According to the firebrand nationalist’s biography — Negro With a Hat by Collin Hart -— it was at the end of May 1940 when Garvey was recovering from a stroke in a dingy, draughty rented house in Kensington when word reached him of his own death.
“Marcus Garvey dies in London,” announced the first headline, followed by a stream of black-bordered obituaries, many of them critical or dismissive. Garvey was not happy. On the second day, his secretary recalled, as the letters and cables piled up, “he collapsed in his chair, and could hardly be understood after that”.
A few days later he was dead, a victim of his own premature demise.
The tragicomic circumstances of Garvey’s death were in keeping with the general tone of his life.
The celebrity death hoax has been around ever since celebrities started dying, but in recent years social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook have made rumour mongering easier than ever.
Zvenyika Makonese’s “death” last week went viral on the Internet and was unfortunately picked by several top South Africa newspapers that ran the story in their Sunday editions. Some of the radio stations in Emzansi also went gaga with the news of Makonese’s “death”.
Thank God, Makonese did not go the Garvey way and we still have him today. He was sipping his Castle Lager quart last Sunday at Zvishavane’s Sparkles Nite Club, soon to be known as the Platinum Lounge, after famous resident team FC Platinum. He needed the beer.
While Makonese is the latest to meet his faux demise on the Internet and newspapers, death hoaxes in Zimbabwe on reflection actually reveal what people think about you. You should go to Makonese’s Facebook wall to find out.
Some of the things cannot be printed in this newspaper without asterisks. Some people went on to write that beer bottles had been found strewn all over the accident scene. Some of his friends in the aftermath of the death hoax have been urging him to go to an unidentified girlfriend and apologise. The country had been starved of the good celebrity death shocker and Zve’s death spread across the Internet with the enthusiasm of a 15-year-old who has just found his dad’s dirty movie stash.
The death hoax has been a favourite of pranksters for centuries, but Makonese’s “death” was sick in the way it unfolded and people venting out their “real feelings” over this man known as “Hard Body”. He indeed has a hard body following that vile.
There are so many lessons to be learnt from Zve’s death hoax. It will also give us a fair reflection of what the nation thinks about their celebrities when they die. There are also lessons for Zve from this bad experience: That all those hangers on, like him because he is a hero today and will go into a vile overdrive about how reckless he was with his money when he passes on.
Makonese should look himself in the mirror and make that change now. We need to see that tough and composed defender doing what he knows best — playing football. I am not here to lecture Makonese on how to behave or how to spend his money, but he should remember that he is a role model.
Our heroes are remembered for how they rose from humble beginnings to stardom. Unlike British singer Amy Winehouse, our heroes are remembered for changing the lives of their kith and kin. Our heroes are remembered from living in a pole and dagga hut and moving into mansions.
Garvey summed it up in one of his famous quotes “There is no force like success, and that is why the individual makes all effort to surround himself throughout life with the evidence of it; as of the individual, so should it be of the nation,”.
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