Maryland Senator Ben Cardin joins us to talk about the youth movement against gun violence, Russian sanctions, and more. D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh shares her thoughts on relief for high water bills and news that D.C. Public Schools is taking over an all girls charter school.
Pro-democracy activists are toppling authoritarian regimes in Northern Africa. But Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe is moving to punish is opposition once again, could be moving in the other direction. We chat with the curators of new collection of narratives about life in Zimbabwe, from parents to farmers to former policemen and soldiers.
- Annie Holmes Editor, "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives" (McSweeney's, 2011); Documentary Filmmaker and Writer
- Peter Orner Editor,"Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives" (McSweeney's, 2011); Professor, San Francisco State University
- Joseph Chikowero Associate Editor, "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives" (McSweeney's, 2011); Writer; Phd. Candidate, University of Wisconsin
MR. KOJO NNAMDIChange is sweeping across Northern Africa and the Middle East where people are rising up against authoritarian regimes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe would seem to be a place that's ripe for a similar rebellion, but it could be very well moving in the other direction. President Robert Mugabe, who has crushed his opposition and stifled dissent in that country for decades, is once again moving to protect his power. Last month, 45 Zimbabweans were arrested for simply attending a viewing and discussion about the protest taking place in Egypt and Tunisia.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThis hour, we're taking a moment to look at life inside Zimbabwe by considering the oral histories of its people. And we're contemplating whether the political changes taking roots elsewhere in Africa, have the potential to ignite a spark on their side of the continent. Joining us in our Washington studio is Annie Holmes, documentary filmmaker and writer who was raised in Zimbabwe. She is one the editors of the book, "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." It's the fifth volume in the, "Voice of Witness," series that uses oral histories to depict human crisis around the world.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnnie Holmes, thank you for joining us.
MS. ANNIE HOLMESThanks very much for having us, Kojo. It's great to be here.
NNAMDIJoining us from studios in Iowa City, Iowa, is Peter Orner, one of the editors of, "Hope Deferred: Natives of Zimbabwean -- Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." He's an author and a professor at San Francisco State University. He's currently a visiting professor at the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. Peter Orner, thank you for joining us.
MR. PETER ORNERThank you. Thank you very much.
NNAMDIThese are historic times for many African countries. Long standing regimes in Egypt and Tunisia have been toppled. A full scale rebellion has consumed Libya. But these histories look very different to the people who live inside those countries than to those of us standing on the outside observing them. You've put together a collection of narratives that captures history by ordinary people in Zimbabwe. Why did you find this exercise was necessary? First you, Annie?
HOLMESWell, speaking as a Zimbabwean, Kojo, living in the U.S., this seem to me an extraordinary opportunity to -- using the platform of a very popular publisher in the U.S. to have ordinary Zimbabweans talk about their lives at some length, we do long interviews. We get a sense of someone's whole life. We don't reduce people to three lines of a case study or argument for a certain position or other. So for me, it was a great chance to open the door for Americans to hear directly from Zimbabweans some of the nuances in depth about our situation rather than a very simplistic line about it.
NNAMDIPeter, for you, was it the same as an author? You were looking for a more long form understanding of the lives of Zimbabweans, the kind of things that we can't put together in a two or three minute radio or television report?
ORNERExactly. I think, you know, when you look at countries like Zimbabwe, there can be a very generalized perception of what's happening there. A great deal of horror, a lot of brutality, state sponsored violence. And yet, which is all true about Zimbabwe, but it's -- Zimbabwe's extremely unique country and having been there now four times, I felt that it was very important, like Annie said, to delve deeper and make a larger presentation for an American and international audience.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments about Zimbabwe in general or, "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives," in particular, call us at 800-433-8850. Send e-mail to email@example.com or tweet at kojoshow or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join this conversation there. Before we get into what these oral histories reveal to you about life inside Zimbabwe, how did you go about collecting them and with whom did you speak, Annie?
HOLMESI think, in general, we could say we used what we call, chains of trust. I think there's a lot of anxiety about speaking very openly. So you wouldn't walk up cold to people and just say, tell us your life. So obviously as a Zimbabwean and working with many other Zimbabweans, I have lots of connections. We also work through organizations like, Lawyers for Human Rights, and so on, to identify what we hope is a really big range -- wide range of kinds of voices from university professors to a security guard, a child, many different people.
NNAMDIPeter Orner, you mentioned going to Zimbabwe on four occasions. What is it like trying to do this kind of work inside Zimbabwe for you who are not Zimbabwean?
ORNERWell, with Annie's help, I was able to do it. And I think what's important for people to understand about our book, is that we talked -- there's a great deal of Zimbabweans, as you know, outside of the country. Many people have had to leave, in the millions. The numbers are -- the statistics are unclear. So we talk to a lot of people in the large Zimbabwean Diaspora, in South Africa, as well as in the U.K. and Canada and in the U.S. And we also, as I said, we took trips inside the country and spoke to people directly, living in Zimbabwe.
ORNERAnd, you know, obviously it was easier to do it outside of the country but, you know inside the country, as Annie said, that trust that we were able to develop allowed people to speak relatively openly, even in a situation where, you know, there was a great deal of danger in speaking out.
NNAMDIThis is a country with a very long and complicated history, a history that, Annie, you witnessed growing up there. You write with Peter in the introduction that the collection of stories you compiled examines Zimbabwe's recent history through the window of expectation that came three years ago, when an election threatened Robert Mugabe's power. Why did you decide to make that moment the center around which to build this collection?
HOLMESThere are a number of reasons. I think -- it was an extraordinary moment. We'd had eight or nine years of really quite desperate economic downturn and growing political problems, including a series of elections with a lot of violence. But in the months leading up to early 2008 election, there was much less political violence. And people were becoming quite hopeful about change through the ballot box. The opposition took photographs outside the polling booths of the results. And so doing the math, it was looking very hopeful. It was a great moment of hope. But the results were held onto and not released for a very long time.
HOLMESAnd they called a runoff between the two Presidential elections and that was the moment when an extraordinary amount of violence was unleashed. So it was really a turning point, but it was also that question of hope that gave us that moment to focus in on rather than a long series of decline.
NNAMDIAnd for people who may not be familiar with the specifics of what we're talking about, in that election, we were talking about the party of President Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF against Morgan Tsvangirai...
NNAMDI...Tsvangiriai's movement for democratic change and it seemed as if the movement for democratic change would be winning that election before the violence was unleashed. What we have in Zimbabwe now is theoretically a coalition government in which the movement for democratic change is involved.
NNAMDIAgain, you can call us at 800-433-8850. Let me go to Mustafa in Bethesda, Md. Mustafa, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MUSTAFAThank you, Kojo, it's a great show. I just wanted to make a comment, which is a fairly general comment, I would say, as to the reason why some of the revolution that is taking place North Africa has not quite translated to sub-Saharan countries. I am originally from Senegal, which is in West Africa. And I think there's a cultural component to that. And it goes all the way back to the, I guess, the Sinai dependence where I was -- many North African countries have had to fight for it, literally, on the street.
MUSTAFAAlgeria being a prime example. Whereas Sub-Saharan countries, they've tended obtain that independence to, I would say, political compromise (unintelligible) so on and so forth. The one final example I can give you is Senegal, for example, it is a country which is run by President Wade and who is for all intensive purposes, a dictator because the country's effectively run by his son, Karim Wade. That was my comment, thank you.
NNAMDIThank you very much, I'll get back to the book, "Hope Deferred," in a second. But since he brought this issue up right now, allow me to go there Annie and Peter. Last month, as we mentioned earlier, 45 Zimbabweans were arrested for simply attending a discussion about the meaning of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. One government official said, in February, "The Situation in Egypt will never be tolerated anywhere in Zimbabwe." How do the situations in the countries where governments have been toppled, compare to what's going on in Zimbabwe in your eyes.
NNAMDII can tell you that in the conversations that I had which Thomas Mapfumo and an earlier conversation with dancer and choreographer Nora Chipaumire, they both stated that they feel that people in Zimbabwe are struggling for survival and that's the reason why it's difficult. And it says in describing this book, "Men and women simply trying to survive as a once thriving nation heads for collapse." Is that one of the reasons that we're not seeing this in a place like Zimbabwe right now? This time, Peter, I'll start with you.
ORNERSure, this -- it's a fascinating question. And I think a relevant one given what's going on in the ground in Zimbabwe. But I think in contextually, I think, it's important, first of all, I think just to build a little bitter or contrast a little bit what the caller said. You know, Zimbabwe, as you mentioned, has been an independent country for 31 years. Preceding that was an extremely violent liberation struggle to unseat the White Rhodesian Government. So my own experience in Zimbabwe has been this, that Zimbabweans, to my mind, are among the most politically sophisticated people that I've encountered anywhere.
ORNERIt isn't as if the people aren't aware of their rights and aware of the fact that they're living in a brutal dictatorship. But the fact is that, in Zimbabwe, people have been fighting every day for the past decade and more against this government, using whatever means that they've been able to use. And I think the final point and I know Annie has thoughts on this as well, is that to my mind, when a government is willing to shoot, as in shall we see in China, we see in Burma, we see Mugabe is willing to foster state sponsored murder, state sponsored rape.
ORNERWe've documented all of this in the book. That is a very difficult environment in which to, you know, suddenly you turn a switch and you're going to have, you know, what happened in Egypt. Egypt didn't happen in two weeks. It seemed to -- that way to us on TV, but that isn't what happened. People are on the ground in Zimbabwe every day building a coalition that will eventually, you know, change the situation there.
NNAMDII'll ask Annie to hold her thought for a while because also listening to this conversation is another Zimbabwean, Joseph Chikowero, an associate editor of, "Hope Deferred." He grew up in Zimbabwe. He's currently writing a novel about that experience. He's pursuing a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and joins us from studios in Madison, WI. Joseph Chikowero, thank you for joining us.
MR. JOSEPH CHIKOWEROThank you very much, Kojo. For a second there, I thought you had maybe thought that I wasn't here, but thank you.
NNAMDINo, I wanted to bring you in at an appropriate moment and I think this is a good one. How do you feel that the situation in the countries where governments have been toppled, Tunisia, Egypt and what's going on in Libya compared to what's going on in Zimbabwe in your eyes? Why is it not happening, in your view, in Zimbabwe?
CHIKOWEROThank you, Kojo. Like what Peter said earlier, you know, Zimbabweans have a very strong history of actually fighting for their rights. You know, there was a 13 year struggle against colonial rule, right. So it's not entirely true that we are a peace-loving lot and we can't fight for our rights, per se. But you have to put this into context, you know, when you look at the 2008 elections, that almost unseated Mugabe, right. You have to remember that Mugabe actually used to the power of incumbency to, you know, unleash violence on the poor people, right.
CHIKOWEROAnd then, you know, that same thing happened in the year 2008 again, right. But it is sometime -- it's not as if people have entirely lost or -- but they are still fighting. They are still forming coalitions and there's a very real critical mass that is capable of, you know, of rising up in the more or less the same way that we've seen in North Africa.
NNAMDIAllow me to go to the telephones unless Annie is ready to add her comment at this point. Okay, let's go to Suma in Baltimore, Md. Suma, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SUMAYes, Kojo. And I want to take it on two points of view. One, give an example of the Zimbabwe situation in which they fought for independence and, two, bring in the Cameroonian situation when they didn't fight for independence but they still cannot rise up and fight against the current dictatorial leadership that they have. With respect to the Zimbabwe situation, we have to remember that Mugabe was idolized because he fought against colonialism and the colonialism...
NNAMDIAnd I'm one of the people who idolized him.
NNAMDIAnd I am one of the people who idolized him.
SUMAExactly. So he was rather liked at that moment and so much so that there was conflicts and then there were little or no strong opposition against him. And that gave him an opportunity to have a grip on the entire nation and be able to have the machinery, including the military, to be able to unleash first on them when they need him for them to request for a change. With respect to the Cameroon situation, the -- what you have to remember is the Francophone Africans, they are so -- they have a strong allegiance to France, to such an extent that they are still -- and they are the happiest colonial mentality that prevail among francophone Africans.
SUMAAnd Cameroon is even worse, to the extent that, that it is a strong division between the francophone Cameroonians and the Anglophone Cameroonians. So that the francophone Cameroonians did think that it is (word?) anglophone Cameroonians. And the people in the anglophone Cameroonians are suppressed to the extent that they no (word?) development. In fact the development that they had established prior to them being (word?) having independence or full control of their own situation has now been destroyed by the francophone Cameroonians.
NNAMDIWell, Suma, you serve to remind us that the adage, all politics is local applies in this situation. Also that even though what we're seeing spreading across the Middle East and North Africa seems to have been initiated by an incident in Tunisia, that in the final analysis, the resolution of all of these issues have to do with what's going on in specific countries which allows me to get back to Zimbabwe and to you Annie Holmes because you heard earlier when we spoke with Thomas Mapfumo last week, one of the people you spoke with for, "Hope Deferred," named Zinzali (sp?) , is a former police officer who was an eyewitness to Robert Mugabe's campaign to build power in the '80s. What was Zinzali's story?
HOLMESZinzali was a policeman in Zimbabwe, son of a policeman. He was very -- he experienced what was happening in the south of country and I think that's an interesting point for -- to understand about the history after independence since 1980.
NNAMDIWhat was going in Matabeleland?
HOLMESIn Matabeleland, the south of the country and largely associated with the second liberation movement ZAPU, so from about '83...
NNAMDIWhich was lead by the late Joshua Nkomo.
HOLMESJoshua Nkomo, exactly. So in the south of the country, there was a lot of repression between that time, 1983 to 1987, you could characterize it as a secret kind of civil war within the country which was -- and which lead to an earlier instance of national unity, but national unity at such a cost. So, I think, Zimbabweans tend to be very skeptical about this idea of national unity and the cost that involved there.
NNAMDIBack to Zinzali, a 46-year-old former police officer and he is an Ndebele?
HOLMESHe's an Ndebele, that's right. And so he had to face this contradiction with a -- the national military where called upon to be involved in acts of great cruelty and violence against citizens of the country. And at a certain point, he was not prepared to take that any longer.
NNAMDIIndeed, Joseph Chikowero, many people in different parts of Zimbabwe still do not speak about what's known as the Gukurahundi campaign. Can you tell us a little bit about exactly what that was and what unfolded there?
CHIKOWERORight. When you talk about the Gukurahundi, that's a Shona way -- I mean, basically, you know, you're faced with the, you know, the first rains that washes away the chaff, you know. So this word was used by Mugabe ZANU-PF party to refer to this exercise by which they are trying to, you know, to crush the opposition in the southern and western parts of the country where, you know, mostly Ndebele and Kalanga people live.
CHIKOWEROSo this was between 1981 and, you know, up to around 1986. So in 1987, there was like a unity accord between Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the leader of, you know, ZAPU. So that was like the end of, I mean, of that thing. But the, you know, major point is -- is that, you know, Mugabe has never, you know, accepted, you know, blame for the, you know, nearly 20,000 honored people who were actually killed, you see. So this is still a festering wound, you know, in this -- in this part of the country.
NNAMDIAnd because it's a festering wound, Annie Holmes, how did you go about getting people to open up to talk about that, because in a climate of fear, a festering wound is often simply covered up.
HOLMESYes. I think we used all kinds of different connections, which I'm rightly not going to go into right now.
NNAMDIYou can't revel, yes.
NNAMDIIn order to get to people to talk about those things.
HOLMESTo talk about that. But I think what's interesting for me as I'm much older than Joseph, so I lived through all of this. I think Joseph in a born free -- what we call a born free, right Joseph?
HOLMESAlmost. So I remember the '80s very well, and we were in the same situation that you were describing, Kojo, of being extremely enthusiastic. The '80s were this wonderful period. We were all in -- I was in my 20's. It was so thrilling.
NNAMDIZimbabwe was the bread basket.
HOLMESZimbabwe was the bread basket of Africa. We had Bob Marley come and sing at our independence. It was just a very glorious time, and it was in many ways a great many positive developments happened in the country in terms of education, in terms of health. So it's always quite complicated, because it wasn't all terrible or all wonderful. But we were hearing things.
HOLMESWe were hearing things from workshops in rural areas, in Bulawayo where people would say we have to sleep in the bush every night, and the Fifth Brigade, which was the Army unit of the devil, you know. So those -- this is all the question that Thomas raised about fooling people some of the time, but we won't be fooled again. We have to keep that part of -- that's important in reviewing your history, which is what these stories give us the chance to do.
NNAMDIIn order to understand the rule of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. We've got to take a short break. When we come back we will continue this conversation about "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." If you called, stay on the line. We'll try our best to get to your call, but you could also send us e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or make a comment, ask a question, at our website, kojoshow.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about Zimbabwe. We're talking with Annie Holmes. She's a documentary filmmaker and writer who was raised in Zimbabwe. One of the editors of "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." Peter Orner is another editor of "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." He's an author and a professor at San Francisco State University. He's currently a visiting professor at the writer's workshop at the University of Iowa. And Joseph Chikowero is an associate editor of "Hope Deferred." He grew up in Zimbabwe. He's currently writing a novel about that experience and pursuing a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin. He joins us from studios in Madison, WI.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones again. Here is Gene in Annapolis, Md. Gene, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
GENEHi. I wanted to bring this a little closer to American context of time. I was a student in 1966, '67 at the London School of Economics in London, which had its equivalent of Berkeley, California, happening in England. The cause started originally because of the concern over the appointment of a new director for the school who was a headmaster of a school in Rhodesia. And in the context of American history of the '60s and Martin Luther King, which to some of us seems like yesterday, and some of your speakers have talked about it. You know, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and -- goes back to Rhodesia, which Americans really don't know about.
GENEAnd it was a brutal white-ruled regime. And I guess my comment would be why did people not realize that -- to quote the old phrase, power corrupts and absolute -- power corrupts absolutely?
NNAMDIWell, you're about the -- go ahead.
GENEDid the people realize that about what they were getting into with a single party -- a single-person rule during the '80s and '90s, and did they realize what they were getting into then or was it not realized?
NNAMDIGene, I'm glad you gave me a bit of your history, and talked a little about the minority white regime of Ian Smith in Rhodesia, something that Annie Holmes knows a little bit about. And there are people who say there is a really bizarre reflection of that regime in what we see in Zimbabwe today.
HOLMESWell, I think there are certain elements of the legislation that have been retained, such as the emergency powers that Mugabe has used. I think there's also the -- the whole question of land is hugely problematic, and has fueled a lot of what's been happening all these past 30 years. I think at independence there was an agreement that held the new government back from making certain changes for a while so that land distribution has been problematic all this time. And that's part of the argument behind what's been happening the last 10 years.
NNAMDII want to get to the issue of land with Joseph in a second. But before we do that, Peter, I'm glad that our last caller, Gene, mentioned a bit of his history, because our listeners should know that you are a novelist. You've written a novel about Namibia, Zimbabwe's neighbor to the south and west. The novel is called, "The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo." That novel was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. How did you get involved in this "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives" project?
ORNERWell, I -- I did a previous book of oral histories called "Underground America," which collected stories of undocumented people living all across the U.S. from all corners of the globe. So I got interested in oral history. I bridged the gap between writing fiction to doing these interviews. And, you know, I'm -- I have no training in this, I just listen to people. And I got together with Annie Holmes, who's a writer from Zimbabwe living in the U.S., and we decided that -- that there would be a great opportunity here to do a book about Zimbabwe.
ORNERI'd been -- visited Zimbabwe when I was living in Namibia in the early '90s, and I absolutely fell in love with the country. It was beautiful, and Zimbabwean writers in particular are very important to me. Writers like Charles Mungoshi, and (word?) . It's an incredibly rich literary culture in Zimbabwe that is limping along today. So that was how -- pretty much how I got into it. I'd like to -- the caller said something about Mugabe, you know, why didn't people realize.
ORNERAnd I think as Joseph referred, people did realize. Maybe not internationally, but certainly inside the country, people were starting to realize what was going on, and many of the stories in the book refer back to Matabeleland because that was the first time that people realized, oh, this is going to be, you know, a pretty barbaric situation. And even as early as 1983 people knew that they were going to pull out all the stops and do anything to hold on to absolute power.
NNAMDIAnd that situation in some respects remains unchanged. But back to the issue of land, Joseph Chikowero, you grew up in Harare, where you interviewed a woman for this collection named Tse Tse, a former commercial farmer -- black farmer, who's now a union organizer. Could you read some of that story for us today?
CHIKOWEROMm-hmm. Just to clarify one thing...
CHIKOWERO...I was only partly raised in, you know, in the city. I was actually born in the rural area. It is, you know, these are the kinds of places where ordinary black families were, you know, forced to live by the (word?) regime. Right. As for the land reform itself, you know, the -- I mean (unintelligible) issue. One is to realize that Rhodesia was a settler colony, which meant that a very tiny white minority had access to most of the good land.
CHIKOWEROSo with the coming of Mugabe in 1980, you know, one of the reasons for the war was to actually address the land issue. Right. So many -- I mean, the black farmers actually thought that they would now have access to some of the land that was, you know, in white hands. And this lady that I had an opportunity to interview, you know, we called her Tse Tse, right. She's one of, you know, these, I mean, black people who thought that they would have an opportunity to actually farm on a commercial scale, right, in the post-independence era. If you go to page 176 of our, you know, book...
NNAMDIYeah. I got it in front of me.
CHIKOWERORight. You know, she -- she, you know, buys, you know, she's actually leasing this plot of land from a white farmer, right. But then, you know, ZANU-PF doesn't even want her to hold onto that land. If you go to the second paragraph...
NNAMDII tried to appeal through ZANU-PF strikers...
CHIKOWEROMm-hmm, right. It says blacks were supposed to benefit from this land in Matabeleland,. That's what I heard. I thought I was black enough. All I needed was to make a claim and I would keep this piece of land, you know. So this is someone...
CHIKOWERO...who, you know, thought that, you know, being -- coming from a formal oppressed, you know, group, she would actually be able to finally gain access to this land. But this was never to be so. This is part of the corruption that, you know, that Mapfumo was alluding to earlier on.
NNAMDIBecause, Joseph, we got the impression over here that the only people who suffered as a result of this land distribution were extremely wealthy white farmers. The notion that somebody like Tse Tse happened to lose land in this is a story that we have not heard here.
CHIKOWERORight. I mean, the truth of the matter is that, I mean, one of the stories that is, I mean, that, you know, that we should highlight here, is that the whole land reform exercise, you know, has been tainted by the fact that some of the, you know, most of the good land is actually gone to the friends and, you know, cronies of those who are in power, right. Why are the, you know, maybe a hardworking black farmer like, you know, Tse Tse here, could not gain access at all.
NNAMDIAnnie Holmes, this must have been very frustrating for you living in the United States when the outside observers miscalculate maybe that this land redistribution had everything to do with race, and nothing to do at all with cronyism.
HOLMESI think it's one of the reasons that the issue on the whole story of the country is so complicated. Because race is, of course, still huge, and still important, and making real sustained changes to the kinds of land distribution, and the kinds of inequalities in the country is really an important agenda. So I think one of the things I'm really glad about in the book is that we have the chance to give many different points of view, like Tse Tse's point of view.
HOLMESBut also we have quite an -- I think an extremely interesting story of a white farmer, who is -- we call him George in the book, because almost all the names are false names in the book to protect people.
HOLMESSo George's story is a very interesting take as someone who admits to being a wild Rhodesian farmer, and who I think his trajectory -- his story is really interesting about how -- what happens when his family loses the land, his brother is attacked and he is now working as a farm manager for a black farmer. It's an interesting turn around, and he has a very -- he's very open and very self-questioning in a way. So it makes it an extraordinary angle on that piece of history.
NNAMDIJust one of the stories you can read in the book "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." Here is Kevin in Upper Marlboro, Md. Kevin, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
KEVINOh, hello, Kojo. Thank you again for a great discussion. Well, my story is, my father was a businessman in southern Africa in the '80s, and I had the privilege of traveling to Harare when I was boy. I think I was 1988. I had to be like five years old. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful capitals I've seen. And it was the first time I'd ever seen a skyscraper. I was so surprised by the amount of wealth that I saw, and how clean and beautiful the city was.
KEVINAt that time we flew on Zimbabwe Airlines. I'm not sure if it's still around, but it seemed during that era there was a tremendous sense of optimism in Africa, that we could chart our own destiny and, you know, build our own infrastructure. And, you know, watching the news programs it's kind of sad to see now that a lot of people are in a worse situation now in terms of poverty and lack of rights, than they were in the '80s and even during my father's generation.
KEVINMy one question is, I traveled to Botswana, and I want your guests, if they know anything, to tell maybe the contrast difference between the political system in Botswana, and the political system in other places in Africa like Zimbabwe, where Botswana's had some smooth transitions, and why maybe Zimbabwe, Mugabe will not release power.
NNAMDIWe only have about a minute or so left. Care to deal with that, Annie Holmes?
HOLMESA Botswana friend of mine once said, it's lucky we only discovered the diamonds after the British left. So I think that -- but that's not to downplay the achievements of the Botswana government who have always spoken out against the abuses of the ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe.
NNAMDIJoseph Chikowero, we only have about a minute left. Talk a little bit about what your hope is for Zimbabwe's future. The same question we posted to Thomas Mapfumo.
CHIKOWEROAs a young black Zimbabwean, I would like to see all the talent that has been scattered, I mean, all over the world in the past 10 or so years, you know, realize their dreams, you know, and be able to go back home and, I mean, and develop their country. Thank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIThat's exactly the sentiment that was expressed to me by Nora Chipaumire and Thomas Mapfumo. Joseph Chikowero, thank you so much for joining us. Joseph is an associate editor of "Hope Deferred." Peter Orner, thank you for joining us.
ORNERThank you so much, Kojo.
NNAMDIPeter is one of the editors of "Hope Deferred." Annie Holmes, thank you for dropping by the studio in person.
HOLMESGreat to meet you.
NNAMDIAnnie Holmes is a documentary filmmaker and writer. She was raised in Zimbabwe, one of the editors of "Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives." And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
Facing Calls For Dismissal, Prince George’s Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell Attends To Crisis Of Confidence
An investigation into Prince George's County Public Schools last fall found inflated graduation rates, too many excused absences and overly lax grading. How will the county fix its school's problems?
We check in with D.C.'s police chief to discuss his first year of policing the nation's capital.
80 degree days, windstorms, floods, droughts and bomb cyclones. We're all coping with a changing climate, but what happens when your livelihood depends on the weather?