“I once met a Zimbabwean…”

Beyond the borders of Zimbabwe, no one cares what my name is, which clan I hail from, what tribe I belong to because the moment one sets foot on foreign soil you assume an identity greater than just being the daughter of so and so – you are quite simply a Zimbabwean.

So perhaps when I challenged some of the views about Zimbabwe that were expressed during the media tour that I took part in – I was in effect defending myself, defending my dignity and also affirming my worth as a global citizen.

I suspect that living in one of the most vilified nations in contemporary times has forced Zimbabweans to oscillate between two extremes – a fierce patriotism or a desperate desire to repudiate and disassociate themselves from all things Zimbabwean.

So when I attended the Washington Foreign Press Center (FPC) reporting tour on Blogging for Social and Political Change; I got accustomed to being referred to as ‘Zimbabwe’ because apparently my nationality was easier to remember than my name.

...telling it as I see it; as I've lived it and as I believe it - the "Zimbabwean Story"

I had to decide from the onset whether I would silently endure whatever remarks were made about Zimbabwe (which remarks would naturally reflect on me) or whether I would stand in defense of my country and consequently in defense of myself.

In being addressed in this manner, and in responding to that form address – my identity and that of my country became two inseparably identities and in besmirching one; the other got similarly besmirched.

Having spent the first days fielding questions about Zimbabwe; I later remarked to Ugandan blogger, Rosebell Kagumire, how annoying it was to constantly have to defend my country in the face of half-truths, gross misrepresentation of facts and the supercilious know-it-all attitudes displayed by some of the people I met.

Her reply to me was, “You do have to speak on behalf of your country. You have to tell your side of the story because everyone you meet will walk away with an impression of Zimbabwe that is based on their encounter with you. And in future conversations about Africa; they will prefix their statements by saying, ‘I once met a Zimbabwean….’”

So although I had gone to the US in my capacity as a journalist/blogger , for the duration of my stay there; I assumed an ambassadorial role that I had not anticipated doing and this article is a narrative of my brief stint as the ‘unofficial’ blogging ambassador of Zimbabwe.

My stay in America presented me with numerous opportunities and platforms to correct a few misconceptions about Zimbabwe and it was gratifying to realize that my views found a receptive audience in the persons of senior, high-ranking US Government officials because the meetings had an exciting no-holds-barred atmosphere that allows for candid dialogue.

It was this atmosphere of candor that allowed me to quiz the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Judith McHale on the great amount of blame that I felt America should take for the systematic demonizing and distortion of Zimbabwe and its image internationally that has prevailed in recent years.

My query had been prompted by the fact that she had informed us that, “US Diplomacy involves making efforts to reach out and strengthen relations between the US government, its citizens and people all over the globe. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton appreciate and understand the importance of engaging people and having conversations with them that will move us forward. They are both exemplary by going out and listening and learning and sharing ideas with people everywhere”.

I had wondered whether either President Obama or Secretary Clinton having understood the “importance of engaging people and having conversations with them” had ever held such dialogues with President Mugabe prior to kicking off their administration’s foreign policy by declaring that the US Government intended to extend sanctions in Zimbabwe.

I wondered whether they had afforded President Mugabe the simple courtesy of hearing him out before falling in with the stance assumed by the Bush administration and being aware of the fact that President Obama had given Prime Minister Tsvangirai an audience – I wondered why the same invitation was not extended to President Mugabe – if only to hear both sides of the story.

I wondered too, how President Obama or Secretary Clinton could then authoritatively comment on or form opinions about President Mugabe when they had never even met with him, spoken to him or engaged him in anyway.

Kenya's Maureen; Uganda's Rosebell and I at the Minneapolis Convention Center in a heated debate about the politics of hate (i.e tribal, ethnic) being a legacy of colonialism

I wondered all these things because it is my strong feeling that I will not give credit to the views or opinions anyone expresses about on the basis of hearsay when they have never once sat down to have a dialogue with me.

In my view they become unqualified to comment by virtue of their ignorance of the subject matter – in this case the subject matter would be me.

In response to my query on the sincerity of the US Government in demonstrating the “importance of engaging people and having conversations with them” when they seemed to be so selective in terms of who they engage, Under Secretary McHale responded by saying that she had been to Zimbabwe and personally considered it to be a beautiful country.

She added that her Government fully supported the efforts being made by President Zuma in finding amiable ways of resolving whatever issues prevailed stating, “I am sorry for all the trouble but we’ve been very specific about our position regarding Zimbabwe’s situation. It is true that the views of the US may filter to other countries but we certainly would not direct reporters say from the UK or direct people on what to say about Zimbabwe. I would like to think that all we are doing is just casting a spotlight on cases of violations that come to our attention. So you will find Secretary Clinton will take a position regarding such issues. In our private discussions with the Government there, we continue to pressure them to do something about the situation there. Just like anywhere in the world we do speak up when we think there is a need to”.

What I got from her response was that Zimbabwe was not being singled out for criticism but that the US routinely criticizes other nations as and when it feels that they are stepping out of line in terms of respecting human rights and being democratic.

This impression was further confirmed by Daniel Baer, the Deputy Assistant Secretary from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor who revealed that there were millions of US dollars being set aside to be channeled towards ensuring that more people including those in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the internet which has been declared a universal human right.

I wondered whether these resources could possibly penetrate beyond the sanction-induced paralysis that has largely hindered technological advancement in Zimbabwe.

While I itched to throw these and other questions at him, a Chinese blogger, Deng Zhixin beat me to it by quizzing Assistant Secretary Baer on how these funds would be accessed by countries that were under sanctions.

“Sanctions are about depriving the person you wish to punish without withholding aid to those you wish to support so we evaluate. The rights of those we wish to support and protect are a priority; unfortunately as surgical as the application of sanctions can be there are unintended consequences. We try to see what the unwanted consequences are so that we can review within our discretion to take into account the unintended negative impact our policies may have,” said Secretary Baer who went on to point out that sometimes a foreign policy stance conflicted with other humanitarian pursuits that other arms of US government may be engaged in.

I argued that the interventions that can be made by any well-meaning nation in addressing the concerns of Zimbabweans would have to be made by people who had a clear understanding of the issues at the heart of the Zimbabwean ‘problem’.

I pointed out that any attempt to understand Zimbabwe outside of the historical context of the land would be meaningless, superficial and ineffectual.

My sentiments met with strongly resistance from some Professors and academics during a meeting at the University of Minnesota Journalism School when one participant pointed out that the bad stories about Zimbabwe were coming from Zimbabweans themselves so whatever negative perception of Zimbabwe there was – it existed because of the real life testimonies given by Zimbabweans through the use of new media tools.

One blogger said that through Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms people could have managed to “come out” with their stories of struggle, torture, fear and persecution” in Zimbabwe.

I conceded that he had a point but then I reminded him that the internet was now the most easiest tool to manipulate and many opportunists had a seen a chance to gain asylum under false pretexts.

Meanwhile every year we were treated to shock treatment whenever we learn of awards for human rights defenders and courageous journalists being conferred on people we knew had done absolutely nothing back home and were totally undeserving of such lofty and high-sounding honors.

Pakistan's Sana Saleem... and I taking to the podium.

I even had the temerity to suggest that perhaps the world should not be gullible as to be taken in by all sorts of chancers as we had seen in our own civil society several bootlicking opportunists who would say anything to get donor’s funding for non-existent projects as long as they knew the rhetoric.

When I was asked to give a keynote address at the Netroots Nations Blogging Conference held in Minneapolis two weeks ago; I took to the opportunity to explain how Zimbabwe has been the object of harsh international scrutiny and how through new media and blogging there was a chance for us to begin to tell the narratives of our own nations as they are, as we lived through them and as we experienced them.

For in enduring the distorted image of Zimbabwe, we’ve been needlessly pushed more and more into the margins of global discourses; becoming a pariah in the global village and the outcast of the international community.

For these remarks, I was rewarded with a standing ovation from a crowd of over 2500 delegates and the enthusiastic handshake of the Mayor of Minneapolis. I can only assume this ‘unofficial’ ambassadorial role was growing on me.

I later found irony in the fact that my views, though contrary to prevailing opinion, had nevertheless been accepted, because I know that there are some Zimbabweans who would have happily booed me off the stage for defending the country they have so long denigrated for personal gain. I concluded that Americans are more tolerant of divergent views than most.

I capped off my term in office as ‘unofficial’ ambassador of Zimbabwe by agreeing to sit on a panel that sought to tackle the discussion topic: “Changing of the Guard: Youth Leading Democracy” along with two other presenters – Moroccan blogger Zouhair Ait Benhamou and a Vietnamese born youth activist Trinh Nguyen.

One of the questions I was asked by young man in the audience who wanted to know, “Since countries such as yours haven’t yet become democratic, will you be taking examples from America or will you form your own kind of democracy?”

I was taken aback.

I decided to immediately free this young fellow of such presumptions by pointing out to him that America was not really a model of democracy as far as I was concerned because they too often conduct themselves in an undemocratic manner.

I also informed the dear fellow that we would not be “aping” America’s style of democracy because we had to have systems that were compatible to our own realities and relevant to the context of our history of colonialism, struggle, independence, neo-colonialism and the attempts to create a culture of viable role models in terms of leaders.

Having done my bit to stand up for my beloved country I hit the local pub with the other bloggers and while we sat at the Hell’s Kitchen diner a conference attendee approached us to extend greetings.

He asked everyone their names and were they came from and when I told him my name and that I come from Zimbabwe, he looked at me with such a sympathy, paused and then said, “oh, how unfortunate.”

Perhaps I did not do justice to my countrymen and countrywomen but I hope that wherever my fellow bloggers are – there is a possibility that one day when they hear someone speaking ill of Zimbabwe, they will think of me and say, “I once met a Zimbabwean…”.


28 thoughts on ““I once met a Zimbabwean…”

  1. Posani Gumede says:

    I hear Standard journalist Patience Nyangove has been picked by plain clothes police in an unmarked vehicle from her newsroom this morning. This, over a story she wrote, on Sunday about the alleged arrest on a Minister. I suppose they want all journalists to write like this to earn.

  2. Delta says:

    Yes… I heard about that…very very disturbing indeed and really unacceptable in the era of a Coalition Government. 3 parties supposedly at the helm and yet media freedom is so restricted. I think we as Zimbabweans should do something about it (instead of running off into the diaspora and lamenting about it to other nations who really have no obligation to come sort out whatever mess we have because they have problems of their own)…… because everyone can talk, have their say and at the end of the day – Zimbabweans will have to decide their own fate.
    My point is there is only so much any other nation can do…. we either love our country and set it right or we choose to flee it in loathing. I merely assert that I will prefer the former.

  3. Posani Gumede says:

    Mugabe mentions UK. US and others in every funeral, has he ever met them?

    • Delta says:

      I don’t know if he ever has. But if he hasn’t then my point still remains – I would contend that he, too, would be unqualified to formulate any credible opinion about them.

  4. Sharon Bwanya says:

    LOL – I so understand how you felt Delta. I surprised myself jumping to my country’s defence when I was in foreign lands because when anyone attacks my country with half truths, they attack me….lol.

    We dont have it good but we dont have it that bad. And we arent the only ones – it sucks to always be singled out and when cornered, my primal instincts always kick in and i get into retaliation mode. I love Zimbabwe with all my heart and with all its shortfalls and dont anybody dare tell me to shun my country or speak ill of it. I will speak truth, I will accept truth. I will not accept insults and derogatory remarks about my land or its people. Show me a perfect land…We have our own problems and you have your own. America and its social decadance should be the last one to talk KMT!

    • Delta says:

      I suspect that many people don’t realize how patriotic they are until they are away from Zim…it’s one thing for us to bad mouth our country; bad mouth each other and fight amongst ourselves – it’s quite another when other people (non-Zimbabweans) take similar liberties….lolest!

  5. mumuh says:

    i must say how disappointed i am in you for allowing emotions instead of simple logic to run you my dear, first of all, you as a journalist u must be aware of the much donor funding that is circulating in this country, if the Americans want to fund internet access, they can, and let us not be naive about that. the issue that America does not have a perfect democracy does not exonerate us from the injustice that has been suffered in this country. it is no reason why there were land grabs that caused more harm than good, it is no reason why the militia was let lose on the general populace. the violence that has been a common feature in the political landscape, families that have been crippled families. it is not all rossy as you were trying to paint. we have weakneses and the first step of emancipation is accepting who we are and that we surely need help. the economy is struggling because of people who are so ignorant and refuse to be told anything. you lied as our represenative Delta

    • itsdelta says:

      You are proving my point Munya….. my point was and is – that what you have just narrated is ALL that is known about Zimbabwe… But if anyone, including you, wants to argue that what you have outlined above is the entirety of the Zimbabwean story – then I certainly differ with them.
      You want to talk about the land grabs; why don’t you go right back to the beginning of the dispute over the land and to why the land was such a contentious matter?
      That way you can fully appreciate the extreme sense of frustration that must have driven those people to take such drastic and unlawful courses of action.
      While I totally condemn the unlawfulness of what they did – no one can deny the legitimacy of their grievances – not even you.
      No one can deny the moral claim that they (and we all) have to the land.
      Please don’t just pick out nyaya yema-land grabs as if it was all an isolated event and not part of a greater process in which blacks tried (without much success) to remedy a historical wrong of land dispossession.
      And in trying to remedy this wrong – some took the law into their hands and invaded the farms. They were wrong – it is true. BUT what was done to them – to us – (dispossession) was wrong as well.
      There is no need for me to be emotional when there is a clear historical context to explain the events and possible motives that I believe contributed to the chaotic, violent and infamous land grabs.
      My question now is; who ever tells that story – the story that goes beyond just the grabbing of the land?
      Who ever tells the story of a disenfranchised black majority and a privileged white minority?
      Who ever bothers to explain the deep feelings of frustration, disgruntlement and genuine grievance that I believe fueled the land grabs?
      Who ever bothers to mention that men and women went and got killed fighting to own a piece of land?
      This is missing part of the narrative Munya.
      I am not disputing what you have raised but I think in leaving out the context (or regarding it as irrelevant) you perpetuate an incomplete narrative of Zimbabwe and a distorted account of the land dispute.
      So I told the stories no one else seems to bother about and the stories no one seems to care to remember…because they are all stories about Zimbabwe; in its various epochs and each successive event triggering a myriad of reactions.
      If you concentrate only on the “consequences” of things and ignore the causes… how can you then state that you have done justice to the story of our nation?
      In it’s ugliness, in its splendor – we must own our history and we must tell it and we must occasionally use it to understand our present.
      What you have narrated is what is already out there – who is going to tell the bits that you have left out??

  6. Maureen says:

    interesting read D you are really an ambassador!

  7. Delta — As one of the organizers of Netroots Nation, thanks very much for coming and sharing your moving words at our opening session. I just had a chance to watch the youtube video posted by Kevin Gosztola (or at least I think it was posted by him) and you’ve given me a lot to think about. Thanks!! — Nolan

  8. Eva Sibanda says:

    I must say I agree with Sharon, most of the time for those Zimbabweans living outside Zimbabwe is spent rectifying peoples perceptions of the country so much that in essence we can safely say we are truly patriotic! Delta thank you for your wise words!

  9. novuyo says:

    There is definitely a need to express within the outside community a more balanced view of Zimbabwe – I experienced it myself here inSouth Africa when faced with various pity questions about my country.That of being said; the pesevering problems of the country cannot,even if we so wished, take the back seat in lieu of a’more favourable’ picture of it; they confont you constantly as you go through daily existence, in the shona and ndebele that lambasts you almost at every corner in joburg, in the daily tide of buses leaving to and fro Zimbabwe, the intricate networks of omalayitsha and the thousands of zim graduates whó fight tooth and nail to remain here instead of returning back home, in the high prevalence of fake IDs and permits.these are real and pressing issues that cannot be balanced by any amount of romanticism of the state in which we find ourselves.

    That being said, let us not forget and let us be thankful for the zimbabwean diaspora network; it is they who saved the country from total economic collapse during our harshest years and fed many a starving mouth; the long, daily desperate queues at western union and the grace of the foreign currency upon many a suffering family is unforgettable.

  10. novuyo says:

    Furthermore, no matter how ‘noble’ President Mugabe’s (and I say this with great sarcasm) intentions with the country may be, his reputation, based on past and present very real offences, precedes him. The biggest problem in the country is the break down in trust between the people and their government which led to the subsequent problems. The terror of the Gukurahundi years, which have been swept neatly under the carpet, the unashamed threats aired on ztv by the ruling party during elections, election violence and disregard of electoral procedure and inconsistent application of the law are all acts which those in zimbabwe have experienced and which serve to further stain our President’s credibility; how irresponsible and double-faced would it be to give such a leader audience on any ‘fair terms’ as the terms are already unfair on the people of and in Zimbabwe.

    The issue of land has always been at the heart of the zimbabwean struggle;it has never been right that the majority starve while the minority thrive. But sad irony of ironies; the timing of the land seizures by the ruling party was during the opposition party’s rising influence; they were poorly planned for and rashly executed, fueled by anger and emotion driven expertly by mugabe et al, instead of careful economic rationale and constructive planning for a better future for the disenfranchised majority.in the end you had people who had never been taught how to handle commercial farming handling whole farms and powerful politicians owning three and even four farms. There was the manipulation of the noble idea of land for all which took away its integrity and led to food shortages and years of eating kenyatta donated maize meal meant for the cows. There is nothing at all romantic about this, and if we are to truthfully and effectively handle our own affairs aas zimbabweans then we have to be our own harshest and most truthful critics, lest we become myopic about our existence; as it is we rely so much on the rest of the world to function economically and socially, we are scattered all over the world and we have pressing political economic issues. We are a nice people yes, a generous people a resilient people. But more pressing is the issue of our country’s demise.

  11. The Zimbabwean experience is layered, complex and contested. There is no one version of Zimbabwe and so there can never be one version of the truth. There is no truth. The truth is subjective. I think we have to learn appreciate this and accept that if you send 10 different Zimbabweans abroad, they will each have a version of reality that speaks to their situation. They owe no one anything for speaking fair, foul or foolish. If people really want to know more about Zimbabwe and balance their viewpoints, they should read more around what’s happening. They should consult more than just the first person they meet and generalise across a population. I know this isn’t the norm and that people love stereotypes – they are so much easier to understand – but so what should we do for people’s ignorance and lack of interest?

    I am conscious every time that I am away from Zimbabwe that people want me to tell them about it. They want to know what it’s really like. But I am no ambassador – that’s just too much pressure. What it’s really like for me is not what it’s really like for you or the next person. So yes, I give history and context and yes I say the good and the bad stuff. And then I talk about me and then I say but I am just one out of 13 million and that’s my experience.

    I own my experience and personalise it. We really all should and not be villified for admitting when things are horrible and out of order. The ambassador tag is too much stress and it has those ghastly connotations of diplomacy and censorship, as well as representativeness, which it tends to not be.

    The thing I enjoy most is getting each person’s unadulterated version of their nation and piecing together my own tapestry.

    Which is why even when they burn Zimbabweans in South Africa, I know that not all South Africans hate my guts. And that’s only because I have dared to delve deeper and learn people first as human beings and then care about national status secondly. Zimbabwe does not diplomats; it needs honesty.

    • Delta Ndou says:

      Aah…how refreshing….I once did an anthology of poetry while I was in high school; it was titled “And now the poets speak”. In writing this post and in getting this response – I think I can derive satisfaction from being able to say “…and now the Zimbabweans speak!”
      You are right – our experience of Zimbabwe is unique to each individual in as much as our experience and interpretation of life is unique to each of us.
      But in living we are Zimbabweans…and even when we die; we still remain Zimbabweans – albeit dead ones.
      And to me this is the single thing that unifies us above the diversity of our experiences…. and perhaps this is the one identity that obscures the things that divide us.

      • In response I ask what it means to be Zimbabwean. When you say we will stay Zimbabweans even when we die, what meaneth thou? I could marry a man from somewhere else, adopt his citizenship and live in his nation for the rest of my life. Will I die a Zimbabwean? I might but the point I am trying to make is that for tool long, we Zimbabweans have limited ourselves by defending our nationhood and saying “Because I am Zimbabwean..”

        There are four Zimbabweans in my university department and I have only vaguely interacted with one. My best friends here are Indian, Rwandan, Malawian, Zambian, Canadian and Romanian. I never made myself feel obliged to interact with these folks very seriously because I know we have very little in common. Too little to use Zimbabweaness as a foil for friendship. Once I made a negative comment about Zimbabwe in class and I could tell one of them was visibly irked.

        Well, let them be irked. I have my own version of Zimbabwe and I will speak about it. And I am entitled to that without having to be made to feel like a traitor.

        I think while nationality is socially, politically and economically cohesive, it also represents our downfall. We censor and confine ourselves because of where we come from. We stop seeing people as individuals first and classify them according to where they came from.

        And we end up making people who share counter-viewpoints feel bad for that. Well if I am the only Zimbabwean my friends will meet, I think they will know more about me as Fungai first before Zimbabwe. And that is more beneficial to people than any history lesson that I can give them.

        This is something absolutely close to my heart and I just must re-emphasise that we need not ambassadors. We need people to be allowed to speak what they feel. We are censored in Zimbabwe anyway and we want to censor ourselves again abroad.

  12. itsdelta says:

    I hear you girl… but you are so many things Fungai and you will be all those things until you die and even after you’re dead. How you choose to interpret the labels you wear is another thing.
    1. You are Fungai Rufaro Machirori and you may get married and change your name but that identity remains associated with you.
    2. You are African and you may decide to assume citizenship in another continent but that identity remains associated with you because you didn’t choose it – you were born African.
    3. You are Zimbabwean and you may again opt for a different citizenship in another nation but that identity remains associated with you – you were born in Zimbabwe.
    4. You are the daughter of Machirori, supposing you’d been adopted and assumed a different surname – your DNA would still to the Machirori identity.
    To me being Zimbabwean is not a choice, it’s not a garment you wear and when you get amongst other people of different nationalities – you get to divest yourself of it and say – I am Fungai…just Fungai.
    The person who calls you Fungai and the one who calls you a Zimbabwean are both addressing you accurately.
    The fact that you may not prefer to be addressed by your nationality doesn’t change the fact that you are a citizen of that nation.
    As for what it means to be Zimbabwean; I think it means many things to many people – it means you were born in Zimbabwe, or it means you’re citizen by virtue of marrying a Zimbabwean or opting to assume Zimbabwean citizenship or it means you’re Zimbabwean by descent because one or both of your parents were born Zimbabwean or have Zimbabwean citizenship.
    I do not know a more clear way of explaining my concept of being Zimbabwean. What I can say though, is that it defines you (to some extent) in terms of geographical placement on this planet; defines you in terms of ‘belonging’ in terms of your lineage or roots or heritage (whether you wish to own it or not – it is nevertheless associated with you).
    It’s like insisting that you don’t want to be known as a woman you just want to be known as a human being – your womanhood is not really optional – it is simply what you are. You can however get to decide what kind of woman you will be known as.
    And what we are now discussing are issues of identity and this is what I think about how we are identified and how we identify ourselves, I accept that you will have your own (no doubt strong) feelings about how you perceive identity and what obligations you assume by owning those identities, tags or labels that people use to define you.
    And it is clear that you feel very strongly about this. I must defer to your judgment in this matter because you speak with the advantage of experience having lived outside Zim for some years. Perhaps when I have had my stint living abroad we shall compare notes; and who knows; I may change my limited view of what it means to be Zimbabwean and what I owe Zimbabwe when I speak for it.
    You have given me much to ponder….as usual! (-:

  13. novuyo says:

    Wow so many great and diverse viewpoints to ponder! Always refreshing to interact with tireless minds on this great blog. But I disagree with Fungai on the matter of identity and Zimbabweaness; I lean very much towards Delta’s concept in the article of the particular idea of zimbabweaness, the very idea of the term is a very important one.I think it is a very crucial identity to one’s whole construct; it really does not limit but rather enriches one’s ‘identity portfolio’ and cultivation of consciousness towards one’s ‘home’ I believe is crucial. National boundaries serve also to impart a societal order to human construct, which is not bad at all but creates a locus of reference. It is important to affiliate with our zimbabweaness; we are its future, not the south africans not the nigerians but us. I love the way nigerians love their country and I wish we could love ours in the same way. (Which is not to say we must love it in ignorant bliss but that we should be moved to help it out of its mess reprimand it where we must and nurture it to its full potential). The way americañs love their america and have made so sellable to the rest of the world. It is interesting how individualism is largely a western construct but they have made it work very well with the whole idea of national pride and the need to contribute to the legacy of one’s place of origin. We in africa, rather we the ‘westernised’ africans, would do well to creatively marry individualism,which is a crucial cornerstone to identity, with the african concept of socialism. One can never claim, even in the very necessary face of individualism, to belong nowhere; there is always reference to a place in one’s construct even subconsciously. The good thing about patriotism (in the clean sense of the word and not what it has come to mean in our country) is that it breaks down locus of responsibility; it is like there are so many problems in the world in diff places and for us being born zimbabwean means zim needs to be one of our primary responsibilities as citizens of the world. It is like a child; sure it belongs to the community but primary responsibility to nurture it belongs to its parents its family.zim is our baby!

  14. bonnie says:

    hai! hai! hai! this is quite a discussion bathu… i always say, only I reserve the right to bad mouth Zim because i am zimbabwean, and even then, i only do that when I’m “home”. when i am beyond the boundaries of ‘home’, if anyone so much as suggests that Zim’s weather is too anything, hehehehe, i launch missiles. Rightly put, Zim’s story is more often than not poorly reported and poorly understood. Zimbabweans hold so much power when they go out there because people out there are so hungry for “inside” info that they would believe anythin a Zimbabwean would say……even the truth. During a certain tv show i shot in 2008 with peeps from all over africa, i earned the nickname “Mugabe’s daughter” which later evolved to just “Bob’s daughter” partly because my name is difficult to pronounce for non-Zimbabweans and largely to my vehement defending of all things zimbabwean while quick to point out some flaws of the countries of some seemingly glorious lands. I love zim like it’s mine….oh wait…It IS mine…

  15. bonnie says:

    also…i think that part of being an ambassador involves “responsible reporting”. i think one should always as themselves if their testimony will add to or retard progress. I once had the humbling opportunity to meet the crown prince and princess of norway, a few days after the prince had met with Mr morgan tsvangirayi. and he asked me if, in my opinion as a regular citizen, things were improving since tsvangirayi had been made PM. I thought long and hard before giving my response, bearing in mind that i needed to NOT impede progress.

  16. Nonhlanhla says:

    interesting discussion. Its up to you scribes to “market zim..”

    @fungai…u can marry a white man and live in his land, bt does it mek u a white woman and non african…?Pafunge..

  17. Stash says:

    Well, a little too late I see myself. I cant see how I can contribute in length here without repeating most of what has already been said. I agree mostly and ‘bothly’ with Novuyo and Fungai. Nevetheless, I’ll add that indeed, a partial approach to dialogue for me does not underline diplomacy. If you recall Black Hawk Down De, the Americans have been attacked left and right for attempting to create the global opinion about other countries. I must mention though, I had never thought of things from your perspective. I have learnt that as much as I may not particularly love the old man, there is value in being objective and hearing his side too. Indeed, with land ‘invasions’ what was the ‘appropriate’ response by the public to a promise not kept? Have you not seen what South Africans do when they demand services? They loot, burn and make noise to be heard. How different were farm invasions, if not that the main preoccupation of the majority is the fact that Mugabe sanctioned them? Let our new mantra be objective audiencing before finger pointing. And unfortunately, those ‘unintended consequences’ Secretary Baer talked of have been really telling on ordinary Zimbabweans. Excellent job of standing up for your country, De. I see there is not going to be any bootlicking on your part and organisers of such events will in future take you half-expecting you not to be clueless brown-nose,

  18. robin says:

    thank you for lifting our flag high, we need people like you to tell the Zimbabwean story in a factual way. People out there think ill of our country and its out duty as patriots to tell them the real deal.THANK YOU again Milayo.

  19. Koga says:

    Am deeply captivated by the afore said highly enlightened reflections and remarks over our beloved nation Zimbabwe. I submit to my fellow citizens that concurrently to sharing these facts in word equivalence with those within and those without lets engage ourselves more so into action. Action to transform the landscape of our nation… action to actually change our economy by howbeit projects, practical pursuits with tangible milestones and deliverables. I am of the opinion that the solution to our present day challenges lie squarely on our shoulders… its not with the west nor the east…not even with ZANU Pf nor MDC. It is with you and me. Its time to rise above party politics and leave a legacy for our contemporaries and for children yet to be born. Come, lets invest in our Zimbabwe, come lets make laws favourable for our nation, come lets reshape our future politicians…prepare the platform, make it even. Lets get involved directly and practically…come lets build Zimbabwe.

  20. Having been in South Africa for quite some time, I sympathise with what you experienced in America-this unbrazen hypocrisy and sensationalisation of lies. However its not everything which foreigners say, there is also a great deal of truth in some of those things. As much as I love my country, and you always feel this urge to be patriotic, sometimes its so difficult to defend some of the things which happen home. Being a Zimbabwean is also part of my identity, and if a foreigner attacks Zimbabwe I feel like its me who is being attacked. I tend to be on the defensive, after all noone is a saint. Every system has its own flaws. In that case, I sympathise with what you went through in America.

    As you said, you find many journalists who receive ‘awards’ for bravery, people you have never heard of in your life. Take for example Robyn Kriel who was mentioned by Michelle Obama when she was in SA, as a Zimbabwean woman who has put her life on
    the line fighting for democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe. Frankly, I have never heard of her. For me, its only about correcting misconceptions and distortions about Zimbabwe, if its true I leave that aside, while pointing out the abject poverty of many South African black people in Africa’s biggest economy. The most important thing, I think, is to be objective. Every country in the world is going through some crisis of some sort right now, Americans arguing about raising the debt ceiling, and lack of service delivery protests in South Africa, war in Libya, unstable governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya,,,violence in Nigeria and so on.

    This does not justify anything happening in Zim, but if you look at the bigger picture, as Zimbabweans we are getting out of the woods, albeit slowly. The latest Gallup survey now says, among countries surveyed in Southern Africa Zimbabwe had the highest percentage of people saying they are finding it easier to get by. The biggest challenge facing Zimbabwe right now, is staging free and fair elections, a new constitution, and a bill of rights which genuinely protects people’s basic rights. Those are the three things which I find very important that Zimbabwe should have. No other African country which went through colonialism can boast of having empowered its people economically more than Zimbabwe.Ghana maybe, but then its only one country. Well I think land reform is something which was necessary, but I do not agree with the way it was implemented.

  21. Ben says:

    Interesting post and comments.Highly informative and educative.Really enjoyed it.

  22. […] reaction to a blog post titled, I once met a Zimbabwean…, Munyaradzi really let me have it, lol… and given the fact that he is quite fond of me…it says […]

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