Left for Dead

Happy Monday everyone! I would like to thank you again for coming and reading the thoughts I have to share with you today. I hope you are all doing well or at least keeping your head above water; sometimes that is all we can manage and if you are managing it, well done!

Throughout ‘civilisation,’ there have always been people/ groups/ entire communities/ countries who have been left for dead by the rest of the world but did not die. I had a conversation about this with someone who held the sad position that it would’ve actually been less evil if the forgotten or left behind would’ve just died as opposed to fighting for some semblance of existence after they have been left for dead. I see the allure of this argument because sometimes it is just like; what is the point? As I mentioned in the last post, I still cannot answer this “what is the point” question but I firmly believe that the ones left for dead would not be better off dead.

It is probably important that I elaborate somewhat on who I am referring to when I refer to people left for dead. In an individual sense, I refer to the poor. As much as we would like to believe that we have changed as a collective humanity, the truth of the matter is that we always leave the poor in society behind. We pretend they don’t exist and hope that somehow; on their own they will better their lives. I actually intend on writing a full post on this sometime in the future because of all the countries I have visited in my life, the common thing I see is how badly every society treats the poor. In terms of groups and/or communities, there are always marginalised groups within society who either ‘look weird’ or ‘behave weirdly’ who are left out of what it means to part of that society. They are the group left alone because for some unknown reason, the rest of society does not want to interact with them. In terms of entire countries, you all know them, mine is one of them. The countries whose history has been erased or re-written. The countries whose people are seen as lesser and the ones that are never considered in ‘global problems.’

In my part of Africa, death is never far away. With more Zimbabweans dying in their early thirties now, mortality has a seat at every table. The urgent, tugging winds themselves seem to whisper the message, memento mori, you too shall die. 

Peter Godwin, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa

Thus, my focus today on those who have been left for dead is the Zimbabwean people. For the life of me, I don’t get it. Never in my life have I met people with the same or even slightly similar spirit as Zimbabwean people. We are earnest, hard workers, always happy (truly I do not understand this one), we like to talk, we love strangers and we are very expressive with emotions. When I meet people in different countries who have been Zimbabwe, naturally, I always ask what their favourite part of the country was and 100% of the time, the answer has been “the people.” Zimbabweans are always smiling, even when something bad has happened (because we have a toxic habit of turning everything into a joke), but I think that is how we survive all that has been hurled at us. We smile at each other and we laugh together.

The sad part of this, I suppose, is how surprised I am that Zimbabweans are still so happy, because we have been forgotten time and time again and left to die. Sadly, that is what is happening; Zimbabweans are dying, from things that could easily be avoided. And why is that? because the people that are supposed to care, never have. I am currently writing my thesis on the desperate state of Zimbabwe and whether it can be attributed to the destabilisation caused by colonialism or the corruption and inefficiency of our independent governments. While writing, I realised that I don’t actually care about the answer to that question; I do not care whose fault it is that Zimbabwean people are suffering, I just care that they are. But if we are to tackle the question of blame, it is both to be blamed because all governments Zimbabweans have had treat(ed) the Zimbabwean people as dispensable. We have come secondary to capital, political influence and political ideology. We have been tools to create profit and we have never been treated as anything more than that.

But we have not died. After segregation, oppression, genocide, economic crisis, poverty, disease outbreaks… Zimbabwean people are alive and pushing through. I have always said that if Zimbabweans had to see the fruits of how hard they worked; if the work actually went into the country and not into the pockets of the nefarious then Zimbabwe would be one of the richest countries in the world. Because Zimbabweans work HARD but it is because that is all they have ever known. They have had to work hard since the dawn of time to just keep their heads above water. So while we struggle with one uphill battle after another, while I see people breaking their backs to feed themselves and their families, I will still never believe that Zimbabweans would be better off if they died. We have a spirit of survival and while we may have been left for dead time and time again, there will come a time when life is breathed into all of the lives of Zimbabweans who have managed to persevere through and we will live on for those who have not been so lucky.

“We’re hungry but we’re together and we’re at home and everything is sweeter than dessert.” 

Elizabeth Zandile Tshele a.k.a NoViolet Bulawayo

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