The evil that men, women do

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THE 32-year-old man who killed  77 of his fellow citizens in Norway early this month would have been four years old when I paid my only visit to his beautiful country, courtesy of the government’s hospitality.
It’s not entirely nonsensical to wonder today, where he was when I and a group of other journalists were being shown around his wonderful country, including Oslo. He was most likely in a nursery school.
Norway is a very wealthy and civilised country.
I doubt that at that age anybody — let alone his parents — would have admonished him against such madness as killing so many of his fellow citizens in the aid of a cause that, at the most, is just plain crazy.
In an interview, his father, now living out of his own country, said he had disowned him. He said he had known of his crazy ideas and was appalled by what he had done. His mother was not heard from, at least not in that bulletin.
Speaking of civilisation, I am bound to wonder why civilisation breeds the kind of monsters capable of such evil. This is a word used by many people to describe what this young man did: evil.
You add a “d” to that word and you have the Devil. The devil does exist, along with the angels — wasn’t he himself an angel?
For me, the incident, apart from reminding me of a wonderful visit to Norway in 1983, recalled my meeting with a journalist with whom I later became very attached, Carlos Cardoso.
He was a Mozambican.
Back home, he was one of those enterprising journalists always searching for the truth — a mission that can lead to your being a “marked” man.
Carlos set up a successful online news website. He was a courageous man. During our visit to Oslo and the second city of Bergen, we discussed how all of us ought to dedicate ourselves to the truth — no matter how enormous the risk.
Cardoso paid the ultimate price: he was killed in Maputo, because he had uncovered the identity of people involved in a huge scandal.
This evil act was committed by people harbouring the same devilish designs on humankind as the young Norwegian who told the world he felt no remorse at what he did.
There are many other people throughout history who had committed these atrocities.
Some, such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, paid the price.
Others, including the servants of the apartheid regime at the height of that reign of terror, have yet to pay the price.
Women who kill their children fall into this horrible category. Others must include Ulrike Meinhoff of the Baader-Meinhoff terrorist group of Germany and the female element of the Bonnie and Clyde duo of the US.
In my country, the people whose evil minds led to the largely needless slaughter of   20 000 men, women and children in the early 1980s, are yet to be brought to book.
The existence of evil in our midst is as evident as the existence of good. All of us hope that The Good will always triumph over the Evil.
Society everywhere has instituted laws which try to ensure that The Evil does not always triumph over The Good. It is a very difficult task for all humankind, whose attempts at killing the Evil among us led us to found The United Nations, probably our last hope to save humankind from Armageddon.
Cardoso, a journalist whose crusading work against all evil probably led to his death, will be remembered by many, not only in Mozambique, but also in the rest of Africa.
There have been many like him, people who sincerely believed that their mission on this earth was to destroy evil in the only way they knew how — by exposing it before succeeds in its designs.
The young Norwegian accused of murdering people who had done him no harm whatsoever — except in his imagination — must be another example of why civilisation as we know it today is not perfect.
Bill Saidi is a veteran journalist based in Harare

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