Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights - Zimbabwe

Bloggers Unite
Today bloggers all over the world will be publishing posts showing their support for human rights. It is a sad indictment of our world that people like me can while away hours reading and writing about trivial matters when so many people don't have the most basic rights. I can't change the world but I can spend a day in solidarity with those whose rights are being violated in many countries: those who have no freedom of speech, no political rights or representation, those who are beaten, tortured, driven off their land; those who hope that we will hear and support them.

I want to draw attention to Zimbabwe, the country where my husband spent his childhood in far happier, more prosperous times, when Zimbabwe was the Breadbasket of Africa. The glimmer of hope we felt when the recent elections took place has faded as we read of renewed beatings, mutilations and imprisonments. Yet today I read this humbling, hopeful letter on Mags Kriel's Letters from Zimbabwe website:

Dear World, Remember Me? - 14/5/2008

Dear World, Remember Me?

Over a year ago, when I was sixteen, I wrote a letter to you, the world, regarding my homeland, Zimbabwe. Well, in five months, I will be eighteen, and we're still here; still broken. But, it's different now - the Winds of Change blow over the sands of Africa. There is an air of expectancy hanging over Zimbabwe, and the brooding horizon of the Future has crept a little closer than it ever has before.

For the first time, some dare to hope. Emotions run high as the fluctuating results of our elections seep through to the people. No one will admit it, for fear of disappointment, but, deep inside the hearts of Zimbabweans, flickering within these Children of Repression, something akin to the Hope we used to know ignites. With bated breath and shining eyes, we watch as the tiny flame of Hope, though small, begins to glow ever more brightly. Sure, there has been nothing definite, but when one has experienced suffering as Zimbabwe has, the faintest hint of Change, a mere breath upon the wind, is as blatantly obvious as the Dawn. And Dawn it is. After the longest Night of our lives, Dawn is about to break. There may be no rays evident upon the horizon as yet, but the Sun is there, ready to break free of its chains and Light our paths once again.

Like the coming of the Storm, the imminent arrival of the Change we had despaired after now burns through my blood. Suppressed excitement is betrayed by the hushed whispers that fly through our community like birds set free. Freedom, yes... Is that so much to ask for?

We have kept Faith, for a quarter of a century, and now, finally, finally, we are on the verge of Tomorrow. It took all we possessed to hold onto what little Hope we had, and many fell prey to Dejection, but we are Zimbabweans: Hope will forever burn in our hearts! Even in the Darkest of Days, we will hold our heads high, because, really, Pride, along with Hope, is all we have... (No food, no electricity, no food, no fuel, no food... It's hard to eat Hope, but it kept us alive regardless!)

And so, but a page away from the end, I wish to extend all the gratitude of my heart to you, the World. Though we are not quite free yet, our bonds are frayed, our cages rusted - they cannot hold us forever! To those of you who heard my plea, to those of you who listened, to those who cared - thank you. Thank you for your sympathy, thank you for your assistance, thank you for your prayers. Because you kept us in your thoughts, Someone, Something, out there, came through for us; Fate backed off, and we got to our feet, at last. So thank you.

As I said, it's not over yet, but we're so close I can almost taste it! To my fellow Zimbabweans, my People, Black, White, Indian, Multi-racial, all; both within this prison and outside of it, well, look at us... Look at what we are... We are a nation of survivors, eternally adaptable, suitably humble, and damn near indestructible! We have been to hell and back; we've seen horrors, and lived worse, and now, we appreciate Beauty, we appreciate Life. They couldn't beat us. They sure tried, and they very nearly did, but we're still here! And I, for one, am proud to be a Zimbabwean!

There's no grass here at the moment, so I guess it is definitely greener on the other side, but it will grow. We even had a good rainy season last year. The best we've had for a long time. Our country has been washed clean, bar a few stains, and once we've BLEACHED those, we can cut the cloth and fashion our Home into whatever we want it to be! And the grass? The grass will grow.

Fear of Change is fear of the Future, and if we fear the Future we will remain stuck in the Past. Now is the time for Change. Now is the dawn of the Future. And I... I am not afraid. No, I am not afraid.

Soon, when this is all over, and we may breathe again, I hope to see my brethren, free and unafraid, return to this, our country; our home, Zimbabwe. I hope to see the Future restore my Thriving, Living, Loving People, and I will not settle for anything less.

So, to you, the world, thank you. We're almost there; so close, so, so close. I was born into this version of Zimbabwe - it is all I have ever known. But I know it was better before, and we will be the Breadbasket of Africa once more. Never again will we allow ourselves to be dominated like this - NEVER. Now, all that remains after this Long, Dark War, is to rebuild. We will need all of your support in the Future, for to rebuild our Lives, our Homes, our Country, will take as much determination as surviving this Dark Era did, and the process of picking ourselves up will be even more arduous than bearing the beatings of the Past. And so, I implore you, remember us, the Nation that was brought to its knees, but which refused to give in. Remember us. And to the Zimbabweans out there, come home... This country is nothing without its People!

As we move on, and away from the Darkness of our past, let us remember: Humanity's history may have been written in blood, but our future doesn't have to be!

To the world, thank you,
Tanya Hunt
(An almost-eighteen year old Zimbabwean)

I hope the world will not disappoint Tanya and all the other people of Zimbabwe.


  1. Great post, M. I met a guy from Zimbabwe, Francis, on my first day at university. He was studying politics and economics. This sheltered Home Counties girl learned a lot about life southern Africa from him and his compatriots, including a few essential phrases in Shona, most of which I have forgotten, but the one that always stuck in my mind is "Unoenda kupi?" (Where do you go?). He returned to Zimbabwe in 1981 and we lost touch. I often wonder what became of his political optimism, and what became of him, whether he is still alive (which often seems most unlikely) and if so what kind of a life he has led compared with mine. Unoenda kupi, Francis?

  2. What a lovely phrase, J. My husband and his friends spoke Fanakalo, a pidgin used as a common language between the Shona, Sendebele, Afrikaans and English speakers. He's not sure of the spelling, since it was an oral language, but he would say "Upi wena humba?" Whichever language we use, "Where do you go, Zimbabwe?" seems like a good question to be asking today.

  3. What an amazing, wonderful letter, M. And what an amazing young woman. It ought to be compulsory reading for all those politicians beyond Zimbabwe's borders who have wrung their hands and done - nothing.


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