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Wishful thought and a financial horror
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-13 09:58:53
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Imagine going to the bakery early one the morning to buy three small hot bread rolls. For three euros you get them with butter and a nice cheese that will make them a good breakfast. The smiling baker takes the three euros and wishes you a good morning. The next day you decide to repeat do the same again, only this time you need to take …750,000 euros to pay and who knows if you will have enough for breakfast the day after.

It sounds a like a financial horror story or a stockbroker’s nightmare but one country in this world has this reality because of one man. The creator of this nightmare is Robert Mugabe and the victims are the people of Zimbabwe. Every day these people have to survive one of the worst African dictators ever, in addition to a lack of necessities and HIV-Aids hanging over their heads.

However, when Robert Mugabe is visiting other African countries for meetings he seems that he is welcomed as a hero, so what’s really going on? Mugabe is a dictator, he is personally guilty for the murder of hundreds, for torture, for rape, for stealing; Robert Mugabe is guilty as much as Hitler was guilty but still many people in Africa consider him as a liberator and defender of Africa’s rights. Amazing?

Unfortunately this is true but, as usual, this has to do with what people want to see and not reality, which brings us to the next question. Is the hate towards white people so strong in Africa that it permits a dictator like Mugabe destroy an African nation just because he kicked the white people out of Zimbabwe?

I cannot avoid remembering Idi Amin Dada, another African dictator in the 1970s. At the start of his rule Idi Amin first kicked – and that’s a mild word – out of Uganda the Indians and Pakistanis, then the Jews and finally every white person to end with most of the foreigners except Libyans and Cubans. His first act was to take all their money, houses, businesses and give them to the Ugandan people so suddenly he got the support of the ones who liked to blame others for their mistakes. He presented himself as Robin Hood, the people’s hero. But this only lasted a few months. Then his crimes made him the people’s nemesis. The deaths, the torture, the fear became synonymous with Amin’s Uganda. Just like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

Was Amin Africa’s hero? Oh yes he was, the conqueror of the British Empire! I’m serious, that’s how he called himself. Most likely Mugabe felt jealous and he tries to earn the same title, let’s hope that he will not have the same end as Amin. Idi Amin escaped justice and died peacefully in his apartment in Saudi Arabia comfortable and rich with all he stole from the Ugandan people.

Let’s hope that Mugabe will have to face his victims and die alone behind the very same bars he imprisoned hundreds and thousands of Zimbabwean people. But at the moment this sounds like a wishful thought since the monster is still ruling the country.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-13 11:22:46
Indeed, Mr. Kalamidas, your article has me musing. To be sure, all dictators, on both sides of the political spectrum, are monsters, even when they are dubbed “benevolent.” Derrida used to warn us not to be too eager to name our monsters or they will become our pets. Perhaps “fools” may be a better description. But if truth be said, if we in the West were to be brutally honest with ourselves we would have to acknowledge that “apartheid” is a Dutch word devised by those same ultra-liberal Dutch we so much admire in Europe. Somehow their liberalism vanished when it came to live with people who were different and to respect their unique native culture. To go back to Buruma and Margalit’s analogy of the exoting clothing of Polynesian women (in their book Occidentalism), few remembered in Europe that it was French merchants who originally introduced that sort of clothing in Polynesia. Similarly, few seem to remember that it was European colonialism which introduced some nasty political habits in Africa in the name of cilization, inevitable progress and “the white man’s burden” which turned out to be in retrospect the white man’s shame. Those habits were not there under the tribal system. All those chickens came home to roost in the 20th century with two world wars, the holocaust, the gulags which almost destroyed Western civilization as we know it. Now, these statements may appear as auto-flagellation to those in the West who are nostalgic of the good old days of empire and pomp and circumstances, but in reality they are a modest attempt to drag oneself out of historical amnesia and foment a more respectful attitude toward the simple facts of history.

Anonymous2007-09-13 16:41:51
Well said, Emanuel. As we react to the Zim situation, we almost always want to doubt the source of our observation, then of course, why not point to the heart of the matter. Brave to challenge the Ameri-Euro powers, Mugabe and the country have to suffer for it: simple economics; do sunction ever really punish the perpetrator of Whatever? Who is trying to prove more of a point, the dictator who claims national sovereignity or the humanitarian, fithy "enriched" power that has the ability to turn off the switches of trade and watch, smile humanitarian as inflation is triggered to riduculous proportions? These issues are not as simple as ABC, CNN, o BBC expressing their horror at: " how can they hate whites so much?"

This is not an attempt to exonerate Mugabe; he is an idiot for not playing to the tune that will ensure that the people don't suffer. The countries sanctioning Zimbabwe are very clear about one thing: Play to our tune and you will see positive change. As to the matter of leading to the death of innocent people, all you need is turn on your CNN and see the number of innocent lives (e.g. Iraq, where Mugabe is not president) being lost because of ... what?

Clint2007-09-13 16:51:51
Shame Zimbabwe hasn't got Oil reserves he'd have gone the way of Saddam years ago.

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