national youth

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

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we deserve?

if the world was fair we’d all have what we deserve. the unfortunate thing is many of us would not want a fair world, because as we’ve seen in history, fair means loss for some.

context before I go on, I am a black woman, born and raised in Sub-Saharan Africa now living in the West. 

if the world was fair, there’s a risk I would lose out on some things that I take for granted. for example, I did nothing to deserve the loving family I was born into, their love or financial situation which together created my beautiful, happy childhood. Just as much as children born into abusive or poverty stricken households did nothing to deserve that. but if the world became fair would that mean my parents would love me a little less in order for someone else’s parents to love them more?

now love is love, and I’d like to think that everyone could love more without it having adverse effects on others. this isn’t the same for everything though, especially not money. there is a finite amount of money in the world at any one time, and it’s distribution is so blatantly skewed.

when it comes to wealth, we always compare upwards. you hear it all the time, ‘I doing well but not as well as X who goes on three holidays a year/has two homes/is always shopping. but how often do we compare down, not just an empty #feelingblessed, but really looking around at the inequality in our towns and globally. sure, when comic relief is on heart strings are pulled and we make comments about how it just isn’t fair, maybe even donate some money. but would you give up non-essentials for others to live better lives?

the world says work hard and you’ll have a better life, which leads us all to think that we deserve the ‘nice’ things in life. but if we were honest with ourselves, do we really? I could say I deserve laptop – but let’s break it down: I got a job while living at home and although my mother made me pay a reduced rent, it was half of what I pay if I rented privately. so the spare money, which wasn’t going to rent, bills and transport costs could go towards a swanky top of the range laptop. if someone tried to take this laptop away from me I would have an embarrassing meltdown, it’s mine and I depend on it a lot but I don’t deserve anymore than the person working two jobs to just be able to afford their rent and living costs.

are we willing to lose a little so others could gain a lot? because with things like money, that’s the only way we’ll lead fairer lives that will grow into fairer global futures.

equality isn’t born from government policy or opulent fundraisers, it starts in our hearts and minds.

photo cred: Holger Link