Zimbabwe, Coup or Not? Does it Matter?
HAVE YOU been watching the news about Mugabe in Zimbabwe? Is it a coup?
Early on Wednesday morning the military placed 93-year old President Mugabe under house arrest. The announcement of the arrest was made by two military officers on the national broadcasting system. They said President Mugabe was under house arrest for his own safety and this was not a coup.
President Robert Mugabe is the only leader the independent country has known.
Zimbabwe was created out of Rhodesia. In 1965 white-ruled Rhodesia declared independence from Britain. The move was condemned around the world. This was after all a time when African black-ruled countries were becoming independent.
Mugabe was an active opponent to white rule. For his efforts to defeat the government, he was imprisoned for eleven years.
By 1979 the British negotiated a peace deal. Mugabe, who had become a well-respected political leader, was elected Prime Minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe.
Within two years Mugabe was accused of violence against political opponents. In 1988 the constitution was changed and he became President. For a few years he made investments in education and health. But by 2000 the economy was declining.
The UN head addressed the issue of Mugabe in Zimbabwe, encouraging calm.
In that year he decided the government could seize white-owned farms to be given to black Africans.
Mugabe fired his vice-president last week. Many thought that move was orchestrated by his wife so she could become vice-president and then take over the government.
The New York Times has an excellent article on the history of Mugabe’s rule.
I was surprised by another NYTimes article today that showed Mugabe in public at a graduation ceremony in the capital. The military seems to be committed to showing that Mugabe is safe. He’s in the center in blue cap.
Today the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, the ZDF, issued a statement about a march scheduled for Saturday: “The ZDF [says] that for as long as the planned march remains orderly, peaceful and in tandem with the fundamental bill of rights and within the confines of the country’s constitution and without hate speech and incitement to cause violence, it fully supports the march.”
I believe there is hope that the march, billed as an anti-Mugabe event, will convince Mugabe he should leave office peacefully.
Building Community in New Haven, CT
Yesterday I was in New Haven, Connecticut for the Yale Alumni Association Annual Assembly., a two-day event called, “Creating Communities at Yale.” The title intrigued me, given that my second book is about building community in an African setting.
Several morning sessions focused on how Yale is made up of communities. One example: the Director of Wright Laboratory spoke about the lab as a community-building place for science students. He said it’s especially important because scientists can easily become isolated within their own research interest.
My favorite was “Bringing the World to Yale: International Student Communities,” at the Office of International Students and Scholars. Seven students shared experiences at Yale. Panelists included women from Myanmar and Iraq, and men from China, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda.
I spoke with the student from Zimbabwe afterwards. He is a candidate for a Master’s Degree with a concentration in energy studies. Of course we spoke about the situation in his country. He said having the fired vice-president return and take over, which has been discussed, was not a popular option. He’s not sure what the right choice now is.
I also went to “Empowering Diverse Communities for Students, Faculty and Staff.” I learned about initiatives to hire more faculty of color, and even more important, how to retain them. Among staff too there are initiatives to offer more advancement opportunities to people of color than have been provided in the past.
And one more small world story: the very first person I met at Yale yesterday graduated from Yale College in 1992, and is now a physician in Boston. He was representing the Boston Alumni Group. I asked where he trained.
“Boston,” he said. Did he want to avoid naming Harvard, Yale’s rival? I’ve seen this referred to also as a nod to modesty, not to name Harvard. I don’t understand this, but I knew where he meant!
So I asked if he knew my daughter, who also trained, was a resident, then assistant professor “in Boston.” I gave both her maiden and married names and her field.
“Yes, I did know her,” he said after a moment’s thought!
Shaping the Business of Music in Africa
AFRIMA, All Africa Music Awards, held a Business Roundtable in Lagos to discuss the music industry.
Our son Sam was a featured speaker. He’s third from left in the picture, and if you read the article, you can see him seated with three others on stage, partially hidden by the microphone.
“Samo Onyemelukwe said that capacity development in the entertainment industry in Africa is part of the goals of Trace TV. He encouraged music artistes to develop a local base at home instead of making huge music investments with worldwide tours,” the press release said.
Thank You for the Titles
Many of you responded to my request for help with choosing a title for my second book.
Thank you so much. Your suggestions are valuable and give me much to think about! Now I have to make a choice. I’ll let you know soon.