The boy, Zuze, beat the letter with anger..

A lovely boy named Zuze worked for a white farmer in 1930s in Zimbabwe. He  had always worked hard and delivered the best results, and his master was pleased with him. He promoted him to be the tea boy. He did all sorts errands in the farmhouse. One day the farmer, Mr Smith, called Zuze to his office.  Zuze went in to meet him and discussed at length the developments of things at the farm.

“I have called you”, said Mr Smith and paused for a while as if he was hesitating to say out the words while his eyes were squared upon Zuze. “I have got some task for you and the task is very simple, I want you to start collecting our farm groceries from a local shop dealer, Mr Brown. He is a good friend of mine and I trust you to do the job well”. Upon hearing the good news, Zuze, smiled and nodded his head in agreement. That’s all I want to say to you, Mr Smith spoke and dismissed his servant, Zuze. Zuze was delighted and he was eager to start the job as soon as he could.

The following day Zuze woke up early and as usual and he took a shower in the iron-corrugated bathroom, which was next to the farmhouse.  He whistled a joyful song as warm water streamed down his body. He was happy and the early birds joined him in his singing. “Mother Africa, you are so beautiful,” he said and wrapped up himself with a big towel that the farmer had bought for him a year ago. He went in his thatched bedroom and put on his best clothes. After looked himself on the mirror he smiled with a smile of satisfaction.

He left for the local shop and did the grocery errands with Mr Brown who liked his enthusiasm and thought it was infectious. Mr Brown had always communicated with his friend, Mr Smith through letters. The first few months Zuze did his job with a touch of excellence. Then one day after he had collected the grocery, he felt tempted to eat one of the loaves. He pulled out a loaf of bread and sat on an old log, which was lying under a huge fig tree. He scrupulously ate it all. He felt energised and continued with his journey to the farm. At the farm, Mr Smith, was waiting anxiously but this time with a purpose. Mr Smith  had begun to worry for Zuze that he had taken so long to come back to the farm than other days. This kind of worry  had strained him each time he checked his wrist watch he thought Zuze might have fallen sick on the way, but he was surprised to see him from a distance that he was in a gaily mood. He received him and asked for the letter from Mr Brown.

Zuze handed over the letter. Mr smith read the contents of the letter. Later he packed some of the food in the pantry and discovered two loaves of bread were missing. “It should have been a dozen of loaves?” he spoke to himself loudly. “Did I miscount?” he wondered and started again recounting the number of loaves and he did for several times until he was satisfied that two loaves of bread were missing. He had made up his mind that he would write a letter to Mr Brown and ask why two loaves of bread were missing.  He wrote the letter that afternoon and gave it to Zuze the following day to deliver to Mr Brown. Zuze carried it and delivered the letter. Mr Brown was shocked and he replied explaining that he had given Zuze a dozen of loaves. In his reply he had suggested Zuze might have eaten it. He asked Mr Smith that he should question his servant about the two loaves. He was sincere and apologised and that he added two extra loaves for his friend.

Zuze was given a small parcel of grocery that day to take to the farm and with a letter to deliver to his master, Mr Smith. When Zuze arrived he handed the letter to his master, Mr Smith, who quickly tore off the envelope and read the letter. Silently he moved closer to Zuze who was watching him like a hawk.

“This letter is saying that you might have eaten two loaves of bread that went missing yesterday. What do you say of this accusation, Zuze? Mr Smith asked and looked straight into Zuze’s eyes. “Did I hear you well, Mr Smith?” Zuze shook his head in disbelief. “You said this letter told you that yesterday I ate the bread?” “Yes it is as you said, Zuze,” Mr Smith said and stepped a distance away from his servant and observed his body language. Zuze paused and thought of the bread he ate and that there was no one around but the letter saw him. “It was a beggar’s belief that the letter had eyes and a mouth to speak,” Zuze thought of it silently. “So, Zuze, did you eat the bread?” Mr Smith queried him. “If the letter said so, I will say yes because there was no one other than me and the letter.

Mr Smith looked at Zuze with incredulity. He had trusted him and he had breached that trust in a short time. “Can I have the letter, Mr Smith?” Zuze asked as he extended his hand towards Mr Smith. “I want to check on the letter and to know  what else it had said about me?” Mr smith quietly handed the letter to Zuze. “Zuze”, Mr Smith called out, “Bring it back to me once you finished reading it. “Ok, boss,” Zuze spoke and walked away to a nearby bush.

Zuze retrieved the letter from his pocket and started to give a lecture to the letter. “Everyday,” he began. “I handled you well and carried you in my pocket and never treated you bad. I always treated you with respect. I have always taken you to Mr Brown and Mr Smith in good shape. I never insulted you nor spied on you but today I am going to teach you a good lesson then you will know who is Zuze.” He spoke whilst the other hand was busy pruning a small branch of the tree and he finally branched it off.

“My name is Zuze and I am going to beat you up. Then after that you won’t spy on me. Do you hear me?” Zuze started to beat the letter and each slash on the paper was tearing off the letter. “You see, you are not even strong enough to defend yourself yet you are good at reporting others”. He beat it until it was no more. “You see you just disappeared from the surface of the earth easily and I am still standing. You are no more and I won’t carry you in my pocket forever.

When he finished he turned around and saw Mr Smith close by and shaking his head. “He is dead. I killed him. He thought he was a notorious guy.” “Whom did you kill?” Mr Smith asked with a curiosity tone. “Your spy is dead, Mr Smith, Zuze said with a triumphant voice. “Who is my spy, Zuze?” Mr Smith was now more inquisitive. “Oh, the letter-it is dead. I beat him to pieces,” Zuze responded and pounded on his chest with his fist. Mr Smith looked around and saw the bits and pieces of the letter scattered everywhere. Once more Mr Smith shook his head in disbelief. He cursed himself. “How on earth did I assume that Zuze was literate and competent?” His assumption had gone wrong and the caution bells were ringing. Immediately he knew it was time to teach his servant basic literate skills.

“Zuze,” Mr Smith called his name. “The letter you destroyed was not a spy. Mr Brown wrote the letter and in his own words he had suggested that you might have eaten the bread. “Wait, Mr Smith,” Zuze said with an authoritative voice. “Earlier, you said the letter had told you that I have eaten the bread, isn’t it? So if the letter had said that so where does Mr Brown comes in? I don’t understand it at all.” “Well”, Mr Smith tried to explain. “There is a plain paper, he pulled out a plain paper from his pocket. Look here, Zuze can you see anything on this paper? It’s white”. “Good. Are there any small drawings you have seen on this paper?” Mr Smith asked again. “No.” Zuze said. “The one you killed did it have some small drawings?” Mr Smith asked. “Yes, and the drawings were of different shapes and black in colour,” Zuze said with enthusiasm. “Very Good Zuze, you are spot on. The small drawings of different shapes were the words that came out from Mr Brown’s mouth and drew it on the paper. The small drawings of different shapes drawn by Mr Brown became the letter because they carried a message. The message he composed from his heart and he is the one who thought you might have eaten the bread. So I was able to read each drawing and I understood it.”

Zuze was amazed his mouth was wide open with awe. “Is that small drawings a language of white people only for them to communicate?”  He asked with interest and he wanted to know more of what he was missing. His master, Mr Smith, was a kind man. “No, it’s not a language for white people only. It is a language for all mankind”. “How could I learn it? Zuze asked and came to sit next to his master. “I am sorry, he apologised. I was feeling hungry and tempted to eat the loaves of the bread. At first I thought I would eat only one but it was very delicious.”  “I have forgiven you, Zuze, but you should have said it yesterday and I would have understood you. Look where we have reached today because of lack of transparency between us,” Mr Smith said.

“As from tomorrow, Zuze, I am going to teach you to draw the words and when you are good enough, I will promote you to become a teacher. It is from there that you shall start to teach other farm workers to write and to read. This farm will be a prosperous one. I am going to build a local school so that every child would benefit.” Zuze was thrilled with the news and it spread like a veld fire that Zuze would be a teacher in some months to come. It pleased the community and when they met they sang and danced with the joy of appreciation for the new things to come. Zuze and His master developed a strong bond and their plans were successful and everyone benefited.

 

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