38 years after Independence, I choose to hope

18 April 1980 looked like one big party. In fact, from the video footage that’s played on repeat as Independence Day draws closer, 1980 in general looked like one big party. It’s understandable: after almost a century of colonial rule and war, majority rule was reality. Even Bob Marley came to celebrate with us! Which other country can say that the reggae legend penned and performed a whole song for them?

I often wonder about the people captured in those videos. Their carefree smiles, the way they walked down the street in confidence – streets that they weren’t able to walk down before. What happened to them? When did that exuberance become despair, anger, then resignation? After all, they’re the generation that witnessed everything: Ian Smith’s government, the Second Chimurenga, Independence Day, then the slow descent into the Zimbabwe of 2018.

It’s painful to watch those videos from 1980, seeing such hope for a brighter future, only to arrive at that future and find their dreams turn to dust.

As a country, we’ve been through the highs and the lows. Colonisation. Oppressive racial rule. Struggle. Liberation. Freedom. Black empowerment. Censorship. Fear. No money. No jobs. It’s painful to watch those videos from 1980, seeing such hope for a brighter future, only to arrive at that future and find their dreams turn to dust.

Daring to hope

But here’s the funny thing about hope: it’s incredibly difficult to shake off. Even when there seem to be no prospects on the horizon, hope sneaks up on you and takes hold. And so even now, after over 20 years of countrywide decline, I have hope. I have hope because I think of the people in those videos. They were young, in their 20s – just like I am. They’d hoped and prayed for a day where freedom would come. At times it must have felt like it would never come. They were fighting against near impossible odds, against a system that resisted change. They were fighting to reclaim their future and the opportunity to build a life for themselves in their country.

Sound familiar?

Hope assures me that this is not the only Zimbabwe I will ever know

They had hope, and on 18 April 1980, their hopes were realised. It was not an easy or short journey to Independence, but it happened. So I have hope and faith that one day, Zimbabwe will get back on its feet. Hope is powerful because it’s a rejection of present circumstances. It lets you look beyond the despair of the present and envision a better reality. Hope assures me that this is not the only Zimbabwe I will ever know. That’s what Independence Day should symbolise: not grandstanding or political rhetoric, but a validation and realisation of hope. Because if no one back then had hope that independence from colonial rule would become reality, where would Zimbabwe be now?

Header image sourced from John Mauluka

Photos in collage sourced from NewZimbabawe and Stan Winer.

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Tinashe Jani: entreprenuer

This is the first profile in a series on young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs venturing into new industries.

Entrepreneurship is a buzzword in Zimbabwe. Calls for young people to get involved in business and start their own ventures have come from politicians, newspapers and parents. Being your own boss sounds appealing, and some of the country’s biggest business success stories have come from individuals who have decided to step out of the conventional and start their own enterprise. Strive Masiyiwa. Simbarashe Mhuriro. Divine Ndhlukula. And despite what you may think of him, yes even Philip Chiyangwa.

Meet Tinashe

“It’s a certain lifestyle that I’ve always wanted.”

Tinashe Jani is one of the people driven to start his own business. It’s a world that’s familiar to him. After all, his parents were entrepreneurs. “They (his parents) run their own businesses. Sometimes they switch from selling wax to selling ice. I’ve seen businesses start, businesses that paid my school fees.”

Even though his parents provided for him, they also made sure that he worked for some of the extra luxuries he wanted. And in 2008, still a high school student, his journey into entrepreneurship began.

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Why the diaspora vote matters

I have relatives living and working outside Zimbabwe. Some have moved fairly recently after securing work permits. Others have been away from home for over a decade. They visit when they can, sending gifts and money when they can’t.

My family is by no means the exception. Exact figures are hard to come by, but estimates suggest that there are approximately four million Zimbabweans living and working outside the country. They live, work and study mainly in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Botswana and Australia. The departure of so many Zimbabweans – an exodus accelerated by economic deterioration – affected all aspects of society. Grandparents have watched their grandchildren grow up through Whatsapp massages and phone calls. Spouses have lived countries apart, grieving children and parents unable to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones. People in the diaspora have supported families, built homes, helped start businesses and provided much needed financial relief for the people they left at home.

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This is NOT normal

In a few short hours, bond notes are going to be on the streets. After months of citizens campaigning against their introduction. After pleas for the Reserve Bank and the government to try anything, ANYTHING, other than both notes. After the people of Zimbabwe have gone blue in the face saying that under no circumstances do we want bond notes. Yes, despite all this, our calls went unheeded. Bond notes shall reign supreme at our expense.

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Nigel: Young. Zimbabwean. Gay.

Nigel James has been living in South Africa since 2014, living on his own and working in Johannesburg. An independent and hardworking soul, Nigel relishes in the fast-paced life there, but he still follows events going on in Zimbabwe, with a particular investment in the resurgence of citizen movements. Despite this desire to contribute, Nigel hasn’t been back to Zimbabwe in three years. And there’s two very good reasons why. Continue reading →

Tanya’s Nefertari

Nefertari means “beautiful companion”. An Egyptian queen and wife of Ramses the Great, Nefertari is celebrated for her beauty and style. She’s a fitting inspiration for Tanyaradzwa Mushayi, who has always had a fascination with Kemet and ancient history. “I thought why not mix my Shona name with my obsession with Kemet.” So she married the two names together, and the Tanya Nefertari brand came into being.

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Driving down Samora

Samora Machel Avenue has to be the longest road I’ve ever driven. It cuts through suburbs, the hustle and bustle of Harare’s central business district, branching off into its many little tributaries that run through the city. It is long, straight, rarely bends, and serves as an artery to the capital city’s daily pulse. Continue reading →