Stanley Mushava Literature Today
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede flared up an interesting debate last year when he branded birth control drugs a form of Western conspiracy to keep Africa underdeveloped.
Mudede attributed the upsurge of cancer, hypertension, induced obesity and other maladies among women to the use of family planning drugs.
He protested that population control was unfairly targeted at developing countries by Western capitalists bent on protecting their capitalist tentacles by curtailing growth and security in their economic vassals.
Sadly, for a debate of such implications, responses to Mudede’s remarks were polemical in one direction, with several people accusing the Registrar-General of losing his theatre sense and reading his personal scruples into the Minister of Health and Child Welfare’s script.
Around four months into the debate, in November 2014, Mudede and Richard Hondo re-issued their book to that effect, “Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and Population Control in Developing Countries,” with reprints of the debate featured from the mainstream media for a nuanced approach.
Mudede and Hondo’s book is an undertaking of profound magnitude, chiefly because it takes on a subject that is mostly overlooked, or buried in NGO-speak, notwithstanding its health implications and social significance.
As the title suggests, the book is an attempt to hit a two-headed capitalist monster with one bullet.
The authors admit signing up for a daunting task but insist that they are out to make the message “too visible to be ignored.”
While the issues are essentially technical, the authors submit their arguments in plain, lay-friendly language for ease of navigation.
Mudede and Hondo make free with several disciplines, biology, history, indigenous tradition and religious cosmology to calibrate their side of the debate for the largest audience possible.
A grand scheme to control the black population is recurrently cited in the book, supported by damaging statements by the euginicists of the Western world.
US government insider Henry Kissinger, Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and apartheid villain PW Botha concur that birth control methods must be proliferated to weaken the populations of “lesser races”.
Though manifestly the emanation of dark minds, the work has been entrusted to more subtle and scientifically efficient agencies such as non-governmental organisations and feminist pressure groups.
Abortion and long-term birth control methods such as norplant are being championed as expressions of the woman’s freedom over her body.
“The unfortunate thing is that these contraceptive drugs have ruinous, often fatal, side effects and are targeted at black women,” Mudede and Hondo point out.
The duo argues that, far from being empowered, the targeted women in developing countries are sacrificing their health and inadvertently furthering the cause of “racial hygiene.”
Nerve damage, stroke, heart attack, sterility, cancer, severe headaches, depression, nervousness, fluctuating appetite, heavy bleeding, extreme weight gain and difficulty with removal of capsules are collectively cited as some of the risks associated with use of contraceptives such as Norplant and Depo-Provera.
“Policy-makers, doctors and the mainstream media alike consider both Norplant and Depo-Provera tailor-made ‘choices’ for ‘irresponsible’ women – poor young women of colour, mothers on welfare, and the ‘less educated. . .’” Mudede and Hondo observe.
While the duo forcefully presents the plight of black women at the hands of money-hungry drug suppliers and eugenicists, their position on population control is not clear.
In one instance, they prescribe natural methods which have been long discredited as ineffective and in another instance, they encourage Zimbabweans to have as many children as possible.
“Pamberi nekuronga zvemhuri mutsika dzedu. Zimbabwe inoda vanhu vazhinji. Vanhu 12,9 million vashoma chaizvo. (Forward with tradition birth control methods. Zimbabwe needs a huge population. 12.9 million people are below the mark,)” Mudede and Hondo chant a questionable slogan in the third chapter of their book.
Moreover, their outline of alternative methods is mono-sourced and not adequately researched as they rely solely on 120-year old Chizani Mushawatu, said to have been Mbuya Nehanda’s attendant.
Mudede and Hondo’s new slogan may fit well into a counter-capitalist rhetorical template, but it largely ignores the current economic context.
The job market is groaning under the weight of the current population. Growing jobs, liberating the economy from vested interests – local and neo-colonial – and sharing our wealth seem to be more plausible than siring children into poverty with greater frequency.
While there is something emasculating about growing a family within the bounds of induced poverty, where school fees and medicines become unaffordable, this could be the only ethical choice.
After all, child spacing may not be an exclusively Western idea. The Bhundu Boys suggest as much with the lyrics of Kuwanda Kwakanaka: “The ancestors said numbers are good, except for making the dish smaller.”
To their credit, Mudede and Hondo have initiated a pertinent debate. The Ministry of Health and Child Welfare must provide answers on the “black woman’s burden.”
The initial bout on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) debate is an equally tough, but less controversial undertaking, considering vested interests entrenched in this debate.
The duo fares reasonably well amid daunting odds.
Mudede and Hondo argue that proponents for the uptake of GMOs are motivated by the economic reasons whatever the health implications that stake.
GMO proponents argue that modified products fast-track, can be mass-produced at minimum cost have a more durable shelf life, hence ideal for coping with a growing world population.
In their able response, the authors point out that developing countries must not be hoodwinked as the motivation for producing GMOs is basically big profits, with the life of the consumers deemed immaterial by producers.
GMOs mature faster than natural foods as a result of a distorted DNA. Mudede and Hondo note that scientists who alter this code of life are playing God without acknowledging their incapacity to replicate the harmony of nature in their distorted set-up.
Going by the “we are what we eat” rationale, the authors argue that consumption of GMOs results in bodies composed of genetically altered material whose distortion is passed on the next generation.
Mudede and Hondo point out that although few organisations are still concerned for the purity of what people eat, it is important to warn the public about the maladies caused by GMOs.
GMOs cause genetic disorders, a condition whereby chromosomes are abnormally constituted, resulting in impotent and mentally challenged offspring.
The authors say 600 children are born with these conditions in the United States.
“Contrary to pro-GMO assertions, the altered genes in GMO foods are not digested in the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT) because they are not digestable,” write Mudede and Hondo.
“They enter the blood stream, where they functionally interfere with normal genetic processes,” they point out.
Consumers of genetically altered foods are also at the risk of becoming impotent in their early twenties, in another dealth-knell to the population.
Linked to this problem is obesity, whereby affected women, mostly victims of hypertension by extension, may be advised against having children.
Other health problems associated with GMOs include impairment of digestive system, inflammatory bowels, auto-immune diseases, asthma and autism spectrum disorders.
Mudede and Hondo observe that GMOs consumption facilitates causes people to mature early, age early and die early.
GMOs pose a double-barreled assault to developing economies because the inputs are exclusively supplied by foreign manufacturers.
Moreover, the influx of cheap, mass-produced commodities would threaten the sustainability of proudly Zimbabwean producers.
Hopefully, the debate on population control drugs and GMOs drugs continues in a distinctively Zimbabwean accent, not donor-driven NGO speak.
- Stanely Mushava at upstreamafrica.blogspot.com.