it seems to be the season of elections around the world, and one election that has been on my radar is the one in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is my country of origin, it’s where I was born and where my heart will always be called to. the country has had a turbulent history, full of major highs and heartbreaking lows but I claim them all because they made it into the country I love and shaped the upbringing I had.
my knowledge of current Zim politics leaves much to be desired, so I won’t offend anyone by giving a political commentary on who’s running, what they stand for or where my support is. unfortunately this doesn’t stop many people, often not Zimbabwean, giving their two cents on the whole situation. this post is for people like me, also people like them, and extends far beyond politics.
Zimbabwe, in its current form, is only 38 years old. a quick google search will show you the rich pre-colonial history, starting with the arrival of the bantu people around 2000 years ago. we then tinkered along doing our own thing, until the 1880s when Cecil Rhodes and the British Empire came along and made us a colony. it was only in 1980 when we (re-)gained our independence and Zimbabwe was born.
if you open up a history book, and look into the history of the UK, Europe and the US, you’ll see that they all rose and fell. from a colony of Rome to the dark ages then the rise of the renaissance. civil unrest, leading sometimes to civil wars and unequal distribution of power and wealth because of crime and corruption were rife. they had the time to make their mistakes and learn from them without harsh judgement and debilitating economic sanctions.
now, I’m not advocating that we ignore humanitarian crises in the name of allowing countries to ‘find their feet’ because that would involve ignoring peoples real and often unnecessary suffering. what I would like to see is less comparison made between more economically developed countries (many of whom owe that development to the colonies they used to control and/or slave labour) and less economically developed countries (who in turn were the victims of those abuses of power).
you wouldn’t give a 5 year old and 35 year old the same maths test, then be surprised when the 35 year old passed with flying colours and the toddler only scrapped a few lucky guesses.
context is vital, critical when developing your opinions on anything in life.
my home is beautiful, full of kind loving people who love welcoming others. if life was fair, these are the people who would run the country and ensure that we all moved up in national prestige and economic wealth together, not leaving people behind in poverty. that’s not how it is at the moment, but I have faith that with time we will prosper and not at the cost of other nations.
so in that context, I will not stand for unjust comparisons and dismissals of my home. and I hope this will make everyone think twice before they voice opinions on any young nation that is currently having problems, without first understanding the historical context and complex issue currently grabbing the headlines.
photo cred: Annie Spratt