By: Shingi Mavima: CLUBHOUSE International Executive Director
Today, Zimbabwe turns 32.
In a global context, 32 years makes for a very young nation- you would be hard pressed to count on your hands the number of sovereign nations established after Zimbabwe’s independence on 18 April, 1980 (with the exception of the 20+ countries established in the early 90s due the Soviet dissolution) . Despite its youth- or perhaps due to it- the Southern African nation has already seen more than its fair share of national triumphs and tragedies: from contested and violent elections to Olympic pride, unfathomable AIDS scourge to amazing literacy rates and so on- you have had the story; it has been impossible to miss over the past ten years or so.
Leading the Zimbabwean narrative has been the collapse of the economy in the aftermath of a beleaguered land redistribution program and political upheaval in the backdrop of drought years and AIDS’s lost generation of young adults.
In the aftermath of the ugly 2008 presidential elections, the country looked set for a further downward spiral with no end in sight. However, the creation of the coalition government and subsequent ‘dollarization’ (replacing the local currency with American dollars) of the economy has brought by some stability, although many economists and social pundits figure it is only ephemeral and perennially hangs on the verge of falling apart.
The problem with poverty is beyond the scarcity of basic needs; it is the disillusionment of the brilliant mind. Children going to school underfed do not only suffer from an empty stomach, they are also exposed to a grim story that says “No matter how hard you work, you might end up barely surviving; just look at your parents.” Wherein lays the motivation to improve one’s self when those who have taken that route before you have little to show for it? How do you ignite a sense of pride in a community that appears to have let its members down?
While the government and other powers that be will continue to try and make sense of their own role in continuing the clean-up job, the answer may well be in a bottom-up approach to society rebuilding. Provincial economies, civil societies, local philanthropies, sports and entertainment opportunities; all these serve to re-establish society at its very core.
CLUBHOUSE would like to wish Zimbabwe a happy 32nd Anniversary. It is an honor and heart-felt responsibility to serve you and with you!