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Zimbabwe’s Exiles : Pain and Memory February 26, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Uncategorized.

There are more than 2 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, and some 400.000 reside in London. They are refugees from a society with:

.. the fastest declining economy in the world; an unemployment rate of more than eighty per cent; and the lowest life expectancy in the world, with women living on average for only 34 years, according to the World Health Organisation. Most Zimbabwean exiles live in South Africa: they number more than two million, and hundreds more each day go into exile by crossing the Limpopo River, marking the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Source: zimbabwejournalists.com

Some have been literally displaced, their homes destroyed to further a sweeping, vindictive, and economically unwise land reform program directed mainly against white farmers. All have their reasons for leaving, and many suffer from the unique, yet subtle miseries of exile. For many Zimbabweans, the peculiar pain of their country’s demise is exacerbated by the high hopes that many had for it at the beginning. Trevor Grundy’s interviews reveal a deep and subtle pain of exile , one tinged with memory of Zimbabwe’s great promise in 1980, the year of the country’s independence and the date of Mugabe’s election to an office that he still refuses to relinquish. Lawrence Vambe, Zimbabwe’s most distinguished historian, asks of Mugabe: “At school, Robert was considered a genius… What happened to turn him into such a monster? I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, even as I approach my 90th birthday in England, so far away from home.”

This kind of painful retrospection is not all the exiled Zimbabweans have to worry about. They are convinced that Mugabe’s secret police are conducting psychological warfare against them in Britain:

We get telephones calls late at night and a voice at the other end warns us we know where your parents are in Zimbabwe,,,, we know your sister and terrible things like that”. said a young Zimbabwean studying art in Bristol, in the west of England. “I have been praying that Mugabe will drop dead on his 83rd. We all do.”

Source: zimbabwejournalists.com

In fear for the present and in mourning for the lost potential of the past, Zimbabwean wait and work for change but it is hard to look to a future when the present is terrifying and the past is a kingdom of squandered opportunity. 

Related Link: The Association of Zimbawean Journalists

Tags: YEARS | remain | exile | celebration | birthday | ZIMBABWEAN | Zimbabwe | Politics | Mugabe | LAWRENCE | english | Britain | Africa



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