mayor justin mahlahla.jpg

By Justin Mahlahla

I will not celebrate April Fools’ Day.


I am not a fool and there is nothing to celebrate about foolishness. What a foolish way to start one’s month – with an initiation into foolishness? No way!

And please, don’t even think this is an April Fools’ Day joke either!

The issue about Fools’ Day is to pull pranks on workmates, friends and relatives, and sometimes strangers. I would really love to know who will be the fool in such cases – the prankster or the ‘pranked’.

Although people want to take the day as a whole 24 hours of fun, such pranks can sometimes have serious consequences too.

Some people have told their workmates they are wanted at home and those innocent workmates have travelled back home only to find out there is no one at home.

Some have been lied to that their loved ones have disappeared or died or their property has been stolen, or they have been fired or they have got a new job. You can imagine what people go through simply because someone has decided to be foolish for just one day.

It is amazing that April Fools’ Day is celebrated all around the world on the April 1 of every year. This means people from all over wish they were foolish, so they go around acting foolish, talking foolish and thinking foolish.

Perhaps this vindicates some claims that each and every one of us has their ‘moment of madness’ – which I vehemently refuse because I know I am very sane and would not have madness in my mind.

So on 1 April every year millions of earth’s inhabitants take off their sanity and act like fools – for what?

I actually do not understand how this day came to be celebrated in Zimbabwe. This is not the time to waste time playing fools, but it is time to be serious with life, to build our country and encourage one another to be morally and culturally upright.

Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognised and celebrated as a day where everyone plays all kinds of jokes and foolishness.

Traditionally, in some countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an “April Fool”.

I have compiled a list of pranks and hoaxes pulled on innocent people over the years. You would not like the consequences.

•    Space Shuttle lands in San Diego: In 1993, DJ Dave Rickards told listeners of KGB-FM in San Diego that Space Shuttle Discovery had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and would be landing at Montgomery Field, a small municipal airport with a 4,577 foot runway. Thousands of people went to the airport to watch the purported landing, causing traffic jams throughout Kearny Mesa. Moreover, there wasn’t even a shuttle in orbit at the time.

•    Death of a mayor: In 1998, local WAAF shock jocks Opie and Anthony reported that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a car accident. Menino happened to be on a flight at the time, lending credence to the prank as he could not be reached. The rumor spread quickly across the city, eventually causing news stations to issue alerts denying the hoax. The pair were fired shortly thereafter.

•    Phone call: In 1998, UK presenter Nic Tuff of West Midlands radio station pretended to be the British Prime Minister Tony Blair when he called the then South African President Nelson Mandela for a chat. It was only at the end of the call when Nic asked Nelson what he was doing for April Fools’ Day that the line went dead.

•    BBC Radio 4 (2005): The Today Programme announced in the news that the long-running serial The Archers had changed their theme tune to an upbeat disco style.

•    U2 live on rooftop in Cork: In 2009, hundreds of U2 fans were duped in an elaborate prank when they rushed to a shopping centre in Cork believing that the band were playing a surprise rooftop concert. The prank was organised by Cork radio station RedFM.

The band were in fact just a tribute band called U2opia.

•    Cellphone ban: In New Zealand, the radio station The Edge’s Morning Madhouse enlisted the help of the Prime Minister on April 1st to inform the entire country that cellphones are to be banned in New Zealand. Hundreds of callers rang in disgruntled at the new law.

By television stations
•    Tower of Pisa: The Dutch television news reported in the 1950s that the Tower of Pisa had fallen over. Many shocked people contacted the station.

•    TV license fee evasion discovery: In 1969, the Dutch TV news notified the public of a new device that would be handed out to civil servants tasked with finding TV license fee evaders. This device would be able to detect the presence of a television set in the house from the outside. Asked whether there was nothing that citizens could do about this, the interviewed “civil servant” said ‘No’, as – he said – it would be unlikely that people would be willing to wrap their TVs in aluminum foil. The next day aluminum foil was sold out in most stores in a matter of hours.

•    In 2004, the Italian television station Rai 2 reported that NASA discovered crude oil on Mars.

It seems there is nothing good or beneficial about playing the fool for a day. No one wants to associate with fools. Why should we want to make fools of ourselves and our colleagues then? If we have jokes to tell, we can always tell them any other day.

I don’t get the logic behind having a whole day to celebrate foolishness and in the process appear to be ‘wise’ because the Holy Bible says even a fool, when he is quiet, appears to be wise. Of course, we do have people who would rather speak or act to remove all doubt.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.