Hi everyone. I’m sorry I dissappeared for a while. Where was I?
I dropped off the radar just before Zimbabwe’s elections. A lot has happened personally since then, but like most other Zimbos, I got a little depressed. I got so caught up in the country’s politics I couldn’t focus on much else. At the same time, I got was getting a bit of radio time because of articles I had written on both Zimbabwe and other issues.
I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that change in Zimbabwe is not going to come about through a political process but a social movement. There will come a time when people just decide that enough is enough and we want to build something better. That may happen before or after Bob (Mugabe) goes, but the truth is tht he is just part of the problem.
The biggest issue in Zimbabwe is the same one that gets in the way of progress in Ireland, in the United States, in China,… everywhere. Self interest. And not just the self interest of the ruling classes. All of us. We are all so consumed with getting an iPhone or a Macbook (I’m an Apple fan), or a new car or house or just protecting our persona space and security. We are all so concerned with our own issues that we don’t fight for others. So much so that we allow injustice to reign.
In the words of Matin Niemoller:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out
I think that when people start sacrificing heir personal interests for the sake of the general good, then things will really start to change. Otherwise, the changes will only be superficial.
Today, Zimbabweans are voting in presidential and parliamentary elections. It is true that the country is now on its knees and few would disagree that a radical change of direction is one of the few things that can turn things around. Withought a very significant change in government, I don’t see how that can happen.
Again, given the reality of Zimbabwe’s current political climate, there is no way this can be called a fair election. So far it is more fair than previous ones, but that’s not saying much. I don’t know… I hope it all goes well and there isn’t any violence.
At the end of the day, the Mugabe regime has shamed the entire continent. They have come to represent the very worst of Zimbabwe and Africa. Shame on you
My wife and I had some friends from Botswana over for dinner this weekend. Before long, we were going on and on about how wonderful life back home is. Nostalgia is a funny thing. It allows you to break free from reality just long enough for you to protect your heart and memory.
Anyway, our guests left in the early hours of the morning but the thoughts of home stayed with me. I had really good times. The thing I miss the most is the feeling of belonging. I could walk down a street and be totally random and anonymous. Having said that, I was always comfortable in the fact that I belonged there, connected to my country.
And then there was the fact that Zimbabwe is still a very communal place. Most people are more than just individuals. You almost always belong to something bigger than yourself. There’s your family, then their family then your local community. I had two local communities, work and church.
My workmates weren’t just people I worked with either. Although I was a doctor, there was more than one nurse that didn’t realise that I wasn’t their son. But I didn’t complain too often because you can’t ever have too many mums. When I was broke and hungry, my work mates fed and supported me. When I got married, I had workmates support me financially and emotionally.
I miss the bunch of clowns at UBH who called themselves doctors. If there has ever been a group of unsung heroes it is the staff at that hospital. Daily they put themselves at risk, caring for and treating people with HIV. Paid next to nothing, literally, working under trying circumstances yet doing the best job possible with an incredible sense of humour.
Then there was the church crew. Throughout college I had people from church pray for me, cry with me, help me with money, clothe and feed me. When in the space of a couple of years my mother lost her mother, sister and niece, her church community helped carry her emotionally and practically.
I don’t so much miss the place as I do the people. The place has record braking inflation, food, water and cash shortages, and all sorts of other issues. But it is home in a way that you could only understand had you experienced it. I really miss home.
Posted in life, people
Tagged belonging, Botswana, church, community, doctor, family, home, homesick, nurse, UBH, Zimbabwe
A couple of years ago, I shared a house with some friends. It was great. It was like going to your buddies’ place to hang out over the weekend without ever having to go home. We ended up being in each other’s business a lot but incredibly, we never really suffocated each other.
One of the things the three of us did was go to a gym in the morning together. Because work generally starts at 0800 in Zimbabwe, we’d have to get out of bed by about 0545. Staying up till 0200 playing FIFA on Playstation didn’t really help. And yes, Playstation is alive and well in sub-Saharan Africa.
We found that if we repeated, ‘today is going to be a great day’- despite being groggy and with eyes half shut – more often than not that’s how things worked out. The days we didn’t perform our ritual normally turned out badly on the gym front at least.
I know it sounds very ‘self help’ and unoriginal, but the truth is the truth, even when it isn’t fly. The things we say tend to alter our perception and our feelings are all about perception.
With that in mind, THIS IS GOING TO BE A GREAT WEEK! You’re welcome to join in.
I don’t know about you, but I love politics, and even more than that, I love watching elections. The best elections are close ones and they don’t come much closer than this year’s Democratic race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Baratunde Thurston has been involved in Obama’s campaign for a while now and I got this video off his website. It made me a little sad and a little jealous.
Zimbabwe has its very flawed presidential elections later on this month with Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai taking on Robert Mugabe. You won’t find many people wearing opposition nominees’ t-shirts or openly campaigning for them. There’s a sad lack of tolerance for different political views and very little respect for people’s right to choose their leaders. It’s such a pity. Things could, and should be so different.
Still, I look forward to the day that I can be involved in an election back home and not worry about who hears me supporting the candidate of my choice. One day…
Are the winds of change in the air? Pervez Musharraf has lost the elections in Pakistan and Fidel Castro has indicated that he is to step down as Cuba’s leader. That’s a lot to have happen at more or less the same time.
I think Musharraf sabotaged his legacy by trying to stop the inevitable: his exit from power. He turned the whole affair into a painful bloody process and few will be sad to see him go. Castro on the other hand isn’t so easily dismissed.
He is loved by many in Latin America for the same reason that most African leaders still stick up for Robert Mugabe. Both stood up to Goliath. Both have taken on superpowers and told them to go jump in a lake, and off course onlookers have loved them from it. It’s easy to get caught up in both men’s rhetoric and be impressed by them until you look at the cost of their actions.
In both cases, ordinary citizens have paid the brunt of the consequences. A friend who recently visited Cuba said he felt like he had travelled back in time. He was appalled by the poverty there. Having said that, Cuba’s health care system is arguably better than that of the Americans. The same could be said of their education system. But was it worth it? Would not making peace with the United States have served his people better? And didn’t ruling with such an iron fist, for whatever reason take away from his message?
Of Musharraf, Mugabe and Castro though, the only one with a chance of being remembered in a positive light is Castro. I wonder if the fact that he relinquished power voluntarily (sort off) has anything to do with it?
Posted in change, people, Politics
Tagged change, Cuba, dictatorships, Fidel Castro, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Robert Mugabe, US, Zimbabwe