Remember Maputo, the capital of Mozambique? The streets were full of potholes, the buildings old and crumbling. There was Vilankulos as well, the quiet seaside town with no phones or paved roads. Now, suddenly, we step off the bus into a modern urban city, and it makes me wonder, "What made the difference?"
We hop into a taxi with our packs to go find the rest of the team. I'm excited because we haven't seen them since we were in Cape Town, a whole month ago! The taxi driver is friendly and smiling. "Where are you from? How is Zimbabwe?"
"Well, we just got here," I told him, "but we're amazed at how developed and modern Harare is compared to Mozambique, where we just came from."
Several days have gone by now since I met that taxi driver and every Zimbabwean Iíve met since has echoed his sentiment. Of course, it wasn't that simple. After the war, there were many hard feelings between the whites and the blacks, and many whites did what was called "taking the gap," they moved to South Africa, which was then still dominated by the whites. But, in comparison to Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi, the countries surrounding Zimbabwe, that also got their independence around the same time, Zimbabwe has done quite well, especially considering the problems they faced.
Doris Lessing, a famous Zimbabwean author, really put it into perspective for me when she wrote:
Looking at it that way, it's amazing that this country, now only twenty years later, is doing as well as it is. Colonization did leave Zimbabwe a little better off than Mozambique. The British, unlike the Portuguese, built some (though not enough) hospitals and schools for the native population. They trained black agricultural workers so that Zimbabwe, unlike Mozambique and Zambia, has been able to grow enough food to feed itself and sell or donate its surplus to other countries. They have even done a lot to help Mozambique, while South Africa was trying to destroy it.
Despite the many problems and obstacles they have still to overcome, the pride that Zimbabweans feel about their country seems well-founded. So now, for a few days, the team is again reunited here in Harare, enjoying the kind people and the modern city. Tonight, we're going out dancing! I wish you could join us!
Monica - Breaking the Silence: 5 Brigade Victims Compensated
Shawn - Mystic Fortunes of Great Zimbabwe
Monica - Visit with a Freedom Fighter: Talking about the Past, Looking Towards the Future
Making a Difference - Shouting from the Mountaintops to Raise Rape Awareness!
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