Zimbabwe at 33: Still Yearning for Freedom

Zimbabwe in 1980
Zimbabwe in 1980

As the 18th of April rolls about many Zimbabweans are asking, “What we are celebrating?”  The rhetoric from the ruling party is freedom from colonialism, but after 33 years what does that really mean to an ordinary Zimbabwean? Independence celebration is a reminder of the shattered dreams and hopes of a people who once believed that independence would bring the dignity that colonialism had robbed them of.

The potholed roads and dilapidated system the darkness at night due to lack of electricity and dilapidated infrastructure are all painful reminders of broken promises of a once promising land. This is a reminder to those whose children gave their lives for freedom and emancipation of the Zimbabweans that they died in vain.

The Mercedes and Range Rovers that line the driveways of Harare’s northern suburbs are a reminder that the land has diamonds galore and those with the connections are enjoying the fruits of ZANU-PF party membership.  The Indigenization program is working if you belong to the ‘right’ political party.

The swimming pools now filled with dirty stagnant water are remnants of the once urban paradise of Harare. The pumps have either been stolen or rusted away not a priority for the headmasters at a once beautiful school. The paint is peeling and what was once well kept green grass field has turned brown and neglected and full of weeds. One has to wonder where the students are now playing cricket and rugby.

Zim independenceThe number of people texting on the street is a reminder of the advances of mobile technology but also reminiscent of ZANU-PF desire to thwart entrepreneurs. Everyone wants to be seen with the coveted iPhone,  a reminder that Harare is indeed a modern city and skyscrapers are going up by the day.

The asylees and refugees who have fled to distant lands separated from their families and loved one are wondering when real Independence Day will come. To them the 18th of April does not have much meaning,  they are just waiting to be reunited in the motherland.

The only thing that says that says that Zimbabwe is not Rhodesia is the face of the leader. The 89 year old is still grappling for power. Human Rights Organizations are still fighting for freedom of speech to exercise their right to free and fair elections. As Zimbabweans reflect on Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe they realize that looking from Smith to Mugabe, Mugabe to Smith and Smith to Mugabe already it is hard to say who represents sovereignty.

Happy Independence Day to Zimbabwe!