and dialects spoken in Zimbabwe, persons with disabilities, and there should be no cost to access the information for the citizen, be it data or accessing it in a publication.
The elitism that exists in information dissemination was, in my opinion, the highlight of King Kandoro’s Prodigal Son. We might not be able to change the course of events when decisions are made by the government, but at the very least there should be an effort to make sure that every Zimbabwean understands what is happening.