The value of true friendship


In one of the poems featured in his collection, “The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk”, prominent Zimbabwean author and poet, Charles Mungoshi, creates the protagonist who advises his son about the prudence of knowing who one's true friends are.

This poem is reminiscent of another poem written by English poet, Robert Frost, titled “Mending Wall”, which also talks about the value of knowing one's all-weather friends, having true friends.

Dissenting criticisms surround this poem, with critics like one HD Thoreau and George Montiero positing the argument of whether “walls and fences (are) instrumental in the retention and renewal of human relationships, (or not)”. However, I still find Frost's poem much relevant through the way that it buttresses the need for one to have a clear inventory of one's true friends.

“Good fences make good neighbours,” writes Frost.

Coming back to Zimbabwe, this message has been further projected in the form of a gospel song that has become a hit on the airwaves.

“Ndisahwira wako here uyo/Wauinaye ndisahwira wako here iwe? (Is that person besides you your bosom friend/This very same person you are wining and dining with?)”, are part of the lyrics by young gospel musician Mathias Mhere.

If Zimbabweans, and Africa at large, contemplate the full import of these words, they could open their eyes and begin to see who their real friends are in this vast peopled world.

Like Jesus Christ, we can surround ourselves with a lot of people and 'disciples', but we should be wary of the deceptive Judas Iscariots among us who clothe themselves in sheep's eiderdown yet in reality, they will be dyed-in-the-wool wolves.

It is such people, who pretend to be Africa's friends yet they go Nicodemously behind our backs and backstab us, spout hate-language about Africa in an effort to perpetuate the depletion of African resources to the detriment of our progress and development.

All these usurious acts of avarice will be done for the sake of the proverbial “30 pieces of silver”!

Imagine this scenario: Two brothers are bickering and an outsider comes and, rather than quelling the dispute, he arms one party with a machete. What will be the motive here?

Or, I take my basket full of ripe almonds to the marketplace to sell and raise income for my children's school fees, medical bills, food and et cetera. These almonds are from my own land, my God-given land, my right, my birthright.

But someone rounds up his 'hooligan' friends and together gang up against me, condemn my almonds as 'rotten' and label them as unfit for market standards.

They also heckle me with all sorts of funny requests for some dubious certification and licensing, which they argue qualify me to be a bona fide seller of my almonds. What will be the motive here?

Zimbabwe is doing everything in her power, capacity and right to prospect and sell her diamonds on the international market but certain quarters are hell-bent on foiling this process.

These detractors are part of that league of Africa's former colonisers who looted massive wealth from the continent, resources, which went a long way in developing their own countries' infrastructure and industries.

Africa, and Zimbabwe, should put in place plans of making sure that the close friend first gets a generous share of the sweet potato when it is cooked before those from the hostile side of the mountain sink their serrated teeth in it.

Now is the time for Zimbabwe, and Africa, to develop her industries and infrastructure from the fruits yielded from her natural resources. But this can only be achieved if Africa first identifies who her true friends are.

A true friend is one who rushes to the river armed with buckets and fetches water to douse the fire that has engulfed his neighbour's house. A true friend is one who stands by his neighbour in all elements – storm, hail, cold, rain or sun. 

One who, like the character in Robert Frost poem, “Mending Wall”, always ensures that “good fences” are always erected to fend off the marauding beasts.

February 2014
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