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A privileged Zimbabwean life?

Growing up as white and privileged in Zimbabwe I have only ever known an easy and comfortable life. I’ve holidayed on every continent, attended the “finest” schools and have two loving, supportive parents. Yet I constantly feel uncertain and unhappy about the place I live in. I may sound like the typical spoilt, melodramatic teenager, but it goes deeper than that.

I’m one of the few white teenagers in this country who has been exposed to and who has taken notice of real pain, real injustice and real suffering.  My parents, through their work and friends, have enabled me to go beneath the surface of the easy life.  So, I have gone beyond the tiny bubble that most white teenagers exist in here in Zimbabwe.

I’ve witnessed the monstrosities that my government has committed. I see starving children begging for food on the street and know that they, like thousands of others, have lost everything to the tyrannical hatred of a power grabbing group of people, cheating their way through elections and burning down whatever stood in their way, including the homes and lives of children.

What I hate most about my home is the hatred and disunity between people, particularly the segregation between whites, blacks, coloureds, Indians and the rest. I find the fact that people hate one another just because of the colour of the other’s skin absolutely disgusting and incredibly tragic. When it comes down to it, we’ve all suffered in one way or another under Mugabe’s regime. Whether you’re a white farmer, an Indian company owner, a black shopkeeper or a coloured teacher, we’ve all been affected to a lesser or greater degree.

Zanu PF’s tactic to divide and conquer has succeeded. Racism is everywhere, it’s not just the older generation of black Zimbabweans who still feel bitter about  British colonisation, nor is it just the white farmers who have lost their land and not only the company owners whose once thriving businesses are now collapsed, or have been taken over by the current “leaders”; racism resides in the youth too.

I attend a girls only school and if you were to come to my school at break time you wouldn’t see groups of every ethnicity enjoying the sunshine together. No, you’d see carefully crafted circles of white girls alone, black girls alone, coloured girls alone and Indian girls alone, colour coordinated with their friends perfectly.

When I got there I didn’t understand at all, my best friends in junior school were Indian, black, white, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, and the colour of their skin didn’t mean a thing to me. It didn’t occur to me that high school would be any different. But I soon learned it was. In my first year I asked a friend in Form 2 why Thembelihle couldn’t sit with us and she explained that white girls sit with white girls, and black girls sit with black girls, that’s just the way things are. And no matter how hard we tried to stay friends, we were forced into conforming. .

Even today, when I refuse to laugh at the racist “I’m just kidding” jokes I hear, and openly disapprove of them, I’m the one who’s labelled ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that they don’t really understand the evil they are spreading, they echo their parents’ hatred with no thought to the pain that comes from their words.  They say the things they do because they hear it from others, true sheep following the crowd. The utter ignorance of people and the blind hatred they promote infuriates me more and more each day.

So, to everyone out there: before you judge a person because of the colour of their skin or what their ancestors did, think about the absurdity of these prejudices and realise how crazy it is to dislike someone due to their DNA. Rather get to know others first and educate yourself and the people around you on the need for unity in a nation, especially one like our own, which has continually struggled under a divisive  dictatorship.

A Zimbabwean teenager who feels privileged to know the truth.


Joe B says:

What a great write up, very true and to the point. It is incredible that a teenager can be so understanding and precise in what is happening to our beloved country and its' people...

Submitted by Joe B on 6 July 2012 - 10:02am
DP says:

I completely disagree with your comments here - I believe that there is hardly any segregation, especially compared to 10 years ago. I see at my sister's private schools and that of my boss's kids, children of all ages and races mixing together and talking and chatting. I am not sure which school you attend but I think it is more and more rare to see an ethnic divide in Zimbabwe. I also find that now with more equality for the black people, their chances in life are more equal to the white and therefore they are more integrated, have better opportunities, are better educated and therefor mix with those who have had opportunities. It is rather sad that you see life this way.... perhaps you need to come to the West of Zimbabwe where things are very different to your experience...

Submitted by DP on 6 July 2012 - 10:07am
True Grit says:

@Joe B -
I second that with all my heart.

Submitted by True Grit on 6 July 2012 - 11:28am
Chikomba says:

Brilliant. I am glad that there are some who can still see despite the poison and hatred spewed by the powers that be. I am a black middle aged man, who refused to sign up for the draft into the Rhodesian army(We were the first blacks to be called up into the army in 1978) I supported the freedom fighters, and was an ardent supporter of Robert Mugabe in the '80s, when he was still a decent incorruptible leader who would return the money he didn't use on foreign trips to the treasury. Zimbabwe, the beacon of hope, has however changed into a corrupt, greedy, repressive hell, governed by a nasty mafia, which uses racism as a cover for plunder and brutality. The saddest thing is that young black Zimbabweans, who have suffered and are going to suffer most from the policies of this repressive regime, have adopted the poisoned mantle of racism. It's sad.

Submitted by Chikomba on 6 July 2012 - 11:33am
Diaspora says:

Your experience will be reflected by who you associate with. Change your friends. There are much nicer people out there who will share the values you aspire to. Don't be dragged down by that kind of stupidity. And ask your parents to send you to a school that takes a stand against this sort of thing and positively encourages integration.

Submitted by Diaspora on 6 July 2012 - 12:00pm
ruzh says:

You cannot blame Zanu Pf for kids that are racists... Its family values...SImple as that.. UNless you are also borring a leaf from ZANU on blaming outsiders for all Zim ill...

Submitted by ruzh on 6 July 2012 - 1:17pm
Zimzamzim says:

This racism does not only exist in schools. I am white and have had stones and racist insults hurled at my car by black children who looked to be under the age of 5!!

My house-worker's 8 year-old daughter cannot speak English. When I asked why I was told that she is 'not allowed' to speak English at school! She has been taught it is the language of the "colonial masters' and must not be spoken!!

Thanks to the deliberate indoctrination of our youth by the powers that be, Zimbabwe will be plagued by racism for many years (even generations) to come.

Submitted by Zimzamzim on 6 July 2012 - 2:55pm
toko says:

are you noreen welch the former zbc news reader?

Submitted by toko on 7 July 2012 - 6:30am
TKO says:

I have nothing but respect for this honest opinion although acknowledge people have different experienced. Only a fool would notaccept that the policies of the Zanu PF government and the one before it did not polarise people and encourage open racism. Sadly everyone is guilty of buying into it when it is convenient or when circumstances often relating to survival dictate. The first step towards solving a problem is admitting their is one, at least this piece tried to do that. We will never get beyond people congregating around those who share their culture. We have to accept that it is not always skin colour that groups people but their culture and sicko economic status as well. Their is beauty in our diversity and it is an asset as long as we do not use it as grounds for hate.

Submitted by TKO on 7 July 2012 - 6:41am
Sokwanele says:

Remember ... this young writer is in her teens. Her life experience and her phrasing of her views is shaped by her age and immediate context. She's giving thought to weighty issues that not even adults have cracked.

Submitted by Sokwanele on 7 July 2012 - 11:47am


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