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My thoughts are about Mugabe tonight

He has been unwelcome for so many years now, and he has always known that he has lost previous elections. This time its different: he can't stand in front of us and tell us how popular and wanted he is, daring us to say different, with us silenced and only knowing by the proof that is in ours hearts and bodies that he is a liar.

This time, as one newspaper report put it, 'the writing was on the wall': in every little nook and cranny of our lovely country, ordinary people, rich and poor, saw with their own eyes that Mugabe and his band of thugs was finished.

Try stand before me now, Mr Mugabe, and tell me how much the nation wants you! Now, I can smile to your face and tell you that you are deluded, a liar and the worst kind of thief. A man who through selfishness and complete arrogance, will hang on to a figment of his own imagination that he is respected and wanted and admired, and in so doing impose the worse kind of suffering on an entire nation of people.

We could have said all this to Mugabe before, but he would have looked at us in that smug, self-centered, challenging manner he has, with a smirk that says 'prove it'!

Well, now we can. You are not popular, Mr Mugabe. You haven't been for a very long time.

Being able to prove it, however, doesn't make it true at last; it merely confirms what we all have known - you included - for years and years and years. What it means is that you have to find a way to accommodate within yourself the enormity of the realisation that we, as a nation, have been filled with disgust and despair at you for years.

You are not adored. Mr Mugabe. Move on and allow us to breathe again. Your presence in power suffocates our future and ruins our lives.

It may surprise people to know that a person like me, who has worked against this man for so many years, actually spends very little time thinking about the man that Mugabe is.

My thoughts, and I know the thoughts of my colleagues, have always been leaden with the weight of the knowledge of how much the people in Zimbabwe are suffering. How deep their pain is; how ingenious and incredible they are in their ability to keep surviving despite the odds against them; and how tragically and bitterly isolated they have been for so many years in their grief and hardship, shut off from the world and seeingly abandoned to a fearful future. Forgotten.

I have not been motivated by hate for Robert Mugabe; I have been motivated by the deepest compassion for my fellow human beings. I am endlessly overwhelmed by Zimbabwean people, and my bond has grown immeasurably through the last few years. How can I do anything except admire the fortitude of human beings who can always find a bit of dry humour in a crisis, who toil in loneliness in foreign countries simply so they can send home money for elderly relatives and young siblings; who manage to stand apart from violence no matter how deep the provocation has been?

If I could be half as courageous or half as strong as the Zimbabwean people I encounter I would be such a rich person. Zimbabweans are amazing; and their quiet strength and dignity only makes Mugabe seem so much more abusive and cruel.

So I don't usually think about Mugabe on a personal level at all: but today I have.

Celebrations are times when you share a happy event with people close to you. We felt for a brief moment today, that we were on the very teetering knife-edge brink of a momentous period in our history. A time for celebration. However, for me, much of the communication - the sharing - took place by sms messages, emails, phone calls with my family and friends.

We couldn't look over to each other, share a beer and laugh, because in the few years this man has taken to devastate our nation, he has also managed to split my family and friends into the teeniest fragmented group. We are all over the world now.

Many have left Zimbabwe because they simply could not afford to continue living, because they had small children to feed and educate. Others left because they could no longer risk being elderly in a country where pensions are a nonsense.

All of them are longing to see the back of this man who has had such an impact on their lives, but their moments of joy today, like mine, have also been punctuated by the deepest deepest sadness that so much has changed and so much has been lost. It's very bittersweet.

I come from a very large family, and several family members have died in the last seven years. I believe with all my heart that their ailments were worsened by the stress and difficulty of trying to pay medical bills, rent, or pay for food. I try not to think hard about the fact that their last years alive were spent in a state of stress and worry about their futures rather than relaxing in retirement.

Life has been so hard and every day has been plagued with worry about what next, mostly for my family. In many ways, getting through the last few years has only been possible because I didn't allow myself to think too deeply or too hard about the costs, the pain or the losses. To just keep going, no matter what.

When the enormity of that dawned on me today, my thoughts about Mugabe 'the man' swelled even more. I am realising that I probably have anger inside me, that can only start to be expressed now. I was close to tears at many points today, so I think I still have to face a time where I can let go and grieve as well.

In the midst of my own ordinary pain - typical of many - I can't stop thinking about what other people who have gone through far` worse than I have must be feeling at this time.

How does the mother of Gift Tandare feel today? Gift being the young man who was shot about a year ago because Mugabe cannot tolerate dissent or free expression. Does she look over at the joy that others are expressing and yearn for her son, and worry that his sacrifices may just be lost in the euphoria of the moment.

Or the wives and children of David Stevens or Martin Olds, two white farmers who were both murdered in the most despicably cruel fashion by Mugabe's thugs in the earlier days of the struggle? Do they feel that their men are now just statistics littering Mugabe's wake of destruction.

How do all those people who lost their homes during Murambatsvina feel? Or those parents listening to today's events on a shabby radio from a cold shanty town hut in South Africa, where they scratch out a living on the sides of the road so they can feed their families left in Zimbabwe? What about the thousands who had family members invisibly tortured and slaughtered during the Gukurahundi during the 1980s?

The list of those who have suffered and do suffer under Mugabe goes on and on and on.

There was one small moment today - in between the insane highs of possibility and hope, and the lows of uncertainty - where I slumped into the deepest most profound anger towards this one man named Robert Mugabe. I let myself say the words I have never ever said, and that was, 'I hate you, Robert Mugabe! I hate you with all my heart'.

But I feel odd even writing the words which most would probably think are entirely justified given everything that has happened. But I don't like feeling that way. The extreme anger scares me. And when I pull back quickly from the dark place I feel myself drifting towards, I wonder if I really do hate him?

There was a time when all I wanted was for Mugabe to go to jail. I would argue that what he deserved was a cool dispassionate assessment of his crimes, and a suitable punishment to follow. But now, a part of me just wants to rest and recover and heal. I want our nation to be given a break, to have a chance, to experience a taste of normality for a change. I have come to a point where I want that even more than I want Mugabe in the Hague.

If I had a fantasy though, it is that I wish I could stand before him and look him deep in the eye, and I wish he would realise, truely realise to his core, exactly what he has done to us. I want him to carry that knowledge and that burden for the rest of his life. I want his shoulders to slump with remorse and regret and for him to be plagued by the enormity of his crimes forever.

It was when I was imagining that moment - the point where his arrogant gaze would shift away from mine and begin to weaken and look fearful - that I realised that maybe I do hate him. And I mean really, really, hate him. Because, quite honestly, the fantasy I have for him - if it was wished on me - would be far far worse than anything the Hague could ever deliver. It would be a cage, a nightmare to carry forever.

Even as I write this, I find it difficult to draw back and imagine something more magnanimous for him. I'm sorry, but I do want him to have that cage of guilt and regret and remorse and shame. I want him to long for our forgiveness, even if I know he is too arrogant to ever ask for it.

Is that vengeful of me?

Maybe one day I'll be a better and more forgiving person, but that will probably only happen when I am standing in the sunshine feeling free again. When my family is back again. When Christmases are normal again.

And while today seemed shatteringly, scarily close to the beginning of a very good thing, the absolute fact is that we are nowhere near the stage of wonderfulness yet. We all, I think, have a long way to go before we step out of the shadow of pain and start to be ourselves again. We have a long road to travel to repair ourselves and our country, but the one thing I am completely confident of is the fact that Zimbabweans have what it takes to get there.

We always talk about the huge party we will have when we are finally free, and I agree, we will. I'm looking forward to getting totally drunk and high on happiness. But I have a suspicion that before that happens, my first reaction will be to just have very good cry. And you know what, I'm starting to look forward to being able to do that too!

It will be so good to finally be properly alive again.

Comments

HILARY NYAMANDE says:

IM SPEECHLESS..as i read this..its like...uhhh..THIS WITOUT DOUBT THE BEST STORY..not that it is a story,it is reality IVE EVER HERD...u put the FEAR, WORRY, PAIN, REALITY, OPTIMISM OF ZIMBABWEAN PEOPLE RIGHT NOW..wat a story...u have touched my day...BUT I THINK..WE ARE CUMIN OUT OF THE TUNNEL..THEY IS NO RAINBOW WITHOUT THE RAIN..

I CAN C THE RAINBOW in the horizon of this moring...GOD BLESS ZIMBABWE**

1 LOVE
HILARY, 22 IN THE UK

Submitted by HILARY NYAMANDE on 2 April 2008 - 4:26am
Alisdair Budd says:

Have just read the Zim Herald. They seem to be preparing for a "tie" with Zanu and MDC and a second round of voting, since "no candidate will have more than 50%".

So now we wait to see if Mugabe wants to re-run and focus on properly intimidating and rigging the vote this time.

Or wether the Generals who would like a coup but cant trust their own men are making some sort of deal with the MDC and South Africa to protect themselves and save face for Mugabe.

Submitted by Alisdair Budd on 2 April 2008 - 6:57am
Tomas says:

Having 40-50% of the Presidential vote is not the same as being un-popular. Yes, maybe there are people voting ZANU PF out of fear, but there might also be a considerable number voting MDC - not due to their politics - but due to that they will be more accepted by the EU and the US.

I wish for a good future for all people in Zimbabwe. Diversity is good and so is unity in the task to improve the lives of people in the country

Submitted by Tomas on 2 April 2008 - 8:03am
Melantrys says:

I think every Zimbabwean has every right to hate Mugabe.
As long as you don't demand that he be publicly hung, drawn and quartered I wouldn't dream of calling your thoughts vengeful.
:)

Declare the last results already, and declare them truthfully, ZEC, we all want to hear some happy news here.

Submitted by Melantrys on 2 April 2008 - 8:12am
exbulawayo says:

Just want to say I agree 100% with you and can't wait to come back and walk where I used to walk and feel the complete uniqueness of this very special country and all its people from all walks of life.

Submitted by exbulawayo on 2 April 2008 - 8:34am
scotchcart says:

Good post.

I think as we move towards celebrating many of us will want to have services to remember people who have left us and to feel for people who lost everything. Let us remember them in our celebrations and begin the new Zimbabwe by including everyone equally.

Submitted by scotchcart on 2 April 2008 - 8:37am
Jack Kelley says:

Excellent account of Zimbabwe after independence, but lets remember the valiant struggle of that great Rhodesian IAN SMITH, who loved his country and it's people and warned us all of the consequences of MUGABE. Lets just hope that a more tolerant nation evolves and ALL her people are brought together to develop and share the fruits of that fantastic country. Zimababwe GOOD LUCK.

Submitted by Jack Kelley on 2 April 2008 - 8:52am
Francie says:

Thank you for a wonderful view and perspective of the private feelings of quite possible 80% of Zimbabweans. If (!!!) the regime does change, there is still a very , very long way ahead to return to the prosperous place and people you were before 1998; however, the knowledge of freedom from tyranny is already a great motivation.

Peace and blessings for you, and thank you for the honesty.....

Submitted by Francie on 2 April 2008 - 8:57am
Jen says:

Hope - you are a courageous hero. What a time in history you have reached. Our minds in all our far away corners of the world are filled with desperate hope, anxiety and love for you all still there in Zimbabwe. May the hours, days, weeks, months that unfold bring justice, peace and hard earned reward to all of you.
Your words so well written and explained feel so close to my heart. I live with my husband now in Australia but not a day goes by when I don't long for my home - Zimbabwe. May the day come soon when you can wake up and know that you are safe and your future is bright. All the best to you shamwari - take care.

Submitted by Jen on 2 April 2008 - 10:35am
Zvakanaka says:

Anything Hope? Anything....

Submitted by Zvakanaka on 2 April 2008 - 11:18am

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