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The Zimbabwe In Pictures Team


Harvest of Thorns Part One – Education

Over the years many have predicted the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. However, the economy seemed to be able to defy the doomsayers and we all remarked on the resilience of both the country and its people. But the real collapse has now arrived. In this edition of Zimbabwe in Pictures newsletter– the first in a series called Harvest of Thorns – we look at the education sector and show how things have fallen apart.
On October 16 2008 – just 30 days after the signing of what some termed a historic deal – our political leaders were back at the Rainbow Towers in Harare – and not for a drink. On the agenda was the allocation of government ministries amongst the three parties – MDC (Tsvangirayi), MDC (Mutambara) and ZANU PF. True to character, Mr. Mugabe and ZANU were now reneging on the deal. Giving up power when all you ever known in your adult life is to be THE leader is heart-wrenching – if you do actually have a heart. So now there we were – warming the bar stools of the Rainbow Towers and buying whisky in greenbacks (oh the mighty dollar!) And all around Zimbabwe, people were saddled with the harvest of thorns Mr. Mugabe had bequeathed us. The thorns had grown in the place that Zimbabwean parents value most – the school yard.

A Zimbo will sell all her cattle to send that little one through school. And if now the cattle were gone and the school was amountain of rubble what would she do?At one of the state primary/preparatory schools that was still functional, the parents were not only paying the teachers’ salaries but they had gone further and raised foreign currency to enable the teachers to travel to South Africa for grocery shopping! On top of that the parents had met with the principal of a well-established high school to ensure that those learners moving to grade 8/form one were guaranteed of places. Look, reader, for the greater part of the 80s and 90s, we declared that politics was crap and we went on with our dirty little lives just trying to get that promotion, a company car and move to Marlbourough enroute to Borrowdale. Now we have discovered, rather late, that politics is too important to leave to politicians – especially to
a geriatric and deranged megalomaniac…

The bricks have fallen
We shall rebuild with dressed stone


Download Edition 14 HERE or View the Slideshow below

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EDITORIAL: The unscripted movie that is the new Zimbabwe

I HAD to be there on Monday 15 September. Up and early I struggled into a suit – jeans are my preferred item of clothing – but on this occasion I thought a suit might just be appropriate. I wasn’t exactly in a celebratory mood. Deep down I still felt that this was an unjust resolution to a simple problem – the lack of ZANU PF’s legitimacy. Mugabe had lost an election, had lost the support of the people. Now he would need to be accommodated – very much the way the National Party had to be acommodated by the African National Congress. It need not have ended this way. But our leaders had said this was the best compromise deal…



Edition 13 Slideshow

View Edition 13 as a slideshow or alternatively download the PDF version at the bottom of the Editorial.

EDITORIAL: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

IT WAS a rare week – the week beginning 11 August 2008. It was a week in which the Higher Being conspired to bring to the fore the contrasting values and aspirations of humanity. Thousands of miles away from Johannesburg a young white woman was winning a gold medal for a country that did not like nor trust her kind.
In a building in Sandton, Johannesburg, sat the most powerful patriarchs of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) – in town for a two-day meeting that would be dominated by one country and one man. Amongst the darksuited men were two rogues – one a demagogue with a penchant for rigging elections and the other an absolute monarch with a penchant for marrying a virgin every year. As these men bellyached with executive power and as some slept through the marathon speeches peppered with “your majesty, your excellencies…historic blah blah”, the people were gathering a storm outside.
Activists from various formations had gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre to give Robert Gabriel Mugabe and King Mswati III the red card. Maybe Voltaire was right – the voice of the people is the voice of God. You can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all the people all the time. The emperors had no clothes and you could see that the old bravado was gone.
But in the midst of the beauty of the struggle for another SADC, there was the little matter of the ugliness of the displaced foreign nationals – survivors of the horrific xenophobic violence. When the flames of hatred lit up South Africa in May 2008 the government had set up camps where thousands were housed.
Now a couple of months later the government wanted to close down the camps arguing that it was now safe for the foreign nationals to go back to the communities that had chased them away. But many were not convinced they were welcome back…This is the way our lives are. Ugliness in the oppression and starvation of our people by a brutal regime given to hypocritical Pan Africanist rhetoric.
Ugliness in the absolute rule of a monarch who bans all political activity and lives in obscene luxury whilst the people eke out a miserable existence. Beauty in our solidarity and commitment to a just and prosperous society. Beauty in our patriotism as seen in a 24-year old who could have decided to represent the US at the Olympics but chose to fly the Zimbabwean flag.
Our team brings you some of the photos that capture the above. We will be there when a new SADC is born. Afterall, we still believe in she-roes and he-roes and their ability to defeat the bad guys – whether in Harare or Mbabane.


PS: And oh this week in question was also one in which those Zimbabweans who own the franchise “Patriotism” and “Liberation” celebrated 28 years of glorious achievements.


Edition 12 Slideshow

View Edition 12 as a slideshow or alternatively download the PDF version at the bottom of the Editorial.

EDITORIAL: A different kind of Leader

Two weeks ago the great Oliver Mtukudzi (Tuku to his fans) performed at the National Arts Festival (www.nationalartsfestival.co.za), Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Grahamstown’s claim to fame is Rhodes University and the fact that this little pseudo-Victorian village was the site of titanic wars between the Xhosa and the English settlers. But Tuku had come to town to do something else other than fighting.
Tuku and his son, Sam, wowed the capacity crowds with a mix of old and new songs. Sam opened the concert with two solo numbers from his debut album, Rume Rimwe, and had the crowd chanting “Like father like son”. The multi-talented Sam played both the saxophone and the guitar and also showed that he can do some fancy moves of his own. But the show was really about his father whom he introduced, tongue-in-cheek, as “my brother, my friend and, because she is not here, my mum”.

When the Man came on stage you could feel the electricity in the air and, the showman that he is, he did not
disappoint. For a market that is difficult for African musicians to penetrate, Tuku has conquered South Africa pretty much the way he has done the whole world. But it was the Tuku I got to meet outside of the concert that impressed me the most. This was my second meeting with Tuku – the first meeting being in Nairobi at the World Social Forum in 2007. At that event i took lots of photos and some are published here.

When Tuku came to Grahamstown we invited him home with his group, and we spent a lovely afternoon chatting and, of course, had the obligatory sadza and meat. Tuku generously allowed me to record his show on video and we also spent time with him and the group backstage. The qualities that come from Tuku are unmistakable – he is a good listener, he is a warm person, he laughs a lot and he is humility personified. I think it is these qualities which inform his music and his stage persona – deep concern for society and the belief that music can change the world. This issue is a tribute to this great person, a great patriot. (Check Tuku’s website – www.tukumusic.com)

Chris Kabwato
Project Coordinator