"The Zimbabwe flag. Tourist"
"It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society." --Krishnamurti

A Look at Zimbabwe: A Visit and Subsequent Thoughts

First Reply to Reaction:

"The Tourist's" reply at http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/jan3_2004.html#link4:

January 2nd, 2004.

Dear Debbie,

I appreciate your response to my amateur analysis of the situation in Zimbabwe. I didn't expect the reaction to be unanimous either way. Contrary to what you say I did try and balance negative with positive, taking the position of the devil's advocate in several instances. The fact that the negative outweighs the positive (or that you chose to see it that way) should tell you something.

I am not "hell-bent" on trying to justify why I am not living in Zimbabwe and I am far from comfortable where I am. As I stated in my essay, I left when I was 12. Being of that age I didn't really have a choice, but I do not regret my parents' choice to leave. Having lived on three continents has given me a view of the world that I believe I may not have had the privilege to gain had I lived my whole life in one country, whether that be Zimbabwe or any other. I do not know your situation, so I cannot compare your view of the world to mine. As I did also say, I could see myself living in Zimbabwe again -- that's hardly something I would say if I was justifying my living somewhere else.

As it happens, I do not call myself an ex-Zimbabwean, as you asked I not do; I call myself an ex-Rhodesian because I have never lived in Zimbabwe and I'm sure, if I was to try applying for one, the Zimbabwean government would deny my application for a Zimbabwean passport. (I'm sure you're aware of Judith Todd's situation.) The Zimbabwe government is happy to deny me the birthright that people in the country where I live take for granted -- i.e., the right to citizenship of the country of my birth. (The name may have changed, but it seems that I'm out of luck on a current Rhodesian passport too, so I'm in a bit of a quandary. I would be a stateless person if I was not a naturalised citizen of the country in which I now live, a situation in which many ex-Rhodesians and ex-Zimbabweans find themselves.) Since the government of Zimbabwe denies any connection to me, I have no choice but to deny any connection to the government of Zimbabwe.

I am not blind to the fact that there is an international schism between "Rhodesians" (you know, the ones who "took the chicken run" before 1980) and "Zimbabweans" (the ones who chose [or had no other choice but] to stick it out, many of who eventually gave up). I think the root of the schism lies in envy on both sides and is a useless waste of energy.

You also seem to have missed another point I made -- that being that whites are an insignificant political force in Zimbabwe. I know you'd like to think that you're all in it together, but you're not and that's obvious from the de facto segregation that exists, not only in Zimbabwe, but in Zambia and South Africa. You're along for the ride no matter whether you think you are part of the "team" or not.

You're also welcome to your (and apparently Mandela's) opinion that a man should die where he is born. I disagree. The world is too big a place to spend it all in one place so that you can ensure you are still there when you die.

Maybe we did meet during my stay. From what I saw and was told, the white population (at least in Harare) is so small now that the old cliché that everybody knows everybody else and their business is almost true.

As for analysing the society in which I currently live -- perhaps you missed my thinly-veiled criticisms of that very society interspersed in what I wrote. I also clearly stated that I do not consider that society paradise and neither do I consider Zimbabwe hell. That said, people in the society in which I live are free to criticise their government and the leader of the country. People outside the country in which I live do not ask tourists coming here to report back on what is "really" happening here because they can't get straight answers from people here who are afraid to speak their thoughts because of fear of possible repercussions -- the genesis of my essay. You might be content to live in that climate of fear, but I and most people are not.

I am afraid that I consider your "reality" to be rose-coloured optimism at best. Whether or not it's their own fault (or whether it's the fault of us evil, imperialist Europeans), black Africans have proven themselves incapable of governing themselves and their continent. I highly doubt that the next 40 years in Africa will be any different to the last 40 years; sad but true. As I pointed out in my original essay, it may be many generations (assuming the human race doesn't destroy itself before then) before they figure it out and, whether or not they do, your optimism and the seeds you planted will be blowing in the wind.


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