Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hope for Zimbabwe?

I came across this article in The New York Times by Douglas Rogers titled "Zimbabwe's Accidental Triumph".

How often have Zimbabwe and triumph been used in the same sentence in the past decade? I had to read on.

Rogers is a journalist who was born and raised in Zimbabwe who now resides in Brooklyn while his parents remain in Zimbabwe. Last year he came out with a book titled The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe. Without the benefit of having read his book, Rogers reminds me a great deal of Peter Godwin. He's also a Zimbabwean born journalist living in New York whose parents still live in Zimbabwe. Godwin came out with a book titled When a Crocodile Eats The Sun which I reviewed on the IC main page in September 2007. I described it as perhaps "the most heartbreaking book I had ever read."

This is perhaps where Godwin and Rogers diverge. Rogers has seeingly found the silver lining in the dark clouds that have hung over Zimbabwe over the past decade:

But in 2000, within weeks of losing a constitutional referendum to entrench his power, Mr. Mugabe began the catastrophic land invasions that resulted in the eviction of almost all the country’s 4,500 white farmers and the ruin of what was once a model post-colonial African country. Ever since, the narrative of Zimbabwe has been one of race. Rare is the speech in which Mr. Mugabe does not rail against whites, colonialists, imperialists or the West. Members of his ZANU-PF party have spoken of a “Rwandan solution” for Zimbabwe’s whites.

Westerners have simply accepted this narrative of blacks and whites pitted against one another. But, in doing so, they have missed the inspiring story of what has actually been happening in Zimbabwe over the past decade. After years of mass unemployment, mutant inflation, chronic shortages and state violence, Zimbabweans simply don’t care about skin color. In fact, Mr. Mugabe has managed to achieve the exact opposite of what he set out to do in 2000: the forging of a postracial state.

Rogers goes on to write about the rise of white politicians supported by overwhelmingly by black constituents such as Roy Bennett (who is a part of Godwin's book as well) and Brian Jones, the mayor of Mutare which is Zimbabwe's third largest city. Black and white unite. Well, with the silence of the rest of the African continent and the inaction of the West towards Mugabe, what other choice did they have?

The 30th anniversary of Zimbabwean independence will take place this weekend. One can only hope that by 2040 the postracial Zimbabwe that Rogers writes about will be fully realized.

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