Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zimbabwe: Looking for good sources? Here is one.

One of the scariest things about Robert Mugabe, is the way that he slips with ease into the category known as Crazy African Despot. And this just serves to further reinforce every horrendous stereotype about Africans most students in America hold.

In reality, its difficult to sort out what is happening in Zimbabwe. Most mainstream press reports are controlled by the narrative supplied by the White Rhodesian Farmer Who Has Been Relieved of His Land and American and British corporate nationalistic concerns. After all, Mugabe has chosen to sell Zimbabwe's choicest resources to China for the past several years. And American and Great Britain have been levying a series of sanctions against him which have, at minimum, not helped with Zimbabwe's economic woes.

And then there is the whole forced IMF restructuring the country experienced. I saw first-hand how difficult the situation was in Tanzania when they were forced to comply with those directives in the 1980's.

Finally, and most disturbingly, there is the sneaky way that stories about "savage Africa" so easily make their way into Western consciousness. We are far too ready to believe the worst: irrationality and inhumanity.

How nice to stumble across a blog, entitled Zimbabwe Review, that helps us contextualize reports in the popular press. The blog author is a Zimbabwean journalist and agricultural consultant who is, apparently, now based in Dakar but at one time ran an agricultural business in his home country of Zimbabwe. He has a long list of articles about Africa which are linked here.

He has a nice piece calling for an objective view of the Zimbabwe situation and expressing his own frustrations with the Western narrative about Africans that makes "us" easily misrepresent the situation in Zimbabwe. here. This article could be used in class as a powerful corrective to many student's assumptions.

You can check out his most recent post: Zimbabwe’s continuing land contestation and the symbolisms of ex-farmer Roy Bennett’s legal troubles for a thorough and rational discussion of the latest news out of Zimbabwe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what does this have to do with anthropology