A brief summary of a big shut down – Zimbabwe blackout

15/01/19

While Brexit deals fail again…

Zimbabwe faces government violence and an internet shutdown following protests over ridiculously high increases in fuel prices.

A country described as ‘hopeful’ only a few short months ago has been forced to face the reality of a continuation of an unstructured economy and corrupt leadership. Desperate times at the end of 2018 saw poverty at new levels as the country’s forced dependance on the ‘Zimbabwean Dollar’ led to a lack of monetary security. With an unrecognised currency and black-market trading of USD, a build up of distress and uncertainty have been rife amongst citizens. Shortages of imported products have arisen and affected locals badly, in particular, a shortage of fuel. Long queues of cars were lined up over the Christmas period, and the struggle to get fuel has spilt into January where there are stories of people sleeping in their cars for several nights in the hope of filling up their tanks. 

Earlier this month (January 2019), Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory authorities (ZERA) announced the fuel price had increased by more than 100%, making the price of fuel over $3 a litre. This was as requested by the finance minister and, understandably, the steep hike in price caused an outcry amongst the Zimbabwean citizens, already frustrated at socio-economic shortcomings the country is facing. Following protests and an organised community shutdown of shops and work places on the 14th and 15th of January, the Zimbabwean Goverment responded by cutting the country’s communication off from the rest of the world in what is being called, ‘an internet blackout’.

The blackout has happened amidst violent government-organised raids in township areas in Zimbabwe. Sunday Times journalist Ray Ndlovu says the Zimbabwean government has confirmed 200 arrests and according to Cape Talk,  Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says tension is increasing and at least six people have already been killed. 

With Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile phone operator, Econet, and others now shut down, it is hard to know what is going on in the country.  We hope for strength and pray for safety – these are innocent people who if anything, deserve a voice.

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It’s my favorite thing, I think.

Here now,  my mind feels still. It is because of the African sky, I think.

The setting sun does something strange to my mind, it makes it clear. And that’s unusual you know, for humans. We worry very much about very little. Drawing complicated patterns in our minds to dictate how things should be, making sour faces at the past; at awkward conversations and embarrassing miscellaneous feelings that don’t fit in with logic. I have realised something though, I think, that feelings and hurt and awkwardness and rejection are actually quite beautiful. I suppose it is because they are very real, and if we don’t have what is real, well then, what are we left with?

That is what the sun reminded me. It is because, when I look at it, it makes everything else in my mind go away. The sky is the biggest thing in the world. Bigger than me. Bigger than all our problems put together even. And the sun is the brightest thing. So bright it can blind us – In a good way –  from unnecessary anxieties that become the only vision we know.

Yesterday I watched it set over the dam. The water was still, as still as my mind feels now like if I stroked my fingertips across it they would not get wet because the top was made of glass. When my eyes saw the African sun setting, I was reminded of colours I had forgotten existed. Pinks and reds as vivid as a hundred thousand bougainvilleas, growing rapidly across the sky, except without thorns, smooth. Yes, as silky and bold as stained oil across the horizon –  Exploding then dripping. It was like the thin tangerine clouds and the flames of the sun were thrusting the warm, oily colours in whatever direction they pleased, downwards even, so that they spilled across the glass water. And cupped hands of saturated sepia engulfed my world.

A lot of people write about it, the African Sun, I think because it is difficult to describe – tangible and untouchable all at once –  but maybe it is not that, maybe they write about it because it makes them feel happy. Perhaps at that moment they also forget about yesterday and turn their face away from the worries of an unknown tomorrow. Maybe the sun and the bougainvillea coloured sky have the same power over all of the universe. Humans catch themselves reminded of what is real and beautiful. Perhaps colour is the voice of the sun, a whisper – loud – saying that the things we regret and the things that make us uncomfortable are not so important. When, one day, you see an African sunset, properly see it, clearly enough that it empties your mind –  It gives a bit of itself to you, like a burning cinder of flames has placed itself in the center of your soul, leaving it alive with a desire to return. For Werner, it was the sea, but the setting African sun…  It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen.

RE: JESSE WATTERS “ WE DON’T WANT SOME GUY’S UNCLE FROM ZIMBABWE”.

 

A few thoughts on some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe…

‘Bright’ human beings are as likely to be clothed in humility and hard work as they are scholarly accomplishments – I believe some of the most prized ideas come from those who think outside the box of traditional intellectual conforms – But since it’s been drawn to our attention:
Some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe comes from a country frequently reported as having the highest literacy rate in Africa.  89% of the adult population are literate, according to World Bank data from 2014, with recent figures claiming that figure is 90% – Yup, the highest adult literacy rate on the continent. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the United States can’t read, that’s 14 percent of the population… A higher figure of illiteracy than Zimbabwe’s 10 percent.

Secondly,  some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has lived through a civil war, an inflation rate peaking at 231 million percent and a 37 year dictatorship. Whether he was a farm worker or farm owner, a mechanic or medic, a bank owner, a miner, a sales assistant or a gardener, he has suffered and seen suffering and yet Zimbabweans are still celebrated for always smiling. How’s that for merit?

As well as the likelihood of him being one of the friendliest, most hardworking men you will encounter, some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has a name and a face and a family and a community. Just like your uncle, my uncle, and anyone else’s uncle, some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has an untold story and he, like us, is entitled to a past and a future. Yes – the complications associated with an influx of refugees into any country can by no means be overlooked, but surely the issue runs deeper than a prejudiced and heedless dismissal of human worth.

Have a chat to some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe – I reckon he’d surprise you –  And don’t get me started on some guy’s aunt

Africa day away from Africa

Savanna’s on my mind – 

Vast blankets of gold that we’ve left far behind.

Dreaming of a sky that quivers with amber and gold;

 Ineffable warmth with a delicate hold.

The Welsh call it hireath – a majestic kind of pain;

An ache for roaring skies and emancipating rain,

A longing for deep drums and swirling maroon dust,

For bare feet on baked ground

– Ethereal lust

 Africans in a home far away –

Somnambulists in a world of sophisticated grey.

Amongst city hype, let a soul stray

– Soak up the limerence that never fully goes away.

Happiness is an eclipse where we’re never alone,

But God, there’s only one place I’ll ever truly call home.

We’ll step away, for a day, from big city lights 

And remember white stars breathed across warm, navy nights.

We’ll imagine the thunder, breathe in petrichor air

And just for today

I’ll pretend I was there. 

 

Goodbye, Mugabe.

Do you hear the chanting voices, Mugabe? Suppression now outspoken.

Standing side-by-side, Zimbabwe, courageous and unbroken.

We call you out old man, we have witnessed what you’ve done –

Once strangled by your terror, now we sing as one.

You stood and spat Mugabe; you stripped a nation bare,

You laughed as people fled – Gleamed satisfaction from despair.

You turned emerald fields to ashes, amber soils to a grey sea of neglect,

Colluded stealthily with greed, then watched it’s poison take effect.

Your feet stamped out hospital buildings, once hives of hope and health;

Leaving operations under flickering lights, while you inhaled putrid, seething wealth.

Families fled to borders and schools crumbled with your reign,

But now a nation rise Mugabe – We hold you to that pain.

You saw souls of hungry eyes, stood back and pulled a trigger;

You thought of us as weak, Mugabe, always thought that you were bigger. 

You turned gold to worthless paper, sunk the economy to a blackened, thieving grave

While you watched from your Mercedes, Mugabe – A lavish, tinted cave. 

Now whispers have turned to army trucks, your pedestal must burn

It’s been 37 years old man, you’ve long out-played your turn. 

There is the tremble of the anthem as thousands of voices chant

For all the things that they have hoped for; on behalf of all who can’t. 

When you leave your feet will sting, Mugabe, they will walk on shattered shards of broken honour

As Zimbabweans stand together and sing – Ndebele, White and Shona.

For the final time: President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Nation, be set free.

Simudzai Mureza Wedu WeZimbabwe

Zimbabwean BOND

BOND Bond/ Noun

– A manacle or form of constraint used to restrain/ restrict/ limit freedom in a profuse manner.

– (Traditionally) A shackle forcefully holding prisoners captive in their cells.

– (Currently) A shackle forcefully holding prisoners (innocent civilians) captive amidst their ‘protectors’ blunders.

– A tie so unrelenting that escape is not an option. Ropes of government avarice that grip the thinning wrists of a country with vehemence.  


BOND (NOTE) Bond(note)/ Noun

– A legal tender introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2016 as a means to escape liquidation.

– ‘Money’ with counterfeit worth. A tender with no internationally recognised significance/substance/use. Diamond dreams substituted for worthless replications of physical value.

– Grotesque paper sheets given to the poor/hungry/hardworking/helpless while the President’s wife goes shopping for rings and hats in South Africa.
And still, “By grace the people are saved….”

 

BOND Bond/ Noun 

– Unison as a result of overwhelming mutual emotion.

– A closeness due to circumstance and/or natural collective sentiment.

– An inexplicable togetherness of a suffering nation.

–  A silent unanimity among those aboard a sinking ship.

 

Whispers of “2008, 2008” slide between conversations and memories of how harsh an aborted economy can be seep to the foremost thoughts of already troubled minds. In 2008 Zimbabwe grovelled – We hit what we knew to be the lowest of the low. Fuel prices rocketed and fuel gauges dropped to sub-zero. Shelves emptied and stomaches did too. Now it is September 2017 and the fuel lines are growing, the shops are emptying. The people are praying… The government is still sitting.
We need the bond of a nation not the shackles of a futile currency. We need prayers and hope and courage. We need a stand and a voice and a fight.

Photograph taken by Dirk jan Visser in 2007. Start of the crises that was to lead to the dilapidated year of 2008.

 

Pastor Evan Mawarire mirrors the frustrated sentiment of Zimbabweans as he speaks out against the relentless government regime;

Big Blue

I hope I never see the day when the power of salt and sand and sea and sun are completely forgotten – The day we let the glory of nature go and only seek happiness in a worldly, man-made mess. We too easily lose sight of what is good and what is real –

Big blue, I turn to you.

Tumble down you turquoise blue 

And let me feel the weight of you.

A solid engulfing sunshine mess,

Swallow me into cooler depths.

Take watery hands right down my spine,

Make your world a world of mine. 

Ocean hands stroke sandy hair

Salted brush of rippling care.

Blue eyes stare at a bluer gaze 

And sting with beauty’s bitter haze.

A moments pause of space and time

Falls within your living shrine

Freedom is the weight of blue

Only me. Only you. 

True navy take me deeper, deeper 

And lift my soul with every meter. 

A compass lost to all direction 

I subsist with only blue affection

Silent, stagnant muffled sound

Heart on ribs, a gently pound.

Deluge me you majestic ocean

Leave intuition lost, unspoken

I become your subtle unlade shell

A body bending with your swell

You have engulfed me you eternal blue 

You exist in me and I in you

Thoughts deserted, I only feel

And in this second – life is real.