Zimbabwe Gets Me

Awhile back, my good friend BadHareDay in Lisbon, mentioned that he would like to see me talk more about what is going on in Zimbabwe and all the terrible things going on there over the past years. Although I’ve occasionally followed his wishes, and written about what’s going on there, the fact is I don’t often say the word Zimbabwe on the blog.

Which makes me wonder: why is that? I ask myself this as I sit down to write tonight, exhausted after two days of frisbee playing and nagging leg cramps. The only answers I can think of are possibilities; possible explanation for my choice not to make frequent references to the country and events unfolding there. You may not like all of them, but here they are:

To be completely honest, and obviously risking great condemnation now from readers, I actually thought the policy of redistributing land had a valid arguement behind it. (INITIALLY!) Obviously now I do not feel that way and the results have certainly been disastrous, sad, and a crime against humanity. But at that time, I looked at the situation in the country and on a very basic level I thought: why are all the big farms owned by white people? It struck me as odd and a sad fact. So I heard the idea of redistributing land and I thought — maybe this is what has to happen to finally stop the great income gap between black and white Zimbabweans.

Looking back, of course, we all know it didn’t take long for that idea to become a clearly destructive idea. As the country would lose its ability to feed itself, people would go hungry, and the government would continue on its path of iron fisted human rights violations and crack downs of all kinds. Perhaps this new reality was simply so sad and permanent feeling, that I had nothing new to add to what was already being said in the media.

So today I read somewhere on BBCnews that the government was taking steps to let white farmers acquire farms again. As the confiscated farms had been so mismanaged and unproductive since the evictions began. I think they called it an about-face of policy, presumably due to the lack of food and terrible shape the economy is in.

This has all been going on for years now, and I still struggle to understand Zimbabwe fully. I’ve read the history, watched events unfold, and even now I find it very confusing and moreover, frustrating. I guess a better place to read about all this is on “This is Zimbabwe” and not here. I somehow feel insufficiently informed or experienced to make sense of it all here on the blog.

Clearly a podcast topic for the near future.

3 Comments

  1. […] I was reading Bicyclemark’s entry about Zimbabwe and was thinking I feel the same way about old Rhodesia. When land redistribution first hit my radar my reaction was that it made sense. It still does but the way it was handled by Mugabe has been horrible. I have been thinking about Mugabe and Zimbabwe recently for two reasons. One is that I am reading “The White Africans – From Colonisation to Liberation” by Gerald L’ange and reading about the Boer War, Afrikaaners, English Colonialism and the European scramble for Africa. The other is that Robert Mugabe is coming to Malawi next week because they are naming a road after him!!! I haven’t been able to find out where he will be while here and only that the road is in the south. Some say he was invited because there are 3 to 5 million Malawians living in Zimbabwe (Malawi and Zambia used to be Northern Rhodesia) and that in the past Malawi received lots of food from Zimbabwe when they were doing well. There are still many Malawians that do not want him here and there may be some protests when he visits. But the book is reinforcing feelings that some type of land redistribution would have worked. I have even met some White Africans from South Africa and Zimbabwe that believed it could have worked if done properly. By properly I mean to have a transition period where those that would be taking the land would be trained on the modern farming techniques. Difficult yes but there would have been a higher success rate than what was implemented. What Mugabe did was as useful as handing me a farm and expecting I would have a clue of what to do with it. […]

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