Just an African, not a Zimbabwean, my wish

AS a Zimbabwean living and working in Kenya we socialise largely with our southern African brothers and sisters.


One such gathering was on May 15 to watch the muc

h-awaited announcement as to who would host the 2010 soccer World Cup.


What a morning, with much shouting and screaming when South Africa was announced as the winning host country for this great event.

Mandela’s response to a question did not dwell on how great South Africa was, but on words of wisdom to the losing countries about never giving up and trying again when the chance next comes around, words that can only come from such a statesmen.


Next we heard President Thabo Mbeki congratulate the whole continent on this wonderful opportunity and achievement. He spoke of South Africans, both black and white, he spoke of unity, he spoke with such great inspiration I could see the pride showing in my South African brothers and sisters’ faces.


We all shared in their pride. The first advertisement was President Mbeki’s monologue of “I am an African”, and in the context of what had just happened brought tears to my eyes. For the first time I wished I had been born 700km south, in South Africa. I certainly had nothing to be proud of as a Zimbabwean.


The day’s celebrations continued into the evening. Not sure how it happened but we were suddenly watching KTN, a Kenyan TV channel (yes this country is blessed with choice), and confronted with an interview with President Mugabe.


It was horrid. This man spoke with venom, he was totally negative. His performance was indescribable. (He did promise to step down but only in 2008.)


In comparison to the two South African statesmen we had heard that morning, we heard the sounds of a pitiful man with so much hatred, and I felt pity for him. For a man who fought for and attained our Independence, it was embarrassing and shameful how the mighty can fall. President Mbeki in his monologue said: “Today it feels good to be an African”, but in that moment, in that group with our South African friends, it was a day that none of us Zimbabweans could hold our heads up high and say: “Today it feels good to be a Zimbabwean”.


The tears this time were on the other cheeks, those of our South African brothers and sisters, for us their Zimbabwe brothers and sisters.


We went home after an exhilarating day, but saddened by words of this man who calls himself a leader, certainly not my leader.



A Sibanda,

Nairobi,

Kenya.