Mugabe is coming but I'm not giving him any importance by writing about him. So I'm going to do things my way and still talk about Zimbabwe, a ruin of a country with a past of greatness.
João de Barros was one of the pioneers in introducing Portugal, and the world (for we were grand then) to Zimbabwe. Describing the lands of Manica, he talked about a place " no meyo do qual está huma fortaleza [...] toda de cantaria e [...] em torno deste édificio em alguns outeiros estã outros a maneira delle [...]. A todos estes édificios os da terra lhe chamã Symbáoué, que acérca delles quer dizer córte". At the time, the Portuguese called this region the Monomotapa and believed it was full of gold. Expeditions were sent to dig the precious metal together with missionaries to spread Christianity, one of whom, Gonçalo da Silveira, was killed and then chanted by Camões in The Lusiad: "Vê do Benomotapa o grande império,/De selvática gente, negra e nua,/Onde Gonçalo morte e vitupério/Padecerá pola Fé santa sua" (X, 93).
Europe had a mirage of Zimbabwe. In a continent of huts and kraals, here were splendid stone buildings made by an enigmatic ancient civilization and the land was rich in gold, probably the mines of King Solomon were here. However, Portugal soon lost interest in the Monomotapa region. And Zimbabwe was lost to the world until the 19th century.
It was a German explorer and archaeologist that rediscovered Zimbabwe. Karl Mauch gave up his health to study the imposing mysterious monument and suddenly Europe was interested again in this interior African region. Of course, Mauch was a harmless scholar, but the British were intrepid imperialists and whenever they smelled gold... no stones would be left untouched.
In the last decades of the 19th century, Cecil Rhodes would become one of the richest, most powerful men in the world. And unfortunately for a part of the world he was a tremendous imperialist (more than the Queen of England herself). He went to South Africa at an early age because he needed a good weather for his poor health. But he was ambitious, determined and intelligent. Soon he made a colossal fortune in the diamond mines of the Rand. He alone was so powerful that he sent expeditions to the north of Cape Colony and founded a country with his own name: Rhodesia.
History is so ironic that Rhodesia was the Monomotapa Portugal had abandoned. So, here it was, a private country, property of a man with immense power and an unbreakable will. Rhodesia was then added to the colonial map of Britain. And so it stayed until 1965 when independence was unilaterally declared. However, due to internal conflicts, the status of colony was imposed again and finally in 1980 independence definitely came. Rhodesia changed its name to an ancestral Zimbabwe and a new country was born.
From then on only one person has had the power to rule. From then on a prosperous country became one of the poorest. From then on a "reign of terror" has swept the land. From then on life expectancy dropped to 37. From then on human rights have been abused endlessly. From then on censorship is the norm (CNN and BBC are forbidden from reporting there). From then on the land of ancient greatness became a broken wreck of misery and suffering.
No, I'm not going to talk about Mr. Mugabe...