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.
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