ZIMBABWE – Internet, you double-edged sword! Along with satellite television, the Internet has been one of the amazingly powerful influences of our globalised world, especially in the dissemination of news and information. For some time we thought the Internet was a tool especially for the exposure of tyrants in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere and medium for regime change.
We have all heard about the Facebook and Twitter revolutions.
Footage from “citizen journalists” has also provided us with glances into the world of tyranny in these other places outside of the West.
But lo and behold!
The same Internet and citizen journalism and in general up-to-the-minute news is also affording us a glance into the tyranny in the very purported homes of human rights and democracy.
Just consider the United States of America, which we all thought was the land of the Free and land of opportunity.
What goes on every day in everyday lives, especially of black people and other minorities, is far from romantic.
Apart from suffering poverty in the land of supposed plenty, blacks are targets of apartheid, hate crimes, wrongful arrests and unfair trials and murders at the hands of police.
It is just appalling, and you have not heard this for the first time here.
The sad thing is that there is no let up on this outrage.
Just take a look at stories that were trending this week.
The biggest story has been of a 14-year-old student, who should ordinarily be called a genius, who was arrested for making a clock.
In the widely reported incident, Ahmed Mohamed, was handcuffed and detained after school officials accused him of making a fake bomb.
One newspaper reports that Ahmed, “who is partial to tinkering, technology and NASA T-shirts and wants to go to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where our own Professor Arthur Mutambara was a Research Scientist and Professor of Robotics and Mechatronics) found himself in a social media whirlwind that reflected the nation’s charged debates on Islam, immigration and ethnicity.”
By the way Ahmed is black, hailing from Sudan.
His greatest and immediate crime was that he is Moslem.
His father, according to the Telegraph, pointed out that they lived in their house for more than 30 years and that his son had fixed his car, his phone, his electricity and his computer and had built, “in true all-American fashion”, a go-kart.
“That is not America,” Telegraph quoted him as saying of Ahmed’s detention.
“That is not us. That is not like us.”
(He is not like them, of course!)
It doesn’t matter, does it, that US President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tried to placate the boy and public anger — and perhaps score cheap political points — by seemingly encouraging him, the former inviting the lad to White House.
Driving while black
An official called the boy’s incident a “pernicious stereotype”.
This is what pervades this society to the extent that there is an offence, hold your breath, called driving while black!
Essentially, black people driving cars are said to be systematically harassed and arrested and often suspected of driving stolen cars.
This is what one woman found out in an incident reported this week, again.
Kamilah Brock (32) who is a banker, is suing New York City after she claims she was forced to spend eight days in a mental health facility and given a $13 000 bill because a police officer didn’t believe the BMW she was driving was hers.
She is said to have been initially stopped at a red light ostensibly because she did not have her hands on the wheel and was then asked to get out of the car, taken into custody and held for several hours before being released.
According to the media, she was told to return to pick up her 2003 BMW 325Cl the next day, but when she did police said they didn’t believe she was the rightful owner of the vehicle.
“She was taken to Harlem hospital psychiatric ward, where she claims medical records obtained by her attorney, Michael Lamonsoff, show she was forced to take lithium and injected with powerful sedatives.”
Her ordeal lasted eight days.
We are told that over the eight days in the hospital, personnel repeatedly tried to get Brock to deny that she owned the BMW, that she was a banker, and that President Barack Obama followed her on Twitter — all of which were true.
Her lawyer asked: “If a white woman was trying to reclaim her BMW impounded by police, would she have been made a victim?”
Let us belabour you with two more incidents, again reported this week and have video footage which we saw, thanks to the Internet.
One involves a white police officer who arrested an innocent black man for carrying a golf club.
She lied that he had swung the club at her car.
The video, which anyone can see, shows that he didn’t and had actually stopped at a pedestrian crossing light when he was accosted by the woman.
The old man, said to be a retired bus driver and war veteran, is said to have used the club as a walking stick for 20 years.
We are happy to report that the cop has since been relieved of her duties, especially so for her incorrigible racial bias.
In the last incident, a black teenager was detained for jaywalking not before being harassed and ganged up against by nine policemen!
Lessons from Zimbabwe
You may think that these are well-choreographed acts and actions. No!
These are random incidents and for our part we did not do any digging, these incidents just made it onto the Internet and news just this week.
We have not saddled you with graver incidents about police killings and brutality and racial profiling.
These are just a few incidents, through the eyes of the media.
And as fate would have it, there was a story on US’ propaganda mouthpiece, the Voice of America.
The VOA had a story titled, “Political ‘Aggression’ Against Whites Not Hurting Zimbabwe Race Relations”.
The essence of the piece is that the white minority is not being victimised, hounded and killed in Zimbabwe, despite the fact that this is a race that colonised us and oversaw the killing of the black kind in the most genocidal fashion during their apartheid rule.
Some active participants of that war have even been part of the majority rule.
In 1980, then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe offered a hand of reconciliation to white minority colonisers saying oppression by blacks or whites was despicable and called for co-existence between the Rhodesian Front, then led by Ian Douglas Smith, and liberation parties – Joshua Nkomo’s PF Zapu and the prime minister’s Zanu-PF, the story tells us.
We are told that at that time there were almost 300 000 whites living in the new Zimbabwe but there are only about 40 000 whites left now.
“What does it mean to be a white person living in Zimbabwe?” asks the piece rhetorically.
One David Coltart says most Zimbabweans despite suffering years of brutal abuse at the hands of white settlers, are not racists.
“According to the former Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker, his family has been living in harmony with blacks for many years, an indication that whites are part of life in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe remains a wonderful place to live in because despite all the hate speeches being spewed out by Zanu-PF the fact of the matter is that we have remarkably good race relations in this country,” the story says helpfully adding: “This is despite the fact that Coltart was in the Rhodesian military fighting against so-called terrorists aligned to Zapu and Zanu.”
Another white Zimbabwean, Ian Kay, we are told, says: “Zimbabwe is my home, there is no need to leave.”
Another white lawmaker, Eddie Cross, testifies that, “Society as a whole, I don’t feel any discrimination at all.”
These are prominent people and the same goes for ordinary whites and Indians in this country.
We live peacefully.
A white man or woman or child is not going to be stopped and searched and humiliated because of their skin colour.
If a white man were to wander off into Mbare high density suburb of Harare and anywhere else today they would not be skinned alive or eaten.
That is us Zimbabweans.
It is a pity that some white people choose, unnecessarily to live in enclaves and avoid mixing and mingling with the majority.
But it is their choice.
Those that choose to live with the people know the people’s hospitality.
It is the same hospitality that the likes of Coltart, who ordinarily should have been hanged for Rhodesian crimes against humanity, can attest to.
It is a lesson and humanity which we can teach America.