6 de dezembro de 2007

From Greatness to Ruin




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...

14 comentários:

JOY disse...

Hi Blond,

Thanks for your visit.
When you want to visit my blog you are welcome.Excuse-me ,But my english is not good.I´m back if you don´t mind.

Best regards
JOY

Peter disse...

O meu apreço para com os jornalistas João Dias Miguel (texto) e Luís Barra (fotos) pela coragem e determinação com que realizaram a sua reportagem em Harare, sob o título "... o país maldito", publicada na revista VISÃO de 29 de Novembro.

bluegift disse...

Um artigo sem boas fontes não é artigo que se preze.

Fizeste bem em trazer aqui este tema embora, francamente, eu tenha uma ideia muito particular acerca desta estória de andar a "civilizar" os "selvagens". Deixá-los em paz, na selva, seria muito mais honesto e, pasme-se: civilizado! Mas enfim, este tema daria pano para muitas mangas.

Outra situação que me apraz é o facto de a pobrezinha da GB, que tanto lutou e boicotou para que Portugal não tivesse a região interna de África, ligando Angola a Moçambique, tenha visto mais um dos seus impérios de estimação cair em desgraça.

Será que a Rainha também deveria estar presente e fazer "chut up" ao Mugabe?

Deviam era "cair na real" e deixar-se de tiques superiores imperialistas, isso sim.

Mas isto sou eu que o digo, também tenho os meus tiques de estimação ;-)

bluegift disse...

Desculpa o erro, eu queria dizer: "shut up"
A minha escrita está cada vez pior...

António de Almeida disse...

-África, uma terra fascinante, sofre privações inimagináveis, alguns, enquanto outros vivem na mais obscena das opulências. Zimbabwe, mas também Angola e muitos outros, lutaram pela independência, conseguiram-na, mas nada ganharam, passados estes anos, já nem podem culpabilizar as potências mundiais, nem os ex-colonizadores. Para quando, o aproveitamento dos enormes recursos naturais, que jorram daqueles solos? A bem dos povos africanos, e porque não? da própria humanidade!

Tiago R Cardoso disse...

Muito bem , sim senhor.

Ainda hoje ouvi declarações de opositores de Mugabe e alguns ainda lá vivem.

No entanto também ouvi e com razão que também estam cá outros da mesma qualidade do Mugabe.

quintarantino disse...

I will leave the comments on mister Mugabe for the expertees that wander around in the "net" and know everything, talk about everything.
I will rather say that you made me smile when I started reading your article. Then, suddendly, it was just like if my soul was flying over the "kraals" and the streets of old Bulawayo (in Zimbabue). Soon enough I was seeing old Pretoria. And feeling the smell of those jacarandas... thank you Blonde.

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear all,
This is a topic that interests me greatly. My Masters thesis was about Zimbabwe, Southeast Africa and Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I'm not in favour of imperialism but I totally go over the edge to see what is going on in Africa today.
There could be great countries there and what we have is destruction and disrespect for the liberties and rights we hold so dear in our so-called "developed world".
I personally consider it a shame and a national humilliation that we receive some of the African leaders that are coming for the Summit. We're talking about tyrants whose presence should not be welcome in our country.

indomável disse...

Dear Blonde and all the rest,

I suppose we can all accuse the portuguese government of being hypocrite when inviting all those tyrants and human rights violators to sit at the same table as democratic countries to discuss relations between Africa and Europe.

But, since I'm always on the no side, against what is usually the main idea, I ask you all:
What should have the portuguese presidency have done? Deny those countries their representation in the discussion? Deny these tyrants to be seen? and at the same time deny those against them to have the visibility they're having now in a neutral field, where they can speak against those tyrants without being afraid of what can happen to them?
The eyes of the world are on the summit and everything that goes on around it is seen all over the world. What better time for those against the regimes to speak against them without fear?
So, is tho portuguese presidency wrong?
In a very diplomatic way, this time I'm with socrates. Diplomacy can be used to show everyone that something is very wrong, without violence you can change the image of a continent.

JOY disse...

Olá Blonde ,

Eu também tenho algumas dúvidas quanto ao desejo de Civilizar quem provavelmente não quer ser civilizado e este civilizado coloque-se entre aspas.Em relação ao Mugabe Práticamente quase tudo foi dito acerca desse Assasino ditador.

JOY

João Castanhinha disse...

Great post dear blondie, hope you didnt misunderstood my comments in the other blog, it wasnt my intention to atack you in any way, I do really hope you didnt.
Great post, and one more thing, is your master thesis available for common readers lk me to consult?
Thank you.

Cheers,

João

Blondewithaphd disse...

Dear João Castanhinha,
Of course my thesis is available, but if I told you, I would stop being Blondewithaphd, wouldn't I?

antonio disse...

The american girl as just resume the history of Zimbabwe to its colonial insight. Zimbabwe through the eyes of the colonials! For some there is no future for the black Africa.

The Bush in skirts strikes again! But it is a good post with lot of historical information about Rhodesia… (love you Blond, after all we all have a Bush inside of us) ;)

Joshua disse...

Hey, Blondie, from now on you'll be to me my very friend Lightningblondie!

Quintarantino was Tarantino after me.