The reality of being a loose radical in Zimbabwe | Part 1

 

by Dirk Frey

I have always been an outsider in one sense or another. I have never easily fit into the convenient boxes we are squeezed into. I straddle several, truly fit into none, and buck labels and easy preconceptions.

What am I talking about? Identity.

If you see me without talking to me, especially if your skin isn’t like mine, your first impression – “There goes a white guy” – is correct, but is nowhere near the full story. I am a white Zimbabwean, yes, but my parents aren’t from here. In fact, they aren’t from the same place themselves and don’t speak the same language. English is actually the third language I learned as a child, and when you talk to me you’ll hear that I don’t sound like you’d expect a white Zimbabwean to sound.

This reality of being a loose radical, socially, gave me a unique insight, by virtue of the situations I found myself in. I interacted with an saw the coloured community from a lot close than most whites do, I found myself in mixed company and the standard assumptions we make about ourselves and each other, I discovered, are social constructs that aren’t always accurate, and often simplistic generalizations.


And one thing I learned at school: The white community, like all other Zimbabwean communities, have an element of exclusivity. So because I didn’t talk like them, walk like them, act like them, I was an outsider… which suited me fine – my friends at school tended to be anything but white. I didn’t feel any urge to overcome the barriers to integrating with the white kids at school, and by associating with others even more ‘other’ than I, I added a layer of suspicion from them. And I didn’t fit in with the transient expatriate white community either. My family settled here, we weren’t going to move on after a few years, and our connection to Zimbabwe ended up being far stronger than to my parents’ countries of origin.

 

In fact, I only ever holidayed there. It was never home. The one time I spent any length of time in Europe as a child, the children there called me the ‘African Ape’.  It’s something that amuses me now, but it wasn’t fun at the time, and I couldn’t wait to return home. Today, I understand that part of our identity is a social construct – in that time and place, I had more in common with any other non-white African who finds themselves an immigrant in Europe than those I look like on the surface.

Yes, there are the obvious physical aspects of identity that are a given. I cannot change the colour of my skin or the fact I’m male (barring extensive surgery), where I was born, who I was born to. But there is far more to identity than that, much of which is determined by the society I grew up in. Then, finally, there is a small part that might be the most important: what I chose to do with it. And this is by far the most precious part of my identity, perhaps because I’ve had to fight to defend it: I am African. That is not a given. There are people with a similar background to mine that don’t feel themselves as strongly African, or at all. There are white people whose families have been here far longer than mine, yet when I asked them where they are from, they’ll talk about Wales, Scotland, Ireland etc.

After a lifetime of being ‘other’, I can understand and empathize with fellow Zimbabweans who aren’t viewed as ‘fully Zimbabwean’ because the language they speak came from South Africa. Let us be clear – the majority of Zimbabweans in the southwest have totems, and there weren’t so many who came with Mzilikazi to begin with – so the construct of them as ‘less Zimbabwean’ isn’t anywhere close to accurate.

In this way, and others, I’ve come to understand on a very personal level the dysfunctional nature of identity in Zimbabwe. The artificial, politically expedient story of the realest Zimbabwean being a black man who speaks Shona and votes Zanu is a problem. The concept of a ‘shona person’ didn’t exist before colonial times. And the colonial divide-and-rule story of Zimbabwe being split into two ethnic groups is just as artificial. Zimbabweans are not split into two monolithic blocks. Those whose ancestors adopted Mzilikazi and his Impi’s language along with their protection were and still are related, and sometimes very closely, to the people today considered as ‘Shona’.

Besides that, there is a rich variety of peoples with distinct languages and culture, and we as a people are waking up to that and seeking to embrace and protect that heritage of diversity. Yet the old colonial and Cold War ideas are still with us and do damage. And we as a nation are at a pivotal point in our history. We no longer believe the old lies, but we have yet to fully explore and settle a very important question – what does it mean to be Zimbabwean?

To be continued

The Best Of 5 : Zimbabwean Presidential Candidates

 

By Simba The Comic King

Every five years or so, we have a comedy show we call “Presidential Elections.” We desperately try to bulls**t ourselves into thinking the reigning champion Robert Mugabe is all of a sudden going to say the sacred words, “I think it’s high time I quit.” There’s a better chance of Jesus coming back in a Lamborghini before that happens but it’s ok to dream, even Joseph was a dreamer and he got thrown into a pit for it. As our comedy show…sorry I mean elections are right round the corner we take a look back at some of the men who have had the nerve to run against ZANU PF’s immortal sole candidate…

Morgan Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change)

A man whose tombstone should read, “Here lies a man who won but lost at the same damn time, life’s a b***h.” Morgan has been beaten so many times both literally and figuratively you’d think the soundtrack to his life is, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. Morgan is the only dude in history to defy the ZANU PF odds. Tsvangirai first ran in presidential elections in 2002, an election which he obviously lost. He then contested again in 2008 and this time actually won by a 47.9% margin against Mugabe’s 43.2% but of course ZANU insisted that no candidate had the necessary 50% plus one vote to be declared the winner because they are sore losers like that. A run off was announced and initially Morgan was set to contest once more with the condition that international observers would be called in to do what they do best: international observing of course. Tsvangirai eventually withdrew from the run off fearing that his supporters may “get more than their a**es whooped” for voting for him. Not that he said it in those words exactly but that was the implication. Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara met with Mugabe for the first time in over a decade on the 22nd of July 2008 to broker a power sharing agreement which came to be famously known as the “Government of We Won The Elections Douchebags…But We’ll Take Whatever You’ll Give Us” or simply, Government of National Unity.

Mark Baard (Zimbabwe Republican Front)

Zimbabwe’s first ever aspiring white presidential candidate, Marky of the Zimbabwe Republican Front (ZPF) is like the reverse of Obama. We say aspiring because unfortunately he never officially ran. He simply threatened to run. To be fair though, out of the five delusional beings who submitted their names to run for presidency in 2013, his was never considered. If you look at it being a white presidential candidate comes with a lot of hustles, for starters even if he did win the elections, motherf***in’ ZANU would nevertheless take 51% of his votes and he’d have a tough time attending rallies as his jurisdiction is Borrowdale.

Kisinoti  Mukwazhe (Zimbabwe Development Party)

Now this dude’s last name should have been “My A**” but alas life isn’t a place where you could everything you want. Kisinoti Mukwazhe is the leader of Zimbabwe Development Party and just like Mark, almost ran for the 2013 general elections but withdrew cause his party was broke as f**k.  At the time Mukwazhe claimed his party had 780 000 supporters. If my primary school mathematics calculations serve me well, this nigga could have made 780k simply by asking all his supporters to part with a buck each. Mukwazhe’s sad story begins when he filed an application for funding at the Constitutional Court. The application was dismissed citing that it would be grossly “irresponsible and dangerous for government if all political parties were to be funded.” The judge might as well have raised his middle finger while he was at it. Mukwazhe eventually settled for rallying behind Mugabe instead, the leader of the same government that threw out his application, geez, talk about f**ked up priorities.

Simba Makoni (National Alliance for Democracy)

Apart from being the Lion King’s namesake, Simba’s other claim to fame is running in the 2008 presidential elections as the frontman of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn which only became a formal political party on the 22nd of July 2008 and was renamed National Alliance for Democracy. Makoni who is a former ZANU PF member originally wanted to contest as a ZANU candidate but hey, it’s a one man show nigga. Simba was Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister from 2000 but was kicked out and got his a** replaced by Herbert Murerwa simply cause he had enough common sense to support the devaluation of the Zimbabwean Dollar, which Mugabe obviously did not like, no rocket science whatsoever.

Welshman Ncube (Movement for democratic Change without the”T”)

Try and imagine a team member of Voltron, the guy who pilots the red lion gets tired of the other guy who pilots the lion that’s kinda red and therefore decides to unform Voltron rendering him a D**k Of The Universe. That’s exactly what happened when Welshman Ncube and Morgan Tsvangirai broke up and split MDC in two. Tsvangirai would go on to lead MDC-T and Welshman went on to lead MDC supposedly because MDC-W would be the uncooolest name ever for a party. Welshman ran in the 2013 elections and came third after Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Now that you know about past presidential delusionists, please do go register to vote, next year might just be the year gaddhemeti.

Open letter to President Mugabe from Linda Masarira

 

Dear President Mugabe

I write this letter to you at a time when my whole body is in pain after being mercilessly brutalized by riot police on the 25th of February 2017.

The reason for my brutality was for having chosen to break the silence on the unhealthy state of our healthcare facilities in the country. Yet as a responsible citizen I have the right to call you and all other elected leaders to book and demand accountability. My message and that of the rest of the population is plain and simple. We only demand good governance, we demand employment, we demand sound policies that guarantee opportunities for everyone regardless of political affiliations, we demand to be free. We desire to be able to express ourselves and not be in hospitals afterwards.

Most importantly we want a President who can be awake long enough to be able to hear our grievances and address them. I write to you Mr President in the hope that as someone who once fought for freedom (or claim) to have done so, you will understand that my cause and that of other activists is justified and that we will not be broken down or cowed but we’re determined to continue in the struggle for a better and real democratic society, in which no one will be beaten up, arrested or killed for holding divergent views. If I may ask, do you think you truly liberated the people yet they remain in fear and you terrorize those of us who can’t fold hands as you and your regime reverse every gain of the liberation struggle and now force us to embark on another revolution? Don’t you ever think that your use of force has made you to appear more like Ian Smith?

Do you think your stranglehold on power is beneficial to us when all the youths have turned to drugs and stress now kills more than any other disease? VaMugabe taneta ini hangu ndanzwa mandinyanyira. Please give me a break from your repression machinery that constantly endangers and threatens my life. I have the right to be free from torture and abuse, freedom of expression and right to life. For if there’s one thing that is certain as the rising of the sun is that I will as a young woman continue to rise in protest against an unjust colonial system colored black. I will remain resolute in fighting for a better Zimbabwe for my children and I’m encouraged by the more young people who are taking up the fight. And even if I’m killed by your Gestapo just know my bones will rise and fight again. Lastly President Mugabe if you are tired just let go of power it’s bad for you to stand in the path of progress simply because you formed ZANU PF if that’s the case we will bury you with it.

Zimbabwe is the land of my forefathers and no-one including you whether war veteran or not, can or should stop me from exercising my constitutional rights.

Wake up President

Yours in tears

Linda Tsungirirai Masarira

3 Whatsapp alternatives to enhance your digital security ahead of 2018 elections

 

By Munya Bloggo

In July last 2016 government shutdown the internet for 4 hours as citizens protested against the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire. It was  a new experience to most Zimbabweans  but across Africa it had become the norm during times of political arrest, like Egypt shutting down the internet during the Arab Spring. Stifling access to internet can take many forms but the most popular methods are:

• complete internet shutdown
• blocking of popular applications like Twitter, Facebook & whatsapp
• Throttle the internet (make the internet super slow)

 

I have already covered serving an internet shutdown occurs in an earlier blog post. In this post I cover 3 WhatsApp alternatives.  Whatsapp is the biggest OTT application in Zimbabwe. Most people access the internet for the first time through Whatsapp. Hence those guys along Harare’s First street corners with signs that say”Tinoisa whatsapp pamaphone!” (We install whatsapp on phones). Facebook doesn’t even come close, this is whatsapp country.  A lot of Zimbabweans depend on it for business, activism, entertainment and for connecting with loved ones. While whatsapp is very cheap, and has end to end encryption its not the only fish in the sea. Being 100% dependent on whatsapp may make your data vulnerable to surveillance by big brother and put’s you and me in bit of a pickle in the event that the authorities decide to block its use in the country during highly charged political periods. Here are 3 alternatives you can start using that work as well if not better than whatsapp.

1. Cullian

 

The team behind this application has a strong understanding of the local market. Their application is designed with Africa in mind. They even have an office in Harare, Zimbabwe with a team thats working on engaging with local community – Pamberi! This means if anything happens to your data, if its compromised in any way you can engage them face to face – which is very difficult to do with a company like WhatsApp – Unobvunza and whatsapp yako ikafa? The Cullian application is fairly new to the market but has gained significant traction, clocking 12 000 downloads on the Google play store since January 18 2017. The Cullian team in Harare is still giving away free  Cullian credit with each download to use to make international calls. I know Zimbos like free things and anyone who gives freebies wins the heart of Zimbabweans – just ask ZANU PF. Besides having every feature that whatsapp has, you can also purchase Cullian bundles for yourself or send them as a token to someone directly from the app and not have to worry about Econet, Netone & Telecoms data wars affecting your pocket. Cullian is an encrypted OTT application, allowing users to make secure voice calls to fixed lines and mobile phone numbers at very low rates with very low data usage as well as free app to app (Cullian to Cullian) calls.

 

Cullian Messenger App

 

2. Signal

 

You could say Signal makes the things that make things you don’t want to be seen not to be seen. Basically privacy is a huge deal with this application because the server never has access to any of your communication and never stores any of your data. The application uses an advanced end to end encryption protocol that provides privacy for every message every time. Its also the only private messenger that uses open source peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols to keep your messages safe. Well that means security yavo yakanyanya kunyanya. There are no separate logins, usernames, passwords, or PINs to manage You can create encrypted groups so you can have private conversations with all your friends at once. Also you can send messages that disappear after a specific period. Which makes it a lot more secure for those who would rather not wake up on the front page of H-Metro.

 

Signal essenger App

 

3. Telegram

Telegram pretty much looks and feels like whatsapp as well.  But the cool thing is you can send media and files, without any limits on their type and size. Your entire chat history will require no disk space on your device, and will be securely stored in the Telegram cloud for as long as you need it. In terms of security its encyption has been questioned by various techies but the company insists everything on Telegram, including chats, groups and media is secure and encrypted. What l like most about Telegram is you can create group chats for up to 5,000 members! Imagine that.

 

Telegram Messenger App

 

Let me know if there are any other applications out there you are using in the comments section below.

LIVE VIDEO: Pastor Evan Mawarire granted bail – Lawyer reveals bail conditions

 

by Nyasha Mukapiko 

Pastor Evan Mawarire today was granted US$300 bail at the #Zimbabwe High Court by Judge Phiri. Going through evidence submitted by state, judge Phiri defined the evidence as very weak.
In opposing bail, the state classified Evan Mawarire as celebrated terrorist who was likely to interfere with his bail conditions.
Bail conditions:
*Make a deposit of US$300 bail deposit
*Report twice every week to police
*Surrender passport
*Applicant not to interfere with state witnesses
Check video of Mawarire’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo as he briefs the press.