MDC-T circus: meet the players

Illustration by Peter King
Illustration by Peter King

Given the recent circus being put on show by our brothers and sisters in the MDC-T, I thought it prudent to formally introduce the major players to those of you who may not be in the know.Indeed, it would be remiss on our part art critics to let the circus leave town without giving it due coverage and review.

To give credit where it’s due, Zimbabweans have not borne witness to such a highly entertaining show in a very long time.

Ringmaster — Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai is credited with being the strongest force behind the MDC-T circus. He was present at the formation and brought with him talents he had acquired during his days as a solo act.

With the passing of time, the theme of the circus’ performances evolved to be centred on his own desires to remain as the ringmaster.

Attempts by other actors to usurp his ringmaster powers have been met with harsh expulsion from the circus as he allows no one else to share the spotlight with him.

The ringmaster usually prances around the arena with a whip with which he ruthlessly punishes those who dare protest against his management. The circus now bears his surname instead of the commercial brand name originally adopted.

Aspiring Ringmaster — Tendai Biti
He has been with the ringmaster ever since the circus was established in 1999 and appeared content all along to go along with the ringmaster’s rule. Of late, however, this aspiring ringmaster has come out in the open that he is not happy with the way the ringmaster has been running things and wants to take over the circus himself.

Comparatively, he is shrewder than the ringmaster but does not yet have the audience’s support. It is, however, rumoured that most of the performers prefer him to lead the circus now but are too afraid to come out in the open and say so as they dread the ringmaster’s whip which has already been used on some performers who rebelled.

The Mime — Thokozani Khupe
Madame Khupe is the circus master’s second in command and is an expert on mimicking the ringmaster’s actions.
This mime does not voice any opinion of her own but acts out her master’s wishes.

Given the recent tumultuous events going on in the circus, with some performers rebelling against the ringmaster, the mime has been conspicuous as she has stuck true to form and not voiced any opinion on the rebellion. Many speculate, however, that deep inside her heart, she is betting for the rebels. Who knows, maybe she just might surprise us all and talk one of these days.

Chief Parrot — Douglas Mwonzora
This gentleman has the very important task of repeating the ringmaster’s thoughts, declarations and decisions for the audience and circus performers to hear.

This bird often looks colourful and might appear intelligent for managing to utter high-sounding words but close inspection reveals that the parrot does not voice its own thoughts and wishes but simply repeats what the ringmaster says and gets seeds and nuts for the effort.

Assistant Parrot — Nelson Chamisa
This young parrot is literally singing for its supper. So enthusiastic is he that at times he repeats statements by the ringmaster that were not actually meant for the audience to hear and it is often left to the chief parrot to do damage control.

Many believe that this assistant parrot is aspiring for a higher role within the circus than his present one. We wait to see if he will succeed given that he is quite a brilliant fellow, even more colourful and with a larger vocabulary base than the chief parrot.

He also knows when to utter statements in order to have the most effect. Age is also on his side as he still has brighter coloured feathers.

The Villain — Elton Mangoma
He is the classical villain in the circus, having dared to oppose the rule of the ringmaster. The villain was given fool’s courage by the other circus performers to confront the ringmaster. He was tasked with tying the bell around the cat’s neck.

Unfortunately for him, as soon as the ringmaster cracked the whip on his back, the other performers, save for a few brave ones, scurried for cover and he was left high and dry. The ringmaster kicked him out of the circus and ordered the bulldogs to pounce on him if he was spotted anywhere near the circus tent.

The Chameleon — Jacob Mafume
This chameleon fellow was one of the ringmaster’s trusted lieutenants but has of late turned into his greatest critic, siding with the aspiring ringmaster. The transformation was quite shocking at first, but then who can change colours best at the blink of an eye other than the chameleon himself?

The Monkey — Job Sikhala
This performer once left the circus in a huff after disagreeing with the ringmaster but recently returned, ostensibly to help him out. The monkey’s major talent seems to be swinging all over the tent making a lot of noise chattering incoherently. The other circus performers are aware though that the monkey is just looking for his next banana so they largely ignore him.

The Shadow Men – Roy Bennett and Others
These are the real force behind the circus as they hold the circus’ purse strings and have the power to determine the fate of the ringmaster. Characteristically, they prefer to remain in the shadows and push the ringmaster into the spotlight while they pull the strings from the shadows.

These shadow men are presently not pleased with the ringmaster as he has failed to take the circus to the larger stage as he was instructed to. They are now frantically trying to push the ringmaster out of the spotlight and replace him with the assistant ringmaster although they risk falling into the harsh light themselves and be seen by the audience.

The Bulldogs — Too many to mention
These youthful hounds are tasked with disciplining any performers who step out of line using brute force. They have been trained to attack and kill at the ringmaster’s

The tight rope walkers — Led by Ian Makone
This group of performers thrives on balancing on the dividing rope and will not fall on either side of the rope. This unique balancing act has ensured their survival in the circus as not even the ringmaster, audience or shadow men can find fault with them.

The Choir — Led by Theresa Makone
The circus choir is tasked with singing the ringmaster’s praise day and night, 24 / 7, 365 days a year, no matter the circumstances or scenario. If the ringmaster were to torch the whole circus tent into flames, The Choir will go down singing his praises.

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