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updated 10:30 PM UTC, Dec 14, 2017
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Renée Gray

Renée Gray

Zimbabwe's New President's Military Roots in Nanjing

With the swearing in today of Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as the Zimbabwean successor to long-term president Robert Mugabe, The Nanjinger takes a look back at the new president’s military career which has its beginnings right here in Nanjing 54 years ago.

The Medium IS the Message

As explained in the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, during the 1960s, Balinese dance became so popular to watch that the damp cold temples in which they were performed became overcrowded. In order to help the friendly, Australian tourists feel more comfortable, the dances were taken to the resorts. The dancers were happy, the tourists were happy, the Balinese priests were happy. But not everyone was happy.

The more “high-minded” of the Westerners were beside themselves with disgust. How could they perform these sacred holy dances in a tacky resort? Utter sacrilege. And so they marched on down to the priests to voice their disappointment.

The priests could not understand why the high-minded Westerners thought so poorly of the resorts, nor why the tourists should not have the right to witness divine beauty, but obliged anyway. As a way of solving the problem, it was decided the sacred dances would go back to the temples and new “divinity free” dances for the tourists would be invented. Once again everyone was happy and, most of all, the high-minded Westerners could now relax, as their distinction between sacred and obscene had now been safely returned to its rightful place in the universe.

Over time, the dances performed at the resorts became even more divine, captivating and beautiful that locals were convinced that these were also sacred.

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