You lied, Delta

In 2011, I said something so unpopular that several of my close friends took me to task over it.

But of all the people who vehemently disagreed with me; I remember that Munyaradzi (who’s more like a young brother to me) called me a liar.

In 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 something for him to have responded in such a vehement fashion:

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 you must be aware of the 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 loose 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 rosy as you were trying to paint.

We have weaknesses 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 representative Delta.

“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.” ― Joseph Joubert

And in my response, on the comments section of the same blog post – I said:

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 side of the 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 the 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??

So having established in my post from yesterday that I have a right to be wrong – this post is about continuing a conversation around the emotive land issue.

It is a conversation I started in a YouTube video (whose backlash was the subject of my last blog post) and it is a conversation that carried over to the blog post which is the subject of this current post and it is a conversation that carried over into my MA dissertation where the enlightening views of academics such as T.O Ranger, Blessing-Miles Tendi, Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu, Sarah Chiumbu, James Muzondidya, Brian Raftopolous, Norma Kriger, Sue Onslow among many others shed a lot of light on my own preoccupations with Zimbabwe’s history and the centrality of the land question.

I am still on a quest to fathom the meaning and nuances of it all. And if advancing unpopular views and playing the devil’s advocate is a price to pay for a more honest reflection on the issue – then I will exercise my right to be wrong and defy every ideological bully who would presume to insult me into ‘submission’.

How can we know the answers if we’re too scared (of what people will think of us) to ask the questions?

A woman who said ‘something’ important… 2009; this woman said something important. Maybe she was wrong, maybe she was right - but I'm just glad she had the guts to say it!(pic by

The name ‘Dambisa Moyo’ is one I vaguely recall hearing here and there, but my disinterest was such that I cannot even pinpoint where or when. I just have a fuzzy notion that the name has been said in my hearing on many an occasion.

Until recently; it is not one that would have piqued my interest, never mind galvanizing me into writing an entire blogpost on her.

This sudden interest was sparked by the fact that I befriended a Chartered Accountant a while ago and he is an engaging conversationalist whose only fault is that he just won’t shut up about how remarkable Dambisa Moyo is.

Now seeing as how Dambisa Moyo’s awesomeness was becoming a recurring conversational theme and how she was a constant reference point in our discussions- I thought it wise to find out who the hell this woman really was and what all the fuss was about!

Well, I did my research and I still cannot answer who the hell she is but I think I have a good idea what all the fuss is about.

If you’re really interested in specificities regarding Dambisa Moyo you are welcome to ‘google’ her; I am not really writing authoritatively on her – so for the purposes of this post I’ll identify her as Zambian-born author and economist.

Now, I am not an economist, have never been particularly concerned with that field of study and having come across the storm of controversy Dambisa Moyo’s books have stirred – I think I should read around the subject a bit.

A disclaimer before I go on – I have NOT read Dambisa Moyo’s books (I hope to do so soon) hence the title of my post… as far as I know she is a woman who said ‘something’ important in one or both of her books. I say ‘something’ because I have no idea what exactly she said I am just convinced it was important.

The reason why I think she said something important is because while doing my research I came across a lot of praise for her book and insights on economics, Africa, aid and what-not. The praise was lavish and made for some entertaining reading.

However, it was the harsh criticism that really caught my attention. Oh, didn’t they just shred her, tear her to bits and pieces, flog and flay her views; stamp and spit and spew venom in response to whatever she had opined in her book (specifically Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa published in 2009).

It was the criticism, the meanness and the vileness of it that convinced me (as nothing else would have) that this woman said something important. Again I am not at liberty to state categorically what the important thing she said is for the reasons given above.

I am just of the opinion that you have to have said something pretty damn important to grab that kind of attention, stir that sort of controversy and attract that kind of brutal criticism.

Sometimes even when what we have to say is wrong… if it is important – it will get a reaction precisely because its wrongness points to what is right. I don’t know if that’s the case with Dambisa Moyo but a lot of learned people disagree vehemently with her and a lot of equally learned ones agree with her views.

Whatever it is they are quarrelling about (what do I know about economics?) – it must mean she said something important.

Below are quotes from various reviewers including Donor Organizations on the contentious matter of Dambisa Moyo’s writing:

Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo, who advocates scrapping aid to Africa, creates a sensation wherever she goes. Her critics say she is nothing but a media hype, but she is nevertheless an African voice in a debate dominated by white men. – Critics dismiss Dambisa Moyo as 'media hype'

One suspects that behind this book is a remarkable woman with an impressive career and very little time for learning how to write a good book. The result is an erratic, breathless sweep through aid history and current policy options for Africa, sprinkled with the odd statistic. There are so many generalisations skidding over decades of history, such frequent pre-emptory glib conclusions, that it is likely to leave you dizzy with silent protest. This is Moyo at her weakest; she is an economist by training and her grasp of the political economy of Africa is lamentable. Time and again, she fails to grapple with the single biggest factor determining the poverty of the continent – how the state functions, and has failed to function. – The road to ruin

…here we have a Zambian academic weighing in on a subject that has been the preserve of self-appointed “development experts”. I have always found it challenging to review papers or books penned by fellow Zambians as my natural propensity is to cheer every sentence and offer support. But of late I have found the call to review Dambisa’s book too loud to ignore…Dead Aid falls far short of what is expected of a book advocating such a radical proposal of “turning off the aid tap”. If there’s any consolation in this assessment, it is that Dead Aid will hopefully not find any intellectual traction. – A Zambian Economist Review

The book is sporadically footnoted, selective in its use of facts, sloppy, simplistic, illogical, and stunningly naive…Moyo’s concerns are old and poorly argued, but I close constructively. For her concerns are also serious. She is passionate and authentic as she tries to tackle and explain big ideas. This is an early effort, and she can improve. Going forward, she must give up the search for easy answers. – Dambisa Moyo Discovers Key to Ending Poverty

“Mrs Moyo is not the voice of Africa”, he said. “She lives in an Ivory Tower far away from the reality of Africa. Perhaps she should go back to Zambia to see how much that country still needs help. Maybe then I will pay better attention to her” – John Kufuor, former president of Ghana</a

The big opponents of aid today are Dambisa Moyo, an African-born economist who reportedly received scholarships so that she could go to Harvard and Oxford but sees nothing wrong in denying $10 in aid to an African child for an anti-malaria bed net – Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

I could go on and on… but the bottom line is I am inspired. Inspired to go right ahead and write my own book about whatever the hell I like and state whatever the hell I think and fearlessly express my own opinion and not be afraid of the critics. They could be right and I could be wrong. But I’ll have my say regardless. Thank you Dambisa Moyo, for whatever it is you said – that seems to have been so damn important!

"Too many African countries have already hit rock-bottom -- ungoverned, poverty-stricken, and lagging further and further behind the rest of the world each day; there is nowhere further to go down." - Dambisa Moyo (pic by wikipedia)