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.

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.