I’ve always found it baffling when people (particularly westerners,) discover with shock and a degree of condescension that Mugabe has, and dare I say it, remains deeply beloved by many a Zimbabwean. Fact; the quality of life of the majority of my countrymen downright plummeted during and since our colonization by the British. Oh please, you really want to tell me you believe that hogwash about how colonization brought the three C’s (civilization, commerce, and Christianity) to us in 1890? My ancestors, first the Munhumutapa, and then the Ndebele andRozvi empires did more foreign trade (mainly with Arab merchants and other empires) before colonization than they did since. We’ve always been deeply religious (much more so than we are now–thanks to Western Christendom for creating a schism between our way of life and faith). As for civilization, I’m not even going to address that; it’s nothing but anti-African propaganda, enough said.
No, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going on a blame me everything on West rant. I see major blind spots in many westerners opinions about Zimbabwe, I’m just pointing them out.
And this not me spewing Mugabe’s praise either. I’ve been criticized by for waxing nostalgic about Mugabe before. What’s funny about that is that unlike many of Mugabe’s former fans who’ve lately turned bitter towards the man, I actually benefited at some point (as did millions of other Zimbos, I’m not talking corruption here) from some of his policies. For example, I enjoyed state sponsored tuition and health access right through the end of high school. Off course I’ve seen the abundance and quality of those services regress rapidly over the past 17 years, but that justifies this point; it makes sense that many Zimbabweans who once loved the guy could have grown critical and loathsome of him now! What doesn’t make sense is for people, you know who you are, who now claim to have always seen through Mugabe’s facade yet they said nothing when he was celebrated as Africa’s greatest statesman through the 80’s and 90’s, to now want to distance themselves from any indication that they too, where once enamored by him.
It will always remain a mystery to me exactly what grounds these pseudo-critics of Mugabe base their attacks on him, and even worse on people like myself who are only exercising our prerogative when we say this: Fact; the quality of life of many of my countrymen improved drastically immediately after independence in 1980. Besides if they were really about democracy and freedom of expression, who are they to deny the opinion held my many Zimbabweans? Isn’t that what democracy is all about; “E Pluribus Unum.”
An interesting article on this very subject emerged this week from the Zimbabwean diaspora. Here it is. This is an excerpt
Robert Mugabe’s honorary degrees should stay. They represent a period of madness in history where a genocidal dictator went on the rampage and the international community, the West in particular, either looked the other way or cheered him on. Any university that respects human rights should never ever have awarded Mugabe an honorary degree during the 1980s or any other period. A public apology to Zimbabweans is the only sincere protest against Mugabe’s rule that these universities can offer.
The three universities awarded Mugabe the degrees during the watershed decade of government crackdown on political dissent under the guise of fighting rebels in Matabeleland and the Midlands. State-directed violence punctuated 1984, 1986 and 1990, the years, respectively, Edinburgh University, University of Massachusetts and Michigan State University, honoured Mugabe. Edinburgh University is reportedly reviewing the dictator’s honorary degree. Recall petitions are under way at the two US universities.
The period 1980 to 1983 was the most critical with mass disappearances, beatings, rape and murder of innocent villagers. With the urging of then Minister of State Security, Emerson Mnangagwa, the North Korea-trained 5th Brigade, Central Intelligence Organization and Zanu PF militias “burned down the villages infested with dissidents”. Hundreds were burned alive in their huts
The West’s double standard will not help its regime change agenda either. The lavish patronage Mugabe received at his most ruthless is fresh in the collective Zimbabwean memory. We are not blind to the sympathy currently lavished on some leaders of the struggle against the dictator.
Led by the myopic media, many in the west have been deluded from the reality that truth is much bigger than buzz words and catch phrases. Trust us, Zimbabweans better understand their reality than the Washington Post, BBC, etc. You can at least give us that much credit can’t you?
There is credence to the cries of the poor and oppressed in Zimbabwe. Until that, and that alone, is the impetus for concern about us chaos and confusion will reign supreme preventing the from taking meaningful action.