Dear Advocate Mahere,
Last week Thursday I was tagged in your one of your Facebook posts and whilst I understood what you were saying I was however offended by it. I initially brushed it off but after reading the many comments people cheering you on calling you a savage and a legend, I was even more offended. Anyone who tried to point out how offensive your post was, was rudely told not to catch feelings. Over on Twitter it was no different. Again anyone who tried to point out how problematic your post was, was immediately told they were “reaching” and there was no need to be offended. I remember someone went as far as saying taking offense to the post was “majoring in minors” when there is a bigger oppressive system to fight. I was really taken aback by all these insensitive comments and I really tried to keep quiet but as a disabled Zimbabwean, I have to tell you that your wheelchair joke was offensive.
Like I said before I 100% understand what you were attempting to do but my question is why didn’t you use an actual massage chair? You see Advocate, there is absolutely nothing funny I repeat there is absolutely nothing funny about you an able bodied person using a device that thousands of your fellow Zimbabweans rely on for their mobility as a prop to make fun of another able bodied person. Many of the people who justified your joke stated that it was about “context” but I categorically disagree with those claims, it was crass and offensive to say the very least. If we are to justify your joke using the context card let me ask this question, how come black people don’t scream context in response to racist jokes? Any white person can easily apply the same logic and justify a racist joke and claim it is not offensive because the offended person missed the context of the joke.
Advocate I am sure you are aware that thousands of Zimbabweans require the use of a wheelchair for their mobility not because they are exhausted and needing a massage. I myself have used the wheelchairs at the Harare International airport where you were at the time the picture was taken because I needed assistance with my mobility.
Ableist jokes have never and will NEVER be funny in a country like Zimbabwe (or anywhere in the world) where people with disabilities are the most marginalized and ignored group of people.
As an activist, I am sure you know the importance of intersectionality so I hope you will understand why this was offensive.
A very disappointed Zimbabwean.