The Coloured Community

Los Angeles 2017:

Stranger: “Wow, you look so exotic, what are you?”
Me: “Coloured”
Stranger: [gasps] OMG, you can’t use that term!

Firstly, I was annoyed with being called “exotic” hence my blunt, one word answer and secondly, I was confused by how someone of a different race just told me how I should or should not refer to myself and my own race. After that, years of traveling around America and Europe taught me that “coloured” in Southern Africa meant something completely different compared to the rest of the world. Where I’m from coloured symbolises a community and a culture, whereas elsewhere it is a reminder of racist, derogatory terms used during slavery. So I got groomed into telling people that I am “mixed race” but I am not mixed race…

Both of my parents are coloured, which would mean that I am technically not a mixture of black and white, I am a coloured person made from two coloured people. Complicated…I know. However, my want and need to identify as coloured is not just about the technicalities of my racial makeup, it is about the meaning of coloured in my country. The history of our community is a sordid one which we have turned into a celebration of belonging. The beginning of coloured or mixed race people was a story of slaveowners raping their slaves and so came about mixed people. So we started from a violent and pessimistic story which then got worse over time. Because of how we came about, we were not accepted by either races. We were an embarrassment to both black and white and we fitted neither category. Even now, we are definitely not considered white but we are too diluted to be considered black either so where exactly does that leave us? It left us creating our own coloured community which is comprised of people who have never really belonged anywhere else.

We have our own neighbourhoods, our food, our accent and our own culture. You could go as far as saying we have our own language because when I use coloured slang no other person can understand me except a Southern African coloured person. What is more is that we relish in our culture, we are extremely proud of it despite its stereotypes and negative aspects. We cook our curries and have our braii’s wherever we go, our accent is strong and distinguishable and our party spirit (which is unmatched) follows us no matter where we are.

The top picture is my family members when they were younger (my mother’s generation). The picture on the left is my friends and I just last December and the picture on the right is my baby brother and I. As you can see, we are all different shades of brown but we all still identify as coming from the exact same community. We understand jokes that no one else will and we see life and each other in a different way. So, yes, I am proudly coloured and that word means more to us than people will ever understand.

Lately, however, coloured or mixed race people have become something of a trend which is both shocking and quite sad. Everyone suddenly wants little mixed babies with caramel brown skin and curly hair. So after we went from being the rejected race, we are now being fetishised into the ideal physical appearance. However, what is being done is what society does with everything; make the positive aspects of something trendy while never understanding the history or pain something carries with it. Yes being seen as beautiful in society is great but we found ourselves beautiful long before you did. What needed to come before the aesthetic appreciated of a mixed person was the understanding of how we have come to be and the struggles we have faced. The struggles of being called a ‘half-breed,’ ‘half-casts’ or as having no race at all. The struggle of being identified as drunkards, lazy, aggressive, school-drop-outs teen parents, incestous and a long list of negative stereotypes. While these stereotypes are not representative of us, we are far from perfect as a community but we are a proud community. We are thankful for each other and we will always stick by each other no matter the circumstances. So all of this is what you need to understand if you want to appreciate what it is to be coloured.

July 31st

Twitter.com/31July/04072020

Hello everyone. I hope you have all had a good start to your week and I would like to thank you again for coming back to read and for sharing my posts with your friends and family. It has been extremely interesting and exciting to have people message me on follow-ups on what I have been writing about. I never intended this blog to be a sort of investigative journalism space but I feel like it is unintentionally turning into that and I am ok with that so long as everyone remembers that I don’t really know anything. What I mean by that is that I am not intentionally eliciting any sort of action from anyone, my posts are intended to be thought-provoking and I am glad that they are getting people thinking. A handful of people messaged me after reading the last post asking what the solution to the problem would be and what they should be doing to protect the future of Zimbabwe. At that point, I realised what I had been unintentionally but subconsciously intentionally doing; getting people to react to what what was going on around them. But I truthfully do not know what we should be doing. A part of me, the pessimistic part, realises that the only cry that will be heard is that of violence but the other side of me would never dream of a Zimbabwe which was at war with itself or anyone for that matter. We have always been known as being peaceful, no matter the circumstances and I honestly would never want that to change.

So this leaves us where exactly? Zimbabweans are exhausted and there seems to be no light at the end of this tunnel. A few weeks ago, I had decided that I would remove my name from my blog; or at least change it because I was scared. People had suggested it to me but from the beginning of this blog, political expression was always a fear of mine. ZANU-PF: I know there are a lot of non-Zimbabweans that read this blog that won’t know this terminology as much as Zimbabweans would but I will try and elaborate in instances where I can. ZANU-PF is the current and only ruling political party Zimbabwe has ever had and they have made it crystal clear that freedom of expression, freedom of assembly or freedom of conscience are not freedoms any Zimbabwean’s possess. Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova and Hopewell Chin’ono are present day examples of the violence and corruption ZANU-PF uses to illicit fear in anyone who considers speaking up about their incompetence and lack of empathy in governing the country.

Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova are three brave and inspirational women who were protesting against mistreatment of Zimbabwean citizens during lockdown measures. They went missing after the peaceful protest for around 36 hours and when they were eventually found, it was discovered they had been abducted by police officers whose goal was to punish them and teach them a lesson about opposing the government. They were badly beaten, sexually assaulted and traumatised from the experience. They spent 2 weeks in hospital during which time they were ‘officially’ arrested for falsely claiming that they had been abducted by government officials. So, yes, after everything they had been through, they got arrested so that the lesson was not only taught to them but to everyone else who may have had the courage to stand up to the government. Hopewell Chin’ono is a Harvard educated Zimbabwe journalist who, despite the danger, reported on the corruption and looting of the current and previous governments. Chin’ono’s home was invaded and he was arrested by police officer for “eliciting public violence” through his plea’s for Zimbabweans to do something about the misery they are living in. Hopewell is currently still in prison and has been denied bail on no legal grounds. Both of these hopeless situations happened in the last two months. So, yes, I am terrified. But I realised that it would be quite hypocritical of me to hide behind a pseudonym or no name at all as I am writing for the purpose of change; mainly in the way people think, but change nonetheless. How can I preach that we need to do better for future generations and the future of our country and our world when I am afraid to show my face for causes that matter the most to me.

I have seen extraordinary things come out of Zimbabwe this year. People are actually speaking up regardless of the consequences it may have for them; I firmly believe that it is because at this point, many Zimbabweans have nothing to loose; they are fighting for their lives. People are making noise. There still isn’t as much noise as their should be but I am proud of my people who are petrified of going missing, being tortured and being killed. I understand the fear, I truly do but I have always said this and I will continue to say it until people understand: there is strength in numbers. The reason ZANU-PF has been able to continue these acts of tyranny is because these brave individuals usually speak up alone with little-to-no support, thus making them easy targets. If all of us say ‘Zvakwana’ at exactly the same time, what can they do other than listen to us? Zimbabweans have forgotten that the government serves us, that we hold the power and the longer we accept abuse, the further they will take it. That brings me to July 31st.

I haven’t been in Zimbabwe for a little over a month now so I will be honest and say that I do not fully know what is going on. Due to a countless amount of Whatsapp messages and social media posts regarding July 31st, it hard to know what exactly is going to be happening. Additionally, we know that president Mnangagwa has re-issued a lockdown and a 6pm-6am curfew for all Zimbabwean residents under the false pretences of covid-19. The reason for the lockdown is actually to stop people from gathering and demonstrating. There have been demonstrations by Zimbabwean nurses over the last few weeks, who refuse to work because of lack of pay and ill-treatment by the government. The president and the entire political party know that Zimbabweans have had enough and they know that if we stand together, they are finished. So they are preventing this at all costs. July 31st is supposed to be a day of demonstration by all Zimbabweans. It is supposed to be a day that we peacefully take to the streets to show the government that have had enough of their corruption, looting, violence and incompetence. I know many people are reluctant to take place for a number of reasons;

  • Our last march is not a positive example to look at because it gave us this government. We marched peacefully to end the Mugabe reign and it brought us an even worse ruler. In many ways, Mugabe had a soft spot in the heart of the Zimbabwean people and that awarded him 37 long years before we protested against him but the Mnangagwa government could not last 2 years with the most understanding and gracious of citizens so a change is definitely not something we should be afraid of.
  • Nothing will come of it. Well then we have nothing to lose.
  • Fear of covid. Wear masks and don’t touch each other. There are people all over Zimbabwe having house parties and going out so I think the covid excuse is being misused in instances that benefit people.
  • Fear of violence from the government. Obviously this is the most tricky one because this is a real and legitimate fear but I want to remind everyone reading this post that you are privileged. You have a computer or phone and internet access which means you have clothes on your body, a roof over your head and your belly is full. There are millions of Zimbabweans who are living hand to mouth, who do not know where they will sleep tonight or where their next meal will come from and that is because of the simple fact that our government is not taking care of its people. I am not asking you to die for these people but I am asking you to consider the fact that we are not them as a result of sheer luck, we were simply dealt a better hand and our children and children’s children could be living a life like that if we continue to ideally sit by as people are being mistreated all the way to their deaths.

I know for many people, it will be irritating to read this from someone who isn’t even in the country, someone who cannot stand on the street herself on July 31st but it is not a lie when I say that my heart aches not to be there. Regardless of the outcome of our last demonstration where upwards of 60% of the country took place, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt so powerful with masses of people chanting the same things as me and longing for the same things as me. Diaspora Zimbabweans forget that what happens at home effects them too even though they may not have to deal with it on a daily basis. Just because we aren’t there physically, it does not mean we cannot do anything, we can make noise, raise awareness and be there for those who are acting on our behalf. We are all in this together and I am certain that the course Zimbabwean history will be changed sooner than we think.

Re-Colonization?

Hello everyone 💕 It has been a while and a lot has happened since I last wrote.

I actually want to start the post today by paying tribute to someone special who was recently lost in our community. Death is a difficult thing and I think it’s even more difficult when it claims someone young; someone who had their whole life ahead if them. Miguel Antunes will be dearly missed by all of his friends and family and I pray for the strength for each and every one of you during this difficult time. 💗

(China in Africa: The real story)

Today, I would like to look at the somewhat dubious relationship Zimbabwe has had with China over the past few years. It is no secret to any Zimbabweans that behind all the smoke and mirrors, much of our country is being run by Chinese businessmen and politicians. Some might go so far as to say that our politicians have sold the country to China. Now, granted that Zimbabwe is a small drop in the pool of China’s current exploits, I think it is still something that Zimbabweans need to be weary about, or at least informed about.

When I arrived to Zimbabwe in December, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some construction was being done in the airport. But when I looked closely, I realised that the new section of the airport that was being built had Chinese signage. I was quite confused because Chinese is not nor has it ever been a language that is spoken in Zimbabwe. When I processed it for a little while, I actually wasn’t very surprised that this was happening, after all, there has been an influx of Chinese residents into Zimbabwe over the past few years. China wrote off a lot of our debts in the past years so some ‘accommodating’ signage is the least we can do right?

The China-Zimbabwe relationship actually started at the wake of independence. Robert Mugabe struggled to find support in the fight against Ian Smith and China reached out a long, unwavering arm. This a where a sort of love affair began between the two nations. Ever since, Beijing has always supported Harare and vice versa. Even when Zimbabwe was sanctioned by Western countries for gross human rights violations and China was encouraged to break ties, they did not. Instead, they offered political and economic assistance and bought gold (mines), platinum (mines), diamonds (mines) and real estate in the country to ‘boost’ the economy. Mugabe cherished the relationship and always had incredibly inspirational things to day about Xi Jinping:

“Here is a man representing a country once called poor; a country which never was our coloniser, but there you are. He is doing to us what we expected those who colonised us yesterday to do. If they have ears to hear, let them hear.”

(Robert Mugabe on Xi Jinping, China-African Cooperation Summit 2015)

It is understandable, when reading this to sympathise with what Mugabe meant. The country faced a lot of social, political and economic turmoil after independence and much of it can be attributed to the fact that the new politicians did not know how to govern the country they had just been given. A lot more support during the transition was expected from colonisers; in this case the British. Support that was promised and never given. So, no one really knew what to do with Zimbabwe; how to run an entire country, to follow through with what was promised to the people and to appease the international community. And again, China extended their other hand when Zimbabwe needed it and got more and more involved in the running of the country. But now that time has gone by, I do not think it was China giving to us at all, I think it was the other way around. Engulfed in the pressure and whirlpool of his mistakes, Mugabe let more and more of the country get sold. China was the only supporter of Zimbabwe or Mugabe for that fact but what was forgotten is that in politics there is no such thing is blind support. It has now reached a point where most businesses operational in Zimbabwe are Chinese owned and most political decisions are made with China as a main concern.

What is the harm? – I have actually heard people say this. Yes, our country is the most devastating state it has ever been in but accepting blind capital injections from outsiders will not fix our problems. What do we do when China decides they do not want to keep giving Zimbabwe a ‘free-ride’ or worse, when they decide that the country is theirs to take? What happens when China decides that Zimbabweans are obsolete? That what they want from the country can be achieved without Zimbabweans, which is the exact environment we are setting them up for right now.

(CNN.com)

This is what happens. It will start slowly, where there are sporadic cases of Zimbabweans facing abuse at the hands of Chinese bosses; just like this but I think the racism and xenophobia towards Africans in China at the moment tells us that it will not stop here. In this instance, an employee (Kenneth Tachiona) was questioning their boss on some late/missed pay, at which point the boss decided that it would be ok if he shot his workers. Although the shooter, Zhang Xuen was arrested for it, my confidence in the Zimbabwean justice system is nil and I am sure absolutely nothing will happen to him. Although the Chinese embassy claims this was an isolated incident, it was captured on tape so something tells me that there are many other ‘incidents’ which have gone unmentioned. There have been low murmurs of human rights violations on Chinese mines but there have been no actual reports on them, apart from this one, which was caught on tape. There have been some reports by the Zimbabwean Environmental Law Association (ZELA) that Chinese owned mines often operate under “dangerous, harsh and life threatening” conditions but I believe that our dependence on Chinese businesses will mean that none of these violations will be rectified.

I know that as a people, Zimbabweans are used to riding the wave. We let things get done to us time and time again and find ways to adapt rather than fight back. I believe this is our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. We need to wake up when it comes to situations like these and think of the future of our country. Obviously if it were up to us and not ‘our’ politicians, we would not be selling our country bit by bit but this is the current reality of what is going on. The question is whether or not we will do anything about it or, rather, whether or not we can do anything about it. The world is changing faster than any of us could have anticipated and I think now is as good a time as any for Zimbabweans to take charge of their own lives and their own country.

The Double Burden

Hello everyone! I truly am sending you all peace and love, it has been a tough couple of weeks.

Usually before I start writing a post, I decide what I will be writing about but this time, I couldn’t, I don’t really know what to write about anymore. So I’m kind of just writing as I go. A number of people messaged me over the past couple of weeks telling me that they were ‘excited,’ for lack of a better word, to read my piece on racism, police brutality, structurally racist countries – they’re all one in the same thing really. But let me be honest, I have been avoiding and even dreading writing about it and I have felt incredibly guilty about feeling this way. Don’t get me wrong, I do not feel obligated to write about it; I want to but I feel like I can’t. What is happening right now is not about my person experiences with race or my personal perceptions on race. Although I am a person of colour, what is happening right now is calling for me to listen and learn not to dilute the struggles being faced by adding my own layer of personal experiences. Furthermore, I believe that the point of talking about race is to get people to listen, to understand what is being faced by marginalised groups in society. I think there has been an incredible influx of learning material that have surfaced about race over the past few weeks and I think adding material such as personal opinions (which is what I do here) will lead to information saturation. I do not want that to happen because I want people to continue to educate themselves during these times. The thing is that, from the beginning of this blog, I always intend on discussing race but because race and female equality are two topics that can bring me to tears, they were things I wanted to wait to write about. Ironically, both these topics are currently ‘trending.’ – I hate that word, but it’s true, they are trending and much of the fervour that is present now will devastatingly die down.

Now, I just said that I wanted to speak about neither but look at me being ambitious and discussing both in one post! In terms of explanations, I do not think much has to be explained about the racism plaguing the United States; and I am so glad to see that people have been attempting to listen and learn. However, I do think the feminine issues need to be explained a little more as they are being quite overlooked at the moment. Women have been dying. Dying at the hands of men. I honestly am not sure what is going on or how it can be explained but sexual assaults and murders of women have been skyrocketing in African countries such as Nigeria and South Africa. Being a woman is hard… being a black women taxing to say the least… being a black, African woman is draining and being a poor, black, African woman…can you even imagine it?

We are being killed both for the colour of our skin and for being women. I say we, but obviously I have not been killed, I say we because every single time I hear about these horrendous things happening, a piece of my identity seems to go along with the story and with the person who has suffered. The actual person dying is a stranger to me but they are nonetheless my brother or sister; we were cut from the same cloth. That is why I find it so mind-numbing and emotionally draining that we still have to prove that we have the right to life. The right to life?! Never-mind the right to our own bodies which succumb treatment that constantly reminds us that they are not really ours. But the right to life? How is it possible that I have to fight someone about the right to life?

In the beginning of the George Floyd protests, I was pessimism if it were a person. I was devastated, emotional and shocked. I looked at what American’s were doing and my first thought was “what’s the point, nothing will change.” But I went through some hard introspection and I realised that yes, things are bad but things were worse. Our ancestors fought, suffered and died to give us the iota of freedom and equality we have now. I refer to both women and people of colour in this context. While it is unfair that we still have to fight for what is given to others freely, it is our struggle and we will always continue to fight with pride. Being a woman is beautiful, we carry the world on our shoulders and still give all we have. We love hard, we are strong and we need to stick together in these times of trauma.

I do not want to say that I know much about being black in the United States or about being systematically oppressed because of my race. For the most part, I have been shielded from systematic racism because of my social class and I have being shielded from a lot of the black stereotypes because I am mixed race. My fairer skin, curlier hair, mixed features and accent have made me ‘exotic,’ rather than black. I will be the first to admit that the mixed race community in Zimbabwe has its fair share of racism which is inexcusable. It is a result of colonial ordering of racial significance. It seeped in generation after generation to make mixed race people think they were somehow better than black people. This is something I want to discuss in more depth in a later post. My point is that I do not, nor will I ever understand what it feels like to be black because of how and where I grew up. But what I do know is that black culture, our culture in unmatched and we should never stop fighting rigorously for it. Everyone knows it, including the racists who try so hard to keep black people down. One might say this is the exact reason they try so hard because they know the strength and power that is in a black person. That knowledge and unexplained hatred. To my mixed race Africans, we need to realise that just because we have black ancestry, it does not mean that we are ‘allowed’ to be racist. We need to check ourselves as much as overt racists. I know a lot of it stems from our own identity crises but we need to do better. I say the same think to black Africans, it is believed that because you are black you cannot be racist. In a sense this is true, there are other words for black on black racism such as xenophobia and self-hate. It exists and we need to get our houses in order too. How can we expect others to respect us when we do not respect ourselves or each other?

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” —Barack Obama

This quote resonates with me because with hindsight, I am ashamed that I was one of the people who said what is the point in fighting. We have faced these same problems for hundreds of years and look at us, still fighting. It is hard to realise how far we have come when we look at the inequality, violence and torment we are still facing but we have done great things and we will continue to do great tings; women, people of colour and women of colour.

I’d like to leave you all with some words about the protests. Looting, corona, violence… there will always be criticisms and reasons as to why we should not be protesting. But it does not make sense to me why people should listen to their oppressors on how to protest, that defeats the entire purpose of a protest, no? Why do these people even feel entitled to comment on the way that we are expressing our hurt? Pain is a strong emotion and you will never understand why someone acts a certain way until you experience their pain. You will never experience our pain, this is not about George Floyd or Uwavera Omozuwa (a twenty-two year old university student in Nigeria who was raped and bludgeoned to death in her church). It is about years of pain, suffering and oppression. Yes corona is still very much around; killing people.. so you explain to me why there are still police officers and despicable men out killing innocent people when there is a deadly virus already doing that? I understand the disregard for the virus and for property. We have had enough. Criticising a protest comes from a place of privilege and I for one am proud of what has been happening in the United States and the rest of the world too. I wish that my fellow Africans could have the same enthusiasm and outrage for the things happening in their own countries but that is a post for another day. On that same note, I want to remind all my people of colour to be kind to one another. These are tough times and simply because someone is not posting on social media, it does not mean that they do not care or they are not in pain over what is happening. We do not know what people are doing or going through behind closed doors, we do not know any of these tradegies effect them emotionally or mentally. I too believe that silence is taking the side of the oppressor, however, I think that is applicable when you have a choice to ignore the situation (in this case, our white ‘friends’). Whether a person of colour posts on social media or not, they will be subjected to racism and whether or not a woman posts on social media, they will be subjected to gender inequality and violation. Social media has helped us to reach out to millions of people but it has also enabled us to exacerbate the feelings of helplessness and loneliness people may feel during these times. So now is not the time to judge and persecute… we all do what we can and that is enough.

If you have read this far, I hope you are at least an ally of the causes. If so, you can visit the Black Lives Matter website (www.blacklivesmatter.com) to educate yourself, sign petitions or donate to the cause. I have so far, been unable to find applicable websites/ petitions for the problems being faced by African women in particular and if anyone knows any sights please let me know and I will put it in my next post. ❤️

Once again, love to you all.

Get your Passport out of here

Happy Thursday beautiful people! I hope this has been a positive and fulfilling week for you all. I am here again to talk about something that has been on my mind for the past two years. Yeah, a very long time, I know.

(Wikipedia: Zimbabwe Coat of Arms)

As I have mentioned many times, I have lived in Zimbabwe for about 90% of my life. I went to one of the best private schools in the country (Chisipite Senior School). Putting my school aside, no one can dispute the fact that the level of education in Zimbabwe in general is incredibly high. I genuinely did not have a hard time adjusting to university because my high school had worked me to the bone and taught me more than I needed to know for tertiary education and I will forever be grateful for that. So, I want to make it clear that I am not speaking ill of Zimbabwean schools but simply pointing out how flawed the education system is in general, as are most of our institutions.

It first dawned on me that there was something wrong with the way I was educated when I realised that I could recite American presidents one after the other, I know all dates of most of the big European wars, I know most of politicians that were involved in European history, I know when they died and what they did… I know European and American authors and great literary works, I know the historical icons that hail from these places and I know about the successes and failures of Western institutions. I know more French than I do Shona (for those who do not know, Shona is the native language in Zimbabwe) and I even know about Middle Eastern conflicts and international diplomacy. All of this I knew before I even started my tertiary education. But if someone had to ask me about Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, the real details, like the ones I know about World War II, I would be blank. I don’t know what my country was like before colonisation, I don’t know where all my customs come from and I definitely do not know any of the leaders that existed before colonialism (if there was such a thing as leaders that is, as I definitely think hierarchical organisation is an extremely Western concept). I think I know one Zimbabwean author (I read the book and it was brilliant but for some unknown reason, I did not look for more). The Zimbabwean music I know, is the music they play in clubs and I do not have a single inkling as to how my culture has developed over time.

I do not blame any of my schools for not teaching me these things. After all, they were trying to do what was best for us; teach us about the West so we could someday go there and make a better life for ourselves. For me, it worked didn’t it, I am currently getting my degree and spewing my Western facts in all my classes and essays. After I graduate, I will probably get a job in a country that is not Zimbabwe and begin to build my life there. This path is seen as a huge success. From about ten years old, I was told by everyone, that the goal was to do well in school so that I could leave the country and make a better life for myself somewhere else. To enable this, our teachers had to teach us about all the things that would make us pass Western exams and have recognition that would get us out of the county.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that knowing about different cultures and countries is wrong but not knowing about my own is a huge disadvantage for your own growth as an individual. The worst thing is that most people never think about it, not only Zimbabweans but I know so many countries which teach the same way Zimbabwe does and the products of this system never stop to consider how little they know about their own country. And why should they? No one will every ask them about the history of their country. The ‘intellectual’ conversations that will always be had will be about the West so we will never be faced with the realisation that we are ignorant about our own countries. So it stands that if you want to be part of the intelligent conversations, to be considered educated, you have to know as much as you can about the major powers in the world and if you want to know about your own country it should be treated more like a hobby or general interest.

I said, two years ago, that I would make it a point to start learning about my country outside of school, but have I? No, because I am treating it as general interest…there is always something more important to know before I try and acquaint myself with where I come from. I know why this is; it is partly because I honestly don’t know where to begin and partly because I am embarrassed to ask questions about my own country because surely, by calling myself an educated twenty-two year old woman, I should already know the answers to these questions. But I don’t and in the grand scheme of things, in the goal of ‘getting out,’ it doesn’t matter that I don’t know these things.

To me, it seems that this kind of is education has caused conflict in the hearts of my generation. Our countries tell us we are liberated and we mean something in the world but in the same breathe, they do everything in their power to push us to understanding Western ways of life and suppressing our own. So where does that leave us? Having to choose between two different identities of who we are and who we want to be?

Honestly, I do not know the answers and I do not know how to fix the problem and that is why this has been on my mind for two years. I think this is something we all need to start thinking long and hard about. I believe asking these questions could lead us to learning wonderful and amazing things about ourselves, where we are going and the point of it all. In my first year of university, all my independent essays were all on topics I thought would make me sound more clever, none to do with Zimbabwe because I thought that it would be silly and no one would be interested. Now, in my second year, every chance I get to talk about Zimbabwe, I do… even though I never learn about it in classes, I teach myself and apply what I learn, to my country. My final dissertation is about Zimbabwe and it has been the most exciting and mind opening project I have ever undertaken. I have been beaming with pride with the relationship I have been growing with my country but when I really look at it, it is still within the constructs of what is considered important in the West. So, I still have a long way to go in trying to decipher where I have come from but I have began the journey.

Lack of Empathy During a global Pandemic

Hello readers! It’s good to have you back ❤️

“We’re all in this together” – A phrase that we have heard uttered countless times since coronavirus began to rob lives, livelihoods and freedom. But truly, are we all in this together? I have seen people taking advantage of this situation in ways that are devastating. It is showing us that even though the earth is telling us to slow down, to reevaluate, to look out for each other, the mentality of so many people is not changing. It baffles me how people can seek opportunity and profit in a time where everything about our current world views are being put into question. But maybe that’s why I’m not rich.

Let’s start with the main culprits in Zimbabwe, our government. The government has received international help in terms of supplies and money in order to help our fight against COVID-19, but where have these resources gone? Honestly, I don’t even know about all of the goods that have been donated to Zimbabwe because the government has been more than ambiguous about it. However, I do know that the United States embassy helped with USD150,000 towards coronavirus prevention through the purchasing of soaps, buckets, hand sanitisers and hand washing facilities. These funds are in addition to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s $470,000 contribution to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support Zimbabwe’s fight against COVID-19. The aims from the WHO were to support the health facilities in Zimbabwe so that they were ready for testing and treating. Although China’s help in Coronavirus is clearly an investment strategy, they have nonetheless attempted to provide help with the pandemic. According to online sources, the Chinese embassy has supposedly provided the Zimbabwean government with:

  • USD500,000 to improve the main Covid-19 centre: Wilkins Hospital
  • A donation of 216,000 masks, 1,000 goggles and 510 protective suits, 20,000 test kits and 5 ventilators
  • USD3 million to UNICEF Zimbabwe for developing clinics and local infrastructure.

I know, all of this sounds great! But, the problem is that the average Zimbabwean has not seen even one tenth of these donations make a difference to their lives. ‘Donations’ – that is exactly what these are supposed to be but the government is selling them to the people of Zimbabwe, the people who cannot afford them. I mean, if your main priority is making money and greed, it makes completely logical sense and could even be seen as ingenious to sell donated goods. Because it is essentially making money out of nothing. Truly, I don’t know why we are shocked by the corruption, greed and looting. I suppose I just thought that in times of such crisis, the government might actually consider the fact that there are Zimbabwean people dying and starving. None of these donations can be seen anywhere; Wilkins hospital is still in a decrepit state and one knows that if they are going there to get treated, they are going there to die. The test kits are ‘faulty,’ so no one bothers to use them and they are being charged at around USD50/ test. Which is a price that can hardly be afforded by middle class Zimbabweans, let alone majority of the country.

(TechZim.com)

Then we move to the issue of rising prices in the shops. In all honesty, I do not blame the shops for these increases, they have to do what they have to do to get by. I would say again, that this is the fault of our leaders. Our economy is struggling and COVID-19 is not helping, but it is the citizens of Zimbabwe that are unable to make ends meet. At the beginning of lockdown, the president promised to give the people of Zimbabwe 200rtgs/month to deal with coronavirus (for those of you who don’t know, rtgs is the currency currently being used in Zimbabwe). But there are two huge problems with this. Firstly, since the beginning of April not a single Zimbabwean has received their 200rtgs from the government. Secondly, 200rtgs can buy a person either 1kg of sugar or 1litre of oil but not both. With prices skyrocketing in the shops, 200rtgs is not even sustainable for a week. And truly, I wonder to myself, how are people surviving? Are people surviving?

“Education is a once in a lifetime opportunity to open children’s hearts and minds to the unbelievable wonder of the universe.”– Sir Anthony Seldon

Lastly, I want to touch on the issue of schools. This worries me intensely because what will the future of our children be if education is stopped during this period? Most public schools have not re-opened because they do not have the means to conduct online classes. However, these schools along with private schools have increased their school fees. Yes, you heard me right. In an environment where people are losing their jobs and unable to feed their families, schools are increasing their fees. To me, this was one of the saddest injustices to happen during this time. I understand and take into account that schools still have expenses and teachers to pay, however, with most of them not being able to efficiently teach children, this increase is completely unjustifiable. During this time there is going to be an entire generation of children who will not be able to continue school because their families simply cannot afford it. What about the future of our country then? In all honesty, the schools need to do better and realise that children need us all to step up.

I do not understand what is going on around me…Not everyone is fighting the same battles and this pandemic should be opening our eyes to bettering the world not taking advantage of the people who possess the least. I know that there are a lot of people who have been taking advantage of this situation for personal gain and I would just like you to understand that there are real lives behind economic gain.

Welcome to this SPACE

Hello everyone! However you got to reading this, I’m glad you’re here. After much debate with myself, I decided I would do an introductory piece. Initially, I thought it might be a bit boring and that the “About” section of this blog says what it needs to say. However, I realised that an introductory piece might actually be necessary to clarify what this space is about.

So, what am I doing? I am not entirely sure…I mean, I have an idea of what I am doing but this will be a trial and error thing until I truly find my voice and purpose. I have strong opinions on many things; Zimbabwe, politics, human rights, feminism, Africa, colonialism, social change, empowerment and so on. I intend on discussing these things all together because they are very much intertwined in the lives of all of us and in most cases can’t be separated from one another.

Much of the thoughts I have now on where I am from (and by this I mean culturally, geographically and ethnically), have developed faster than I could keep up with in the past year. This will be discussed in a separate piece, which will come very soon because this was a really interesting journey that I want to share with all of you. When I lived in Zimbabwe (all 19 years), I always had an intense sense of patriotism which I couldn’t understand or explain but I was never truly that interested in my country until I moved away. Ironically, education in a Western country, ignited a fire within me about where I am from, what it means and who I am. I started to see my country in a light I had never before because of the things people felt entitled to say about the place I was from. Consequently, it brought me here, trying to understand and explain why it took me so long to realise that my native language, food, culture, music and so much more, mean something; they mean more than I was ever taught that they did.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Steve Jobs

I think the first thing that needs to be clarified is that I will be talking to you from a perspective that is mine and mine alone. While I hope that I will represent the feelings and thoughts of others, I will primarily be writing about things I have learnt, seen and lived through. This needs to be clearly understood from the very first post so that people who may not like what I have to say understand that it is just one person’s perspective and yours will probably be different to mine.

Next, what needs to be explained is that I expect to speak about things I think and others think (I am open to topics suggested by others) are important. No matter how controversial or thought provoking, I will bring it up. However, as many Zimbabweans know, talking about politics in Zimbabwe or even human rights can be a very tricky situation and sometimes dangerous one. So even though my entire objective of this blog is authenticity and free-spokeness, there might be some censoring or implicit writing along the way.

My beginning pieces will probably be quite focused on COVID-19 which could either be exciting for some or disheartening for others. I understand that it is all we hear in the news these but I don’t think I have ever heard ‘Zimbabwe’ uttered in the news since all of this started (granted, I stopped watching the news about three weeks ago). And honestly, the Zimbabwean situation is both unique and very interesting. I will try and vary these pieces with random other ones which have nothing to do with COVID-19 until hopefully, COVID-19 meets its demise.

Lastly, (and this will most probably have it’s own post sometime in the future), I am African. But what I say, even when I talk about more general issues such as colonialism and resentment, is not representative of ‘Africa.’ It is a normal Western quagmire to forget that Africa is made up of 54 completely different countries. So, I ask that you do not generalise anything that I say because that will juxtapose what I am actually trying to do.

I hope I have enticed you enough to join me on this journey of understanding, exploration and empowerment because all of this will mean nothing if it does not resonate with you, the reader.

A Short Trip to Zimbabwe in Trying times

*Many of you who are visiting this page have already read this post on another website; the reason I added it as the first post on my blog is for people who haven’t read anything I have written, so that they can get an idea of how I write and what I am interested in writing about.

This was written in the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis for my university;

It took me days to actually start writing this piece because I just feel like so much has happened and there is so much that I would like to share with my community that I didn’t really know where to start.

I usually have a terrible memory but I have found that since all of this Coronavirus madness started, I have been remembering everything; specifically and poignantly. I thought of telling you all about the exhausting and chaotic four day journey I had to get home, how I was denied entry onto a flight because of last minute policy changes which meant I couldn’t transit through a certain country and of how I was stranded in the German airport. But, I realized that this ordeal suddenly seems irrelevant to the issues I seem to be grappling with now that I am home.

I arrived back home; to Zimbabwe on Thursday the 19th of March. After the journey I had, I felt a huge weight drop when I saw my mom’s face and realized that I was safe and home. When I arrived home from the airport, my brother came running to hug me and it was the most bizarre feeling to stop him and tell him that he couldn’t touch me when I was home. The fact that I had to tell him this actually made me realize that Coronavirus really hadn’t been an issue in Zimbabwe at all. Yes, people knew it existed and that it was spreading but it had not affected anyone’s life yet. This was actually great for me because after an extremely tense journey, I settled into a few days of normalcy. Yes, we took precautions like sanitizing and taking multivitamins but there was no panic whatsoever.

Sadly, things started to change a few days later when the cases around the world, and especially South Africa started to increase. More people started to fly back home and by the 23rd almost all of my university friends had come back home.

But as Zimbabweans, at this point, we did not know what to do because our government had not given us an ounce of information pertaining to COVID-19. We didn’t know if we should be panicking or staying home. Truthfully, I don’t know why I am saying this in the past tense because until now, we, as citizens, still have no idea what is happening in the country. Our government is not issuing any data nor are they conducting any tests so we have no idea how bad the Coronavirus outbreak is in Zimbabwe.

This was one of my biggest worries when I was grappling with the decision to come home. I knew that Zimbabwe does not have the capability to deal with such an outbreak; we have 50 ventilators in the entire country and barely any running water in most parts of the country. My inevitable decision was therefore based on two factors. The first being that I knew I would have been miserable stuck alone in the Netherlands, worrying about my family and friends. The second being that I knew I would feel extremely helpless from the Netherlands when masses of people from my home were suffering. Realistically speaking, there isn’t much I can do while I am here but I have been trying my best to raise social awareness to my fellow Zimbabweans, as well as urging businesses to close for the safety of customers. It has actually been a productive quarantine period for me in this respect, and while I am terrified for what will happen if the virus spreads throughout the country, I have so much hope that everything will be ok. I am not sure where the hope is stemming from because the odds seem so heavily stacked against us, but the hope is there nonetheless.

Our president finally decided to speak up and declare a 21 day quarantine period starting 30 March 2020. This was due to the fact that he could no longer ignore the problem and businesses were closing on their own anyway. Nevertheless, I hope that this helps us to curb the issue before it has spread on a mass scale. However, this solution comes with its own problems. European countries can afford to quarantine for an extended period of time (and they will still have serious repercussions from it). But a country like Zimbabwe, simply does not have the capacity to do so. There are an exponential amount of homeless people, where will they quarantine? The government did not address this issue at all. Additionally, Zimbabweans largely live through an informal economy and live day by day, therefore, close to 80% of the population will not be able to stock up food for even 2 days let alone 21. Employers do not have the means to compensate employees during these days and the government ignored this issue as well.

But what is the alternative? With inefficient hospitals and mass poverty, the alternative to an attempted quarantine is death. Zimbabwe still has an incredibly high HIV rate as well as mass disease outbreaks such as cholera and typhoid. Therefore, if Coronavirus were to reach rural and poorer areas, it is very likely that a huge portion of the population would be wiped out.

I hope everyone is safe and doing well and although it is easier said than done, remember to have a few Corona-free hours in your day to stay sane ❤️

Thank you for reading!