March 14, 2007
It’s Almost Supernatural
I have just returned from a 5 day road trip through Zimbabwe—one of Africa’s most repressive states. At the moment it is in the headlines for the unlawful detention and torture of the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (latest reports reveal he is in intensive care with a fractured skull).
Zimbabwe is a classic African tragedy. It is a land rich in minerals and agricultural potential. It was left good transport and communication infrastructure by European colonists. And ten years after independence (1990) it was the continents shining light with one of the best healthcare and education systems in Africa. But today by all development indicators it has regressed to pre-independence levels.
Literacy has fallen from about 80% in the 1990’s to a shocking 40%. Perhaps it’s not surprising in a country where most people face the terrible choice of either feeding or educating their children. And I can personally attest to the outcome. Milton, one of the former Rhodesia’s premier high schools, at its peak had a student body that numbered over a thousand. Today with a much larger general population, the school’s pupils number in the hundreds.
Children of school going age now roam the streets of major towns looking for work or hand-outs to help supplement there families meagre income. In fact with an average life expectancy of only 37 (it was 78 in the 1990’s) many of these kids are actually their families’ only providers.
We read regularly about the Zimbabwean economy being in freefall with inflation of over 1,000% but we rarely consider hyperinflation’s human toll. The horror of ones entire life savings wiped out and the fear of not knowing how one will be able to afford bread at next week’s prices. The physical manifestations of economic collapse are everywhere.
I had the privilege of spending some time in Bulawayo’s remarkable Jewish community and was fortunate to get a chance to speak to some of its foremost personalities about how the community continues to survive despite the hostile conditions. I also managed to explore the remnants of Bulawayo’s main synagogue and attended a family unveiling at the Jewish cemetery (the purpose of my visit).
Zimbabwe is very raw in my mind. I am still trying to process and evaluate all that I have seen and heard. But hopefully over the next few weeks I will be able to get my head around it and blog about some of my experiences and post some of the jarring images I managed to capture on camera. I hope that my upcoming series will move your analysis of the situation out of the realm of shocking statistics and convene the extent of the human tragedy and at the same time the remarkable resilience of Zimbabwe’s people.
Robert Mugabe - President of Zimbabwe
His Excellency Robert G. Mugabe (The President). Official Home Page
(right, is the photo that greets you, bizarre URL as well - mugabe.netfirms.com but it's got to be a pisstake)
After the recent spate of biased and mischievous reporting by the colonialist foreign press, I have ultimately decided to reveal to you, the honest and hard-working citizens of Zimbabwe, a little more of Mugabe - The Man.
I know you love your leader as much as you love your country. I know you deserve to see what kind of man I am. To those of you that already know me, this will simply be a joyous refresher of your cherished memories of me. To those with the still unfulfilled desire to know me better, I welcome you to an intimate glimpse of Mugabe - The Man.ENTER [where you are presented with the photo, right)
and the Mugabe sense of humour.
Hmmm. Maybe I should have layed off those baked beans at lunch.
UN meetings are ideal for a snooze. They are always on about the same stuff....human rights this and democracy that....bunch of pretentious monkeys!