A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Frontline-World Zimbabwe 6/27

I don't know how many of you caught the Frontline-world last night on PBS. I watched the first half, which basically had a reporter sneak into Zim with a camera and videotape what she saw. I'll admit: it was pretty brutal. From someone who'd been there, only 4 or so years ago, it was devastating to see how far things had fallen. The grocery stores without food, hundreds queued at the bank for scarce bills, lines of mini-buses waiting for petrol, and the overall beatdown of the Zimbabwean populace. So, kudos for getting into the country and risking arrest to film the place.
My gripe is the reporter herself. She really didn't seem to know too much about Zimbabwe or Zimbabweans, but nonetheless made value judgments based on her interactions with them. One was pretty early one, when she and her camera(man?) got on a donkey-pulled cart to speak with a farmer. She asked him why the country was going down, who was responsible, etc. The guy said, basically, that it was the people in charge. Then he said "Even you know who is responsible for this situation." The reporter interpreted this to mean that the guy was scared to say "Mugabe," further evidencing the dictator's iron rule. Well, it's probably true that he didn't really want to say Mugabe's name, but it's also true that speaking directly about people and things like that is not necessarily the accepted form of communication. Indirect accusation and parables are just as damning as direct namings, at least from my experience there. I also wondered if all the Zimbabweans shown in the videotape were explicitly told that their faces would be prominently displayed on TV, dissenting against the regime. It just seemed a little, dangerous, but I assume they knew what they were getting into.
But it was a good show. Just seemed like they could have gotten someone with a little more Southern Africa "experience" to report on it. (Watch: she's probably a well-known reporter from Johannesburg.) But also, the situation in Zim has been going on for YEARS...again amazing that only now are (a select few) people starting to take notice. The most vile parts were probably the state-sponsored propaganda pieces: one showed a car being smashed to hell in an "accident," with the warning to "VOTE ZANU-PF IF YOU WANT TO LIVE!" The other was an interview with Mugabe for his 82nd birthday on state TV, with a chirpy interviewer delicately asking Mugabe "What do you say to your detractors?" Mugabe, ever the realist, said that "My Western detractors do not speak for my people. If you ask my people, they will tell you the truth!"



Blogger steve said...

The commercial was pretty hilarious.

Also, I can't imagine that the average people she talked to weren't aware of the danger.

I dunno, for me the thing is it's such an obvious case of "someone could do something about this." I really don't think there'd be anyone with roadside bombs defending the Mugabe regime, esp. not if it's an effort from the African Union or southern african states. The South African response always puzzles me--it's such a huge hassle for them yet they say nothing at all. I guess the power they're getting from Zimbabwe is important, but that important?

10:48 AM

Blogger neill said...

In case BZ doesn't get to this one-- it's America's fault. Zing!

2:50 PM

Blogger BZ said...

Toochey, Toushey, Tu-Che, Twoshay, 2-shay, To-shay, Tuche...Neil. (i have no idea how to spell this word)

The wounds of colonialism will take centuries to heal. Africa is nobody's fault, Neil. In a way it is everyone's fault.

Please see the film Shooting Dogs. Not on this topic, but a good film nonetheless.

9:30 PM


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