Panashe Chigumadzi

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A memorial to Desmond Tutu at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, 28 December 2021. Photograph: Nardus Engelbrecht/AP

Under a 1986 newsletter headline, “Ubuntu, Abantu, Abelungu”, Black Sash, the anti-apartheid organisation founded as the vanguard of white liberal women’s opposition in South Africa, reported surprising findings from a white fieldworker in their programme against forced land removals – Black people of the land do not consider white people to be people. That is, we do not consider them to be Abantu. Instead, they are abelungu.

“Ubuntu, Abantu, Abelungu” appeared a few years before the late archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu thrust Ubuntu – the African philosophy best understood through the proverb found in Bantu languages across the continent, “umuntu ngumuntu ngabanye bantu” (a person is a person through other people) – into the global imagination as he presided over post-apartheid South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission (TRC).…  Seguir leyendo »

The remains of a 2013 election poster for Robert Mugabe in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Mr. Mugabe, who ran the country for 37 years, died on Friday. Credit Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The death of Robert Mugabe, the 95-year-old former president of Zimbabwe, on Friday elicited a mixed and somewhat subdued response from Zimbabweans, in part because he had already suffered his political death after being overthrown by the military in 2017.

Zimbabweans had celebrated the end of Mr. Mugabe’s 37-year-rule with enthusiasm on the streets and on social media. Until the coup, we Zimbabweans had been resigned to living under Mr. Mugabe’s rule till his death. There was a feeling he would outlive us.

After his ouster, Mr. Mugabe’s presidential portrait was replaced in public buildings by that of his longtime associate Emmerson Mnangagwa, who created a certain narrative of the coup: Emmerson was the dutiful son who merely took the reins from Robert, the ailing father and liberation hero who was being abused by his much younger second wife, Grace and her cronies, a faction of politicians who were born too late to participate in the war of the 1970s that ended white minority rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers patrolled as people gathered in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday to protest a steep increase in fuel prices. Credit Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

After replacing Robert Mugabe as the president of Zimbabwe in late 2017, Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a “new” Zimbabwe, a country with “a thriving and open economy, jobs for its youth, opportunities for investors and democracy and equal rights for all”. But those hopes have died as Mr. Mnangagwa has turned out to be no different from the strongman he served for decades and eventually deposed.

On Sunday, Mr. Mnangagwa announced a more than 150 percent increase in the fuel price. In response, the Zimbabwean Congress of Trade Unions and the prominent civil society leader Pastor Evan Mawarire called for a three-day strike starting Monday against the increasing fuel price and worsening economic conditions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zimbabwean anti-riot police officers at the Rainbow Towers where the election’s results were announced, as supporters of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), protest against alleged widespread fraud by the election authority and ruling party, in Harare, on August 1, 2018. Credit Luis Tato/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The old guns have retained power in Zimbabwe. On Friday the country’s constitutional court confirmed Emmerson Mnangagwa, the leader of the incumbent Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, as the president after rejecting a legal challenge by the leading opposition party seeking the annulment of the results of the country’s July 30 election.

According to the official results, the incumbent ZANU-PF led by Mr. Mnangagwa narrowly won the elections — the first after the fall of Robert Mugabe — with 50.8 percent of the vote, and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa won 44.3 percent of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

Now-ousted Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe kisses his wife, Grace Mugabe, during the country’s Independence Day celebrations in Harare on April 18. (Getty Images)

As former president Robert Mugabe and his second wife, Grace Mugabe, prepare to make their exit from Zimbabwe’s State House, Zimbabweans have hankered for “Amai” (Mother) Sally, his late first wife, who is fondly remembered as a “very sensitive and intelligent woman” who may have been a ““restraining influence” on her husband.

On the day of the military intervention earlier this month, the veteran South Africa-based Zimbabwean journalist Peter Ndoro tweeted the following:

“As developments continue to unfold in #Zimbabwe #RobertMugabe might be looking back and wondering if … his rule wasn’t a tale of two wives. One that died too soon and the other that ended up being his Achilles heel.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Jacob Zuma of South Africa during celebrations for his 75th birthday this month. Credit John Wessels/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“Heh, you people, you used to laugh at us. Look at you now. You can’t even buy a bottle of Coke!”

It was the early 2000s, during the economic free-fall that had followed Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform program, which began 20 years after the country had won its political independence from Ian Smith’s settler colonial regime. My parents were visiting Zambia from South Africa and in the town of Livingstone met a woman who, upon discovering that they were Zimbabwean, could not hide her schadenfreude.

She recalled the period in the late 1980s when Zambians had flocked to Zimbabwe to buy basic goods with Zambian bank notes that had lost much of their former value, thanks to hyperinflation and economic instability caused by a series of so-called structural adjustment programs.…  Seguir leyendo »

An anti-xenophobia march in Durban on 16 April 2015. ‘Until 1994’s elections, black South Africans were not citizens of South Africa, but of ‘Homelands’ or ‘Bantustans’. Photograph: STR/EPA

In 1994 Shoshozola became the unofficial anthem of South Africa’s “miracle” transition into democracy. Taking its title from the Ndebele word for “going forward”, it was a song expressing the hardship of the lives of migrant labourers from what was then Rhodesia, who travelled on steam trains to work in South Africa’s mines. Today it has a painful irony as migrants find themselves no longer welcome in post-apartheid South Africa.

A recent spate of violent attacks led to an anti-xenophobia protest on 9 March. About 200 locals and foreigners, under the banner of the Coalition of Civics against Xenophobia, took to the streets of Pretoria calling for an end to the violence against foreign-born Africans and South Asians in South Africa’s townships and inner cities.…  Seguir leyendo »

White Schools vs. Black Hair in Post-Apartheid South Africa

I was too young — barely old enough to have had a full head of hair for two years — to remember the African National Congress’s 1994 election campaign poster depicting a smiling, grandfatherly Nelson Mandela, surrounded by a group of children of all races. This picture of Tata Madiba, South Africans’ term of endearment for Mr. Mandela, was appropriate for the Rainbow Nation he was hoping to preside over. The mastermind behind the election effort was the Clinton presidential campaign consultant Stan Greenberg, who advised the A.N.C. to abandon its image as a liberation movement and adopt a new role as “change agents.”…  Seguir leyendo »