• Daniel Dacanay

Garden of Grief: An Unreported Terror in the Heart of Africa


With the world on the brink of nuclear war, domestic political tensions high in the Western World, and an alarming rise of second wave fascism and religious extremism, it is easy to forget one of the more pressing menaces to the civilised world. Namely, the oft-unseen threat of Sub-Saharan African vegetable based political insults has managed to remain scarce detected by the modern political radar, despite the subversive and often dangerous nature of its brutality.

Not three years ago, Zambian opposition politician Frank Bwalya referred to incumbent Zambian president Michael Sata as a chumbu mushololwa, a vicious insult roughly translating from Bemba as being ‘bent sweet potato’. Despite the grievous nature of his crimes, which are regarded by some as being tantamount to a crime against humanity, Bwalya was acquitted by the High Courts in July of that same year after pleading free speech. Bwalya now walks the streets of Lusaka a free man, facing now prospect of long-term punitive action or incarceration.

A similar occurrence took place 12 years prior, when Fred M’membe, the editor of The Post, an independent Zambian newspaper with an international reputation for anti-governmentalist sentiments, was arrested for referring to president Levy Mwanawasa as a ‘cabbage’, yet was still given no punishment, and remains a prominent and accredited journalist to this day.

Yet despite the malicious, border-line barbarian nature of these attacks, the international community has done little to protect the politicians of Zambia. The issue of vegetable-based insults has yet to be discussed by the United Nations, being ignored in favour of issues such as the Sahel Famine. Furthermore, many Western newspapers refuse to report on the issue, and in a brief interview conducted between Trollope Times correspondent Daniel Dacanay and MacDonald’s cashier Andrew McMillan, McMillan dismissively responded that

“There are bigger issues on all of our minds than this, Daniel. This is a silly topic, and I really think you are wasting people's time by reporting on 15 year old insults instead of something actually relevant.”

Under current Zambian law, there is no penalty for floral, horticultural, or other botanical insults. Yet, despite poor reporting, it is believed that dozens of innocent Zambian politicians are being derogatively referred to as vegetables every year. Whether there is hope for these poor souls is unclear. However, what is known is that, until legislature passes to limit the spread of this brutal practice, little may be done to help these men and women, whose future appears to hold only further suffering.