Posts Tagged ‘Zimbo Living’

Don’t Lose Your Grip Zimbabwe

Those of you who are crazy enough to read my blog on a regular basis will know that I moved to Zimbabwe this year because I’ve loved the amazing culture of hope since I was 12 years old. You’ll also be aware of Don’t Lose Your Grip and our friend Lacey Crawford.

For those of you who might have missed it: Don’t Lose Your Grip is a charity concert and fashion show aimed at raising money [along with much needed awareness] for eating disorders, self injury (aka cutting aka self harm) and mental health issues such as depression. We’re relying on Musicians to volunteer their music for a good cause and to help us show that charity really doesn’t have to be boring. Our models are ALL normal people who want to help us promote positive body image or simply those who are recovering from / trying to live with an eating disorder. DLYG is aimed at ending the judgement and rebuilding self confidence.

We live in a tough world where you are criticized for believing in yourself and told you are a failure because your hair is the wrong colour or your figure doesn’t resemble Barbie or whatever the latest super model’s name is. In Milan this year, they were using MEN to model WOMEN’s clothes!!! So now we’re supposed to look like men in order to look attractive?! Come on!! This mess the media and our society has created over the ‘perfect image’ is not just leading to total confusion and terribly dangerous eating habits, it is also causing a lot of self hate and building on existing depression.

Cutting, eating disorders and suicide, very different symptoms of the same problem are gaining on us. The problems being alienation and depression; the symptoms: cutting and suicide. Personally I don’t know one single person who does not at least know of 2 such victims. This is a global problem and we are ALL affected! Chrisselle started DLYG because she’s tired of seeing her friends suffer in silence and feel so helpless that they take their own life. And so am I!!!

That is how DLYG Zimbabwe was born. This global problem of ours needs our attention right now! I know that Zimbabwe has a lot of other issues that some may say take precedence and to some extend I agree but that doesn’t mean we can ignore mental health and wellbeing. If we are dumb enough to ignore these problems right now, it will lead to devastating affects we, as a country, have no means to defend against.

Living with disrupted power supply; limited communication with the world outside Zimbabwe unless you use technology from down South; driving down roads where there are more potholes than actual tar left; looking at fields that use to be known as Africa’s breadbasket only to see wild flowers and dirt there instead of maize; walking into any shop in the country and seeing the face of The Man who has forgotten what the word ‘president’ means and being the last of your family still remaining in a country most of the world has written off can be very depressing!! You cannot honestly tell me that you are not saddened by what you see. But the amazing thing about Zimbabwe is its people! The hope that exists in their hearts is second to none! Zimbabwe is a rich country not by monetary standards but by heart!

So I urge all of you, to stand with me and acknowledge that you see the person standing next to you; that you see their suffering [depression]; that you see their cries for help [cutting, eating disorders] and that you help me raise awareness so we can help each other.

Keep your faith in humanity strong,

AM

Update On The President

Ok, I have recovered from grossing myself out and can now move on from blood diamonds to the uniqueness of the Zimbabwean president.

When I was 12 Robert Mugabe was the only person I hated. Seriously, I had some intense rage issues and if you dared to bring up his name in my presence, I would go all politician on your ass! Just take a second to appreciate the visual of a 12 year old girl [and I’m short and use to be blond] rambling off facts and making complete sense in the presence of a group of educated men 3 times her age with this fire in her eyes that made these ex-military [compulsory at the time] men actually step back. My hatred was pure.

But then I grew up and the more I discussed this topic [and believe me I brought it up in every school paper I wrote, debate I attended and political meeting I went to] I also discovered how easy everyone found it to blame Bob. I’ve always believe “if everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking very much” so I started listening to the arguments from a “defending the president” perspective. Many years later I now know that I was right to question those who blame Mugabe for everything that is wrong with this country.

He has always been an easy target, after all he is the president so the buck stops with him and if everything sucks, it was ultimately his responsibility. Secondly, he had such a huge following that no one would dare mess with him even though they blamed him for their troubles. Thirdly and most importantly: he made it so easy to hate him. A lot of journalists use the phrase ‘puppet’ and keep saying that the president [and this is true for most countries] is being controlled by investors from other countries and not really ruling the country as such. This is a great story the real puppet masters love! Let’s face it, if you can be patriotic and blame another country for your president or even your whole country’s problems, then why would you look for the real culprit inside your own borders?

Want to know who the real puppet masters are pulling Uncle Bob’s strings? The top five… Yes it really is that obvious and that simplistic. The guys already running the country are the ones pulling the strings behind closed doors too. Dear OLD Uncle Bob is way past his prime and hasn’t had much to do with any real decisions lately. But here’s the beauty of these puppet masters [actual admiration for their sneaky mastery] they have the world so ganged up against Mugabe that even his own people are not willing to die for him anymore. He is truly alone! He has no one who will protect him or even believe him. He lives in fear not just from some rogue suicide bomber who’ll crash into his car or risk taker who’ll pretend to be on the medical staff and bring on his end that much sooner, no he also has to fear the people he put in power. The ones he moved through the ranks with; invited to his wedding and shared Sunday brunch with. And who does a dictator complain to when corruption finally catches up with him? He’s out of options.

The reason I’m bringing this up now is because as I’m typing this, there are fierce negotiations taking place at state house to figure out what happens in the event of the president’s death. Most countries have a deputy that’ll take over until elections but there is no way the puppet masters will let that just happen. Frankly I’m grateful for that, because unfortunately a bad leader is still better than no leader and I do not want to be around when all chaos breaks loose. Plus you also have Tsvangirai who’s technically-in-theory-on-paper-suppose-to have control of running this country, which complicates matters further.

If you’ve read my previous posts on elections and Africa’s revolts, you’ll know that I honestly don’t believe this country will magically get better when Bob is out of the way, you need a good leader to back or history will just repeat itself. With the Top 5 calling all the shots and no one even suspecting them as the culprits, they can easily push through the next guy they choose [and it really can be anyone]. They stay in control and continue running this country into the ground while the new president will do whatever they say either out of ignorance believing they are sharing their honest guidance or because he is so grateful for what they have given him or more likely fear of losing what they gave him. I can guarantee you that the new guy will be younger [well, duh there aren’t many people older than Mugabe still in this country] and thus have more time to do the Top 5’s evil bidding before someone will finally put an end to it.

So what is the point of me telling you any of this? Well it is no secret that Uncle Bob is on his way out and I just want to make sure that you don’t celebrate his departure too much… With him gone, the people will lower their guard and believe that everything will get better, which will make it easier for the puppet masters to blindside you and get you to vote for potentially the last president this country will have in your lifetime. All I ask is that you stop looking at the puppet and place your anger where it belongs: on the guys calling the shots behind closed doors. Don’t take what they say at face value and believe that Mugabe is the only evil in this world.

Use your brain and think for yourself so that when you make a cross next to a candidate’s name, you know that he or she is the leader you will get not just the puppet you will blame.

Just sharing my view,

AM

Zimbabwe Farming Update

In honour of all the Independence Day celebrations, I figured it’ll be a good time to give you little update on the country from my perspective. Three major things are mining, the president and farming.

Let’s start with farming. When I got here in November, there were about 100 white farmers left on farms they actually owned. Since then 20 of those farmers I personally know, have been vacated or as locally referred to it: they have been Jumanjied . Obviously it makes sense that there have been others I don’t know about, leaving us with 80 odd white owned farms. I’ve discussed this before but will just recap briefly: the white farmers aka ‘original farmers’ were the ones to put the infrastructures in place and obviously has way more experience on the lands they grew up on than someone who’ve spent their whole life learning a different trade and this is basically why the country’s natural crops are so weak. However it really isn’t that simple. First you have a couple hundred of these ‘land grabbers’ who just like having the property and were perfectly happy leasing it back to the farmer it was taken from. Then you also have a couple of willing-seller-willing-buyer farms that are doing alright, since the guy who bought it actually wants to farm and as he has invested his money in it by paying for it [albeit at a reduced rate] he is more driven to succeed and actually produce crops. Plus, there is a sense of respect towards these buyers from the original farmers, so they are far more likely to share relevant information on the land that will help the buyer produce proper crops. So to say that there are only 80 real farmers left in the country is mistaken but unfortunately that number is so close to accurate that it doesn’t really improve the country’s standing. Zimbabwe use to be the leading country in all things agricultural… in the entire world! They were the best, in farming communities they are still revered and have been bought by other countries in Africa as well as Australia and New Zealand. So to now say that there are [even if you double the number to] 200 real farmers in this naturally rich country, is really dire!

Obviously the situation is not helped by the way in which the hand-over comes to pass. In simplistic terms a guy who is part of the government’s party will say he wants that farm; the party will then go to the land office and tell them what is happening. This is where most of the fighting actually takes place lately: the land office looks after the interest of the land and crops and in general farming and they have recently come to the conclusion that giving great lands, ready for harvesting, to someone with little to no experience is not exactly in the best interest of agriculture. Which is why they are increasingly standing up against the government party and fighting for the original farmer to keep at least a piece of his land. However the government is rarely willing to accept this and the war veterans come out on both side of this argument so it can get complicated. Mind you, at this stage the farmer is not even aware of any of this yet. Yes, most of them live in fear -as do most business who haven’t adhered to the 51% rule- but until that guy comes knocking on their door, they still know nothing. 

So then this representative [or more accurately group of party supporters] pitches up on the farm and tells the farmer he has 3 weeks to move off the farm or he will be removed. By the way, when they say ‘removed’ it is meant in the most threatening manner! Now as shocking and frustrating and aggravating as this is, sadly the farmers have gotten use to it and sort of expect it every day they wake up, so in a sense it is ‘normal’. I don’t know how many of you have ever been on a real farm but if you have, you’ll know that not only are the houses pretty big as in you have a lot of furniture and stuff to get out when you move. Also there are workshops and tractors and all the other bigger equipment that goes with your particular type of farm. Generally there is also a huge amount of scrap that has been gathered throughout the years and kept because it might be useful, that you need to deal with. Besides all of the earthly possessions, you also have to consider the live stock and your workers. It is rare that these new owners continue to use the farm’s workers, which is another reason so many of them fail. Considering all of these things is quite stressful under planned and desired circumstances but since this has pretty much blindsided the farmer he also has the added stress of figuring out where to go. Everything he owned and worked for, his dad worked for and his family has built is on that piece of land. Now it is no longer his. Most of these farmers invest all of their savings into their crops and most of these land repossessions happen right before harvest time. So not only is this farmer being forced off his land that he has invested everything he has ever earned into just so that the new owner can walk in and make an incredible amount of money, he has nothing to start over with. 

And of course while the farmer is trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, the fighting at the land office still continues and generally 10days in they reach an impasse and the party members decide to Clause 17 everything. So now the farmer has 24 hours, not a second more and not even the courtesy of a personal representative delivering the message: just a phone call from the land office. However the final nail in the coffin is seeing this new owner drive up in his brand new D4D and start moving into your house while they have already popped opened the first beer.  It’s pretty depressing to see but then you also get to experience how the community and friends make a plan and somehow help this farmer back to his feet against all odds. No wonder this country has such a strong culture of hope! 

The reason I bring this up is because my mother is coming to visit in 5 days and she grew up in this beautiful country. I’ve had to explain to her that she’ll have to look a little bit harder to find that beauty 20 years on and should be prepared to see once flourishing lands left in total emptiness. Where there once were crops there is now grass and dust. 

There is also another glimpse of hope that comes from the outside world. It’s sort of ironic that so many years after Zimbabwe gained its independence, the country they gained it from is offering to pay up for the suffering that is being caused after they left the country to its own devises. The farmers who’ve had to give up their land can claim back the infrastructure they invested from the British government. All you need is all of your documents and books for the last 40 years. That by the way was not sarcasm. This is a really good thing and great that the British government is accepting responsibility or rather admitting that these are consequences from a war they made these farmers fight 40 years ago against the African tribes. Obviously most farms don’t keep records that well so they’re having trouble getting the paper work done. But again there is hope: a guy who does Lost Documents and can help you find the documents or figure out how to get the numbers to add up. This is also useful for those people who, out of anger and resentment, burned their books when they left the farms. The only catch is that this guy charges quite a few bucks as it really is a lot of work and checking back logs takes a lot of time. However, if the British government keeps their word and pays out, it really will be worth your while.

Ok, this post went on a lot longer than I anticipated so you’ll have to read about mining and dear old Uncle Bob in the next post.

Sharing my view,

AM

All over again!

It’s been a while since I posted something. Partially because I’ve been writing things for my baby cousin instead and spent a little time telling the people in my life what I was thinking directly and not via social media.

It’s paid off. I’ve been having a bit of a hectic month. I’m looking for a new job; the place we were supposed to move to at the end of the month is no longer available so I desperately need a room to rent and my mother and her boyfriend are coming to visit in 2 weeks which is quite stressful. It’s not that I don’t love seeing my mother or that I don’t miss her, we just have a long history and as with all Virgo’s in my life I tend to get really stressed out in their presence. All of these crazy things were messing me up to the extent where I was withdrawing from the one person I love most in this world.

I was getting snippy and overreacting to everything JS was saying and it got to the point where I considered pretending to be asleep when he got home so that I wouldn’t have to talk to him. That sucks!!! So the other night he came home really really late and I was a bit sick so I was actually sleeping and he sat next to me on the bed and woke me up and said: “I’m sorry” At first I thought he meant sorry for waking me up, so I just said fine and turned around to continue sleeping but he gently tapped me on the shoulder and said it again: “I’m sorry” And I got it this time!

I can’t really explain how many feelings and emotions came rushing at me that very second but to be able to hug him and hold him and just have a whole conversation with one touch is something truly magical. Anyway, we talked and we said a lot of the things we were keeping bottled up while we were walking on eggshells and as it turns out we have the same fears and doubts. Now that it is out in the open it is so much easier to just be around each other again.

It’s like we get to stop being mad at the situation and focus on all the things we love about being together. This morning I woke up and I couldn’t stop smiling: no matter what! I just keep seeing him and it’s like I fall in love with him all over again every time I hear his voice or think of him. Being in love is amazing but falling in love with that one person you truly love all over again, is even better. We tend to get so distracted by all the crap in our lives that we forget about the amazing people we have to share this life with. 

No matter what life throws at you: You are not alone! It might feel like you are; you might not be able to see how much the people around you care but ultimately, they are still there. You are not alone, so don’t pretend to be. Don’t cut yourself off from the ones who love you, don’t bottle up your emotions, let it out…

 I’m a little out of practice with this whole sharing thing but basically it comes down to this: I love the people in my life and if I let them, they’ll love me too.

The end,

AM

Dictator of the day

I’ve been staring at this page all day while trying to avoid getting into any political conversations. It didn’t really work.

Even my mother started talking politics to me and that never happens! I guess it’s just the times we live we. Gone are the days when only the law makers and ministers discussed politics over breakfast. Now it is us, the average person doing whatever it is we do and it’s not just over breakfast or at special occasions. Now we talk politics on social media while we’re discussing which celebrity got arrested last night and it’s normal… we talk about politics like it’s our business.

And that is great! It is our business! As much as we’d like to pretend we can separate ourselves from our government, we can’t because their choices impact us. We can’t just let them go on pretending to be above the law. And I guess it is this realization that has lead to the many protests in Northern Africa. We are the people and it is our countries that are being destroyed by greedy leaders who care about power more than poverty.

We are the people and it is our families who have to carry the consequences of our actions. Our children have to live with the people we voted into parliament. And now we are expecting our children, who’ve lived their whole lives under this suppression, to stand up and fight. Well sure, they are motivated but their motivation comes from hatred and frustration. Is that really the type of people we want ruling our country in the long run? Is that really the legacy we want to leave? This type of anger and hate leads to an ‘it was done to me so I will do onto others’ mentality. This is why countries have such a hard time breaking the cycle of suppression.

One of the African countries that have actually become the model of all transitions [even used in Ireland and several countries in Europe] has been South Africa. They went from full on Apartheid and whites only bathrooms to wearing the same rugby jerseys in the 5 years between Mandela’s release and winning the Rugby world cup. They got a Nobel Peace Prize for it. And even though Madiba said: “Never again will this country suffer the oppression of one by another” in no uncertain terms… some are still angered by the past and several who aren’t old enough to remember the past are feeling that same anger building up because they are now being ‘punished’ for their ancestors choices. South Africa has to fight this battle every single day and fortunately they have figured out that sport really does help the process of unity… well at least while they’re winning.

My point is this: it’s not fair to pin your hopes on the youth and say that they are stronger and fiercer in the fight for freedom. They may have strong reasons they believe in for fighting or more accurately protesting but what happens then? What happens when they win and they get the bad guy out? Are you seriously expecting these kids who’ve endured so much suffering in their short life time to not hold a grudge? A grudge against anyone? Be realistic: we need to change this revolution.

This way of fighting is not sustainable. Fighting against everyone who has done something to harm them cannot teach our leaders of the future how to be fair and good. I’ll say it again [the same thing I’ve been saying for the last 2 months] we need to find a leader to fight for not just one to fight against. Think about it for a second. Having a common enemy has a tendency to unite people but once you have destroyed that enemy, what do you still have in common? Maybe the celebration party will hold you together for a while but sooner or later one group will want to claim that it was their idea and then you’re back where you started: divided.

We seem to be doing things backwards. We need to find someone who will, in the long term situation, unite us and fight for us or at least stand by us while we fight. Until we have that one person who can take over from the dictator of the day, we are fighting a losing battle. Of course I agree that getting rid of dictators is not a pointless act but I’ve just been raised to focus on sustainability and well, getting rid of bad leaders without replacing them with a good one, run the risk of allowing another immoral leader to take his place. And my fear being that this leader is younger, so he will have more time to destroy his country. If you’ve ever been part of a revolution or protest like this, in the actual country that is under duress, then you will understand how frightening it is and how much it takes out of you, not just physically but also emotionally. This is why protests like this do not happen within another 20 years of the last. A country needs time to recover; a people needs time to heal and a government in the mean time has free reigns because the people are still comparing them to the dictator that they just crushed. Face it: compared to a dictator most leaders will seem brilliant.

I keep looking around and wondering why it is Africa that is going crazy at the moment and then I remember that it isn’t just Africa with messed up leaders. Europe still has issues from their past haunting them and who really knows what’s going on in Asian? Are we the only ones fighting for freedom? No! Of course not! Are we the only ones whose lives are actually being endangered by peaceful protests? No! Of course not! Are we the only ones being arrested for watching the news? Well… maybe… But so what? Freedom is worth risking everything for! Right?

I am a long term planner, so if I do not see a positive outcome that will benefit my children, I will not risk my family for a small victory. It has been said that you need to pick your battles and once you do, you need to make sure you do not lose! Unfortunately getting rid of the sitting president is not my definition of a victory. My definition of winning is having a fair and just leader who can not only fix the mistakes his previous president made but also lead his people into a democracy where they will feel represented.

Obviously I cannot offer a solution or a leader. But this entire revolution has been based on people speaking out and standing up for all the things they believe in. The essence of freedom. So you can judge me all you like and call me names I hope my children will never have to learn but I am not willing to protest against something. I am all for protesting for something or someone but the negativity that comes with fighting one idea, rather than for one, is not worth it. Not to me.

Just sharing my view,

AM

Justice be our shield #Feb28

Our friends in Kenya are taking a stand! But it is a very peaceful stand… They are not taking a stand against their government but rather standing up for their country.

Today, 28 February 2011, at 1pm they will be singing their anthem. That’s it! As simple as that. At 1pm everyone, where ever they may be, whatever they may be doing, they will stop and sing their anthem. No pig protest, no conflict with the military, just a simple gesture to remind themselves that they are still one country and that they believe in the same things.

With all of the violence and revolts in Northern Africa it is a relief to see a country stand together not just because they are fighting some evil villain who calls themselves president but instead a country that stands together and says: “Justice be our shield and defender. May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty”

Now I know that there are many issues facing Kenya and half of them I can’t even begin to describe because I have not been there but this is a great act of solidarity. It’s not always about bulldozing your point across and forcing change, sometimes it is wiser to take a minute and plan how this change is actually going to be the right change. To go back to your roots and figure out where it went wrong and how we will prevent it from happening again and basically just taking a step back and allowing your faith to overrule your fear. Of course I’m not saying that we should all remain quiet and just pray behind closed doors, not at all, I am all for free speech and action is my middle name but violence, however peaceful the intentions may have been, does not work. Simply protesting and eventually wearing your opponent down is not a sustainable option because you still have to fix their mistakes. I don’t have the answers for fixing all of Africa or even just Kenya’s problems, believe me if I did I would most definitely share! But as someone I met this morning said: Following is just as important as leading.

Look, Kenya is not like any other country in Africa, I know the world always likes to place Africa in a box like we are all alike but that is not the case. And obviously with similar uprisings throughout Africa, the media is enjoying flaunting these similarities but there is no country like any other country. We all have our issues but like our languages and our cultures vary, so do our problems. You cannot use a ‘copy paste’ method and think that it will work in every country. For Kenya it is smart and safe and probably highly effective to simply pause their lives for a few minutes and sing a prayer. Remind themselves what it is they believe in; what it is they want to fight for and believe that they can be the difference and that they can bring about change, without resorting to acts generally followed by violence.

It’s great to say that we are making a difference and taking a stand and causing change but just remember that the focus behind all of this passion is your love for your country. South Africa has a motto this year that encourages their people to love their country in any way they see fit. They are sharing their pride and their own unique way of being patriotic. The people in Tunisia and Egypt must have had the same motivation for their protests. Don’t you dare judge the people of Kenya or even Zimbabwe for not actively protesting in the same way, you cannot conclude that they love their countries any less, simply because they are choosing to be more cautious in their more hostile circumstances.

Is there a greater testament to love for your country than singing your anthem proudly? I don’t believe there is. Bring focus back to the love for your country [you know, the one you’re willing to fight for] rather than being concerned about the way the world wants you to show your pride. I have always believed that it is the little things that determine the big things so something seemingly small like singing a prayer, might just be that one little thing that forces the people of Kenya [government included] to be better at spreading the love.

Don’t do it because you want to be patriotic; don’t do it because you don’t want to feel left out; don’t do it because the world expects it from you; just do it because you love your country!

Sharing my view,

AM

Treason

So here’s the deal on treason: basically if you do anything the current government objects to but don’t have a defined law against, they pull out the treason card.

In this particular instance, the treason card is being pulled out for owning a satellite decoder for your TV. Yeah, I know: I haven’t been able to stop laughing either. In a weird way it makes sense or rather in a fear way it makes sense. The government is terrified that what’s happening in Northern Africa in regards to other presidents who refuse to step down when their people no longer trust them to be leaders, will be contagious and happen here in the Southern part of Africa.

Well their fear is justified to some extent; I mean it is a contagious movement sweeping through the top of Africa so of course it would make sense for that movement of freedom fighters to start protesting down here in the south, right? Wrong. We’re still recovering from the last surge of ‘freedom fighters’ to initiate change in our southern countries, so we’re not strong enough to fight again. It’s not that we don’t want to; we just don’t see how our country will survive another battle less than a half century after the previous.

The second reason the government needs to back off and not be so terrified is that we’ve got hope. That may sound trivial but if you still have hope, you are not as driven to fight the powers that be. However, if the government continues this fearful behaviour and start arresting people for being able to watch the SupeRugby, well then they will have a war on their hands.

Zimbabweans are being urged to turn themselves over to authorities for owning satellite TV’s. So if you watch the news, you’ll be tried for treason [or in some of our cases espionage]. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to me! But then again, when the government has no one to answer to except themselves, then this is what happens. They get power hungry and paranoid and basically act all crazy. Now if that is not the definition of a dictator then I need to go back to school!

I honestly believe that what is happening in Northern Africa is long overdue. I also believe that what this president is doing and not only trying to censor the media but now even punishing their viewers for what they may or may not have seen, is so wide of the mark that words can’t even explain. I also believe that change needs to come to this beautiful country of ours but I also believe that change will only come when we actually have someone worth fighting for!

When you fight against someone your passion tends to dwindle but when you fight for someone, your motivation simply keeps growing. Zimbabwe has a fight on their hands but they will not use the tactics of Northern Africa because it is simply not applicable here. Without the full support of the country’s military, protests will only lead to unnecessary deaths, which in return will lead to despair and less people to fight for freedom. Whatever is going to happen in Zimbabwe is still a while off and Mugabe really doesn’t need these scare tactics or any form of intimidation in order to remain in power. Honestly, he could actually win a fair election this year; no one is going to vote against him because his opponents are just as power hungry as he is. Zimbabweans don’t want this circle of suffering to continue. So until we find a leader we can trust, we would rather stick with the failed one we’ve got.

It’s sort of ironic that President Mugabe’s biggest asset is his declining health. See, if he goes out on his own, we can anticipate less violence and a smoother transition. If someone younger [even just by a few years] is being voted in, they will have even more time to wear down the people of this country and destroy their land. So we need to find a leader, unlike Tsvangari, we need to find someone willing to step up and stay true, not turn their back on the people who elected them. Someone willing to give the power back to the people. Until that happens, this government has nothing to fear, not from its people.

Removing the simple pleasures of watching Cartoon Network or international sports will just give people more time to discuss their anger. Denying people the option of celebrating their fellow Africans’ victories will only serve as a crusher of hope and that is dangerous. So to the authorities of Zimbabwe: rethink your treason trials. Don’t judge your people by the actions of others. You really should know better and if you don’t then it just proves that you are no longer in touch with your citizens and therefore not fit to lead them.

Sharing my view,

AM

Citizen of the world

So at this very moment the people of Libya are fighting for their freedom and essentially their lives. A couple countries away, my little baby cousin is about to enter this world of ours…

My entire family and everyone I come in contact with are sharing my excitement because this new little life is about to see… well everything for the first time. She’ll be looking at everything with excitement and without judgement in her eyes. She will be completely defenceless and expect only the best out of everything.

In a weird way this is exactly the mentality of the people in Libya and several other countries: we expect things to be better. Instead of just waiting for a hero like in the legends we use to read as bedtime stories, we’ve decided that there is power in numbers and every country heavily out numbers their president and his few handlers.

I’ve been writing a diary to my little cousin and I’m sharing random thoughts and memories and basically just things happening in our world. Why? Because she’s part of our world now. This world is as much hers as it is mine. She should have the same rights I do. She should have all the opportunities I have. So when I tell an unborn baby about the politics in Africa it is not because I don’t have anything else to say to her or because I want to impress her or even confuse her. I just want to show her that it’s not something reserved for the elderly. Politics is not something you have to earn the right to get involved in. Since your first breath you are a citizen of this world and you deserve the right to grow up. Eventually your generation will rule this world of ours and there’s a lot of fixing to be done, so if you start early then you might just be able to do it.

We need to go back to being little kids who tried to change the things we disliked in our world, instead of these people who have become content with waiting for the world to change. I’m not expecting my little cousin to save the world but she doesn’t have to know that. She can be anything and she can do anything and as a matter of fact, so can you!

Starting small by simply just smiling at your neighbour and saying ‘hello’ without getting caught up in what he’s driving or what you’re wearing, just seeing people for who they really are. If you have something worth fighting for like freedom or peace then get out there and start kicking some ass! Don’t wait for Joan of Arc or Hercules or Superman to come to the rescue. You have the power but you have to actually do something!

If you’re sitting in a country outside of Africa wondering why there is such an uproar about our presidents, well that’s because they’re not good at their jobs! We should get Donald Trump to have The Apprentice’s next season in Africa and put all the presidents in the show just so he can say: “you’re fired” to the weak-links. And also, you will be wise to remember that none of us are truly free until we are all free.

AM

Hope for Zimbabwe

Ok, so there has been a lot of commotion ~ and rightfully so ~ about Egypt and the brave citizens who won the fight for freedom and got Mubarak to step down. However many in Africa are expecting more revolts like this to come.

I happen to live in one of the countries likely to be next: Zimbabwe. But here’s the thing, Zimbabwe is not Egypt and Mubarak is not Mugabe [the fact that both their names begin with ‘MU’ is probably all they have in common].

Egypt had 3 things going for them during these protests: firstly the eyes of the world were on them because they are seen as an investment-rich country and of course Al Jazeer was amazing throughout! The media kept reporting and found ways around being silenced. As many minerals and natural resources as Zim still have, they are too difficult to access at this point; therefore the world really has no reason to safeguard this country’s economy… Plus the media in this country is weak to say the least. I’m not really blaming the journalists but the government has people watching everywhere and consequences are more than just a stern warning or a broken hard drive. I might sound a tad paranoid but sadly these are the realities of our situation. If you’re wondering why we don’t just use the internet or sites like Twitter, then I need to remind you that Zimbabwe has serious issues with electricity as in: we rarely have it! Plus internet is so slow [not to mention extremely expensive] that most people who can actually afford a computer or even a phone just end up frustrated. Without access to media and a proper grapevine for the citizens of Zimbabwe to communicate, every unified attempt at a protest will be feeble.

Secondly, Egypt had the advantage of having the military and police on their side. In Zimbabwe it is not that clear cut. One of the biggest issues in Zimbabwe at the moment is their lack of self sustainability and fragile agriculture. This is in part due to harsh hot weather and low rainfalls but mostly it is due to the land-redistribution act. You can’t take farms that produce a third of the world’s maize and then just hand them to people who have never planted a seed in their lives, simply because they fought on the ‘right’ side of an old war. You can’t expect crops to just naturally do its thing if no one is actually looking after it. That was a bit long winded but what I’m getting at is: war veterans and friends of the MP’s were given lands that were taken from the country’s farmers. So these war veterans have been on Mugabe’s side all along and have managed to get the military so intertwined with government that it is hard to separate the two. Obviously as the self produced food is getting scarcer and inflation is going through the roof, the war veterans are regretting their choice. But not the ones high up because they are part of the government infrastructure and therefore getting cuts of the benefits. And even in the younger ranks you can see that these officers still have a sense of pride [there is nothing more powerful than African pride, not even Zimbo Hope] when guarding their president. Mugabe doesn’t even need to brainwash them, years of culture has done it for him. The military is too invested in Mugabe to allow any form of an uprising. Besides, a lot of those military hot shots will be held accountable for humanitarian crimes that were committed with their knowledge and by Mugabe’s government over the last few decades. They cannot risk someone else coming into power and messing with the lives they’ve built, so in the event of a revolution, they don’t really have an incentive to choose the people of their country.

The third thing is probably the most amazing reason why Egypt managed to pull together: a Tunisian guy named Mohammed Buoazizi [most people attribute the start of this African Revolt to his actions]. He set himself alight! Yes, he chose one of the most horrifying paths to death because he could not stand the circumstances he was faced with. He will go down in Egyptian [and African] history as a martyr. Don’t misunderstand me, I am in no way what so ever condoning suicide or suggesting that anyone take their own life in order to make a statement! Especially not in Zimbabwe. To be honest, if anyone comes to hear of someone doing the same in Zim, they probably wouldn’t believe it. If by chance they do believe it, most will label them a fool and be annoyed because now there is one less vote in the struggle. See, Zimbos are known for their unflinching hope and doing something like that would indicate that you have given up hope and defecate all that Zimbabweans hold dear. So how do you instantly get the world to pay attention? How do you pull at the heart strings of a nation and bound them in unity? Well, I don’t know… If I did, I would have done it by now.

I’m sorry if I sound like a pessimist, I really am not, ask anyone. I just don’t think it’s fair to assume that what worked for one people will work for another… it’s not that black and white. Life is more complicated than that and politics in Africa is a dangerous business. I don’t want to get into the violence and intimidation that have been taking place throughout Zimbabwe lately ~ I’ll leave that to the news ~ but there is a saying that goes: peaceful waters; deep laid grounds. Zimbabwe is a gorgeous country and all of its nature could easily fool you into thinking that all is right with the world. The birds merrily chirping, however, are not enough to mask the cries of pain from the voiceless people.

So how do we bring about a choice for Zimbabwe? Well if there are any real leaders, not just power hungry dictators who would like to be president: PLEASE speak up! For the rest of us here in Zim, don’t lose hope because that is the one thing they can only take if we are willing to part with it! Everyone else: keep us in your thoughts and if at any point during your day you get the opportunity [no matter how faint] to mention Zimbabwe, please do so! Please don’t be fooled by reports that all are fine and dandy, because it is not; it has not been for quite a while.

Keep us fresh in your minds and don’t forget that we are still not free… not free to choose and not free to stand up and be proud.

Please,

AM

Politics

Politics… this word actually sucks the life right out of me. Maybe that’s because I grew up in Apartheid and post Apartheid in South Africa; maybe it’s because my grandfather felt that the only way to keep his daughters safe is by leaving their country of birth [Zimbabwe]; maybe it’s because I have flash backs of high school debates or even because it seems like ‘politics’ is not just a word reserved for governments.

If you’ve browsed any news site lately or even just flicked through the channels on your TV, you would have noticed that Tunisia and Egypt have been highly discussed. Egypt has united in protests and marches that have been going on for weeks; they want their president to step down. Obviously he refuses and the people are infuriated at his arrogance. How can you call yourself democratic if you refuse to listen to your people?

The South African President Jacob Zuma had his State of Nation Address last night and all in all, it wasn’t that bed. He didn’t have any of those misfortunate statements that plagued him while he was in charge of the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign a few years ago. He focused mainly on job shortages and his plan to implement job creation incentives. As far as job creation is concerned, a few are worried that his plan will only benefit international investors and not really the small business he was trying to focus on. He also mentioned that a government company will manage “strategic minerals”. That statement sounds a bit dodgy to me and it sort of resembles nationalizing mines, so I’d like to know who will be monitoring this company and ensuring that the money rendered gets ploughed back into the countries people and not just into the pockets of ministers. Obviously I’m glad that Zuma realized that unemployment is just a symptom and not the actual cause of our nation’s problems. He is focusing strongly on education and as long as he does this fairly and equally, I’ll applaud him. If you educate [including incentives for trade skills] and you give incentives for job creation then you can end up with a highly motivated and skilled work force. If you broaden the recruitment i.e. to under developed areas then you will have less unemployment which leads to less poverty and crime. President Zuma seems to have stumbled onto the root of a long standing problem… if he manages to do what he says, and then once again I’m standing by him.

I have a slight concern about the healthcare he brought up and I’m waiting for further information before I condemn it. My problem again is with the implementation and how impartial the process would be. Our elderly are seriously struggling! Partially because of our economy and exchange rate but also because inflation has increased at a rate they could not have predicted when they originally retired. Also, they are living longer than they thought they would when they retired… If Zuma can get affordable quality healthcare for our elderly, then I’ll do everything in my power to support him. Something president Zuma said that made me laugh with frustration is that he is appointing people with healthcare experience to manage the healthcare system. To me this is sort of a duh-moment. There really is a need for people who understand the system and the people it serves to be in charge and if Zuma can make that happen then I’m all for it!

Just to get back to the mining thing for a second: most of the foreign investors ~ especially in the mining industry~ are from the Orient, combine this with the new coalition that Zuma has with the Chinese government and you end up with a situation that could spell disaster for the little people who actually have to make a living in South Africa. All things considered, our president handled it pretty well…

If Zuma manages to turn his promises into real actions, then our country stands a pretty good chance of moving forward. He just needs to remember that corruption is the first thing that comes to mind when any African leader is mentioned, so he has to make sure he takes extra precautions to guarantee that his ideas are above board.

I have to admit that I am disappointed he didn’t touch on Zimbabwe at all. I understand that his priorities were with the South African condition but Zim is so close to SA that everything that happens here automatically affects his country too. Plus, he is the main representative on the committee designated to ensuring equality and the legality of all things Zim. You’d think he would use any opportunity to bring about discussions and keep Zimbabwe in the eye of the world, similar to how PETA manages to wiggle their way into promotion through anything!

Which brings me to the Zim situation: an MP from the opposition party has been voted out and within the last few days the new one wanted to fire the old one and the old one wanted to fire the new one and eventually the new one Mutambara has won and is staying in charge and Mugabe is all for it. As odd as it sounds, this really is just a normal day in the life of Zimbabwe-politics. With elections loaming in the air, these things will only start sounding crazier and crazier. For a start the opposition part is still fighting among themselves and thereby loosing most of their supporters. But here’s the funny thing about Zim voters: instead of choosing to vote for someone else, they’re simply choosing not to vote. Partially this is because they still have a sense of loyalty to their party even though the actual candidate has disappointed them and therefore they cannot imagine voting for anyone else and partially because they don’t really have anyone else to vote for… Very few people are still happy with the current government but as Hitler once said: “It is dangerous to be right on matters which the current power is wrong on.” So raising your voice is a really risky choice.

Unlike in Egypt where the military and police have sided with the people of their country, in Zimbabwe the military is so intertwined with the government that it’s hard to tell them apart. If you stand that close to someone it is hard not to paint them with the same brush… So if you stand up against the government, you are in essence also confronting the entire military, including the war veterans who still have a strong hold on most communities. One example of the way the current government is subtly enforcing its grip strong hold on the people is with this “law” that all Zimbabweans should have their flag flying in their vehicles… It may not seem like much and some may even confuse it for a sense of national pride but when your government is taking away your choices and you live in uncertainty then your flag starts to represent your failing government instead of your national pride…

It’s easy to say, we need to stand up and take responsibility for our own countries problems and fight for our freedom but since the world, including president Zuma, is hell bent on focusing elsewhere… Zimbabweans have little choice but to bide their time and cling to their hope. Unlike Egypt, there are no news networks willing to step up and report! Even a medium like Twitter and Facebook is based on internet access and that is a problem under normal circumstances, so once you have been labelled as a ‘trouble maker’ you will seldom have access to those. The government has a record of all phones and who owns them, including their ID’s. Speaking out is hard and if you are not careful, you’d only end up harming the people whose freedom you are fighting for. If that makes me sound like a coward, then I probably am but at the moment on the scale of violence vs. freedom, violence is heavily out weighing everything!

If you check out any Zim news site, they will show you pictures of the growing violence in Zimbabwe, especially the capital Harare. Politics are crazy and governments are less honourable than we wish them to be. The only safety we have is by keeping discussions alive and when the time is, I hope we will have the courage to act!

AM

If you happen to be in London this Saturday, please join the protest in Trafalgar Square in aid of Egypt from 12:00-14:00.

And if you get there a bit early, please walk past the Zimbabwean embassy and sign the petition to remove Mugabe from power. They have vowed to continue their fight for freedom from there until Zimbabwe has a president they can once again be proud of… they have been there since 2004.

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