In a conversation-starting podcast, two members of the Kubatana team discussed their personal experiences with and perspectives on racism in Zimbabwe and how #BlackLivesMatter relates to Zimbabwe.
This conversation was shared on WhatsApp and social media, and we invited our members to share their views on racism in Zimbabwe.
Here is some of the feedback we received . . .
Thank you for sharing your podcast, I’ve listened to this podcast and I do agree that there is racism in Zimbabwe. There is racism in Zimbabwe. I can relate to what happened. In the early days of the lockdown I was in a queue at Westgate, I wanted to enter into Bon Marche. So we were told to wait in the queue but there is this white girl who came who wanted to enter into the shop without waiting in the queue. The security officer said you should wait in the queue but she resisted and refused to wait in the same queue with us and said that she should not wait in the same queue as the blacks.
Racism is a cruel reality of life that us blacks experience. Racism should be criminalized because it has a major impact on the psychological aspect of a human being. The Zimbabwean government should do more on racism, because what was published in the Sunday Mail 12 July 2020 on racism in private schools was disturbing, classes were grouped according to race and that is totally wrong. I believe its high time the government of Zimbabwe criminalize Racism and schools found to be allowing racism should be shut down because we cannot keep on allowing ths cruel disease to keep on growing and dehumanizing us black people. That is my view on racism.
Okay, thank you. Racism in Zimbabwe is two-pronged. There is on one hand racism that is perpetrated by whites against blacks through white supremacism. And on the other hand there is also racism perpetrated by blacks against whites through black pride. As a solution I think there is need for healing and this can be achieved through societal integration. We need more whites taking part in national events, more whites associating with blacks instead of alienating them, maybe then we can get used, we can acclimatize or adapt and accommodate each other in our social life and that accommodation my bring a culture which may overtime put an end to racism.
Your podcast has a lot of sense, but poorly produced. Your voices are not heard, even if we connect you on big speakers, but at last we fluently heard Mtukudzi saying Ndafunga Dande. Next time try to improve your voices. I have tried to send it to my friends and many are complaining about the volume and voices.
First and foremost here in Zimbabwe the term racism seemed to be narrowed with the fact we’re independent… But when one took it on a political eye it is assumed that racism is taking place here in Zimbabwe. This is largely true when considers the fact that the ruling party looks down upon the majority especially from the lower class and even the opposition party hence exploitative and submissive of the majority… Also when one took a close eye to the incident of Gukurahundi it is vital note that it was racism which was decorating the incident.
Thank you for the interesting K-pod. For a century Zimbabwe under Colonial rule, the way of life was changed Racism played a part. But the racial governance structures that were 100 year old were just perpetuated up to today. We as a black nation continue to suffer from indirect racism as a result of the governance structure currently being used. The use of traditional governance systems is done in a way that was prevalent in the colonial era. Do black lives mater in Zimbabwe? If you are a young black woman or man (Youths) who is poor and do not belong to a rich family or a ruling party. You can be tortured and disappear any time and no one can do anything. If you are from the rural areas your life only matters towards elections. If you are not from the ruling party and you are not in the army or police, you are unfortunate to be black. The poor service delivery in our cities and rural areas is a clear sign that some people’s lives matter more than other people’s lives. However hope is there, if we seek to provide better service delivery to our people and give the youths an opportunity to play a part in leadership and above all embrace our own systems of governance we can end both direct and indirect racism.
Well it’s such an pathetic situation about racism and the K pod have mentioned a class of racism that is hidden. Racism is at a bigger scale in Zimbabwe about class and politics. Solution is change of government leaders that doesn’t have people at heart and its functionality, policy and its undemocratic activities. The president should not have overall powers and also vice president must be voted by people. The police and army to be taught about their responsibilities in respect to citizens’ rights.
Yaaaa, racism in its own from its definition or definitions is somewhat complicated. Narrowing it down to the Zimbabwean situation is another task again. However, I will try to summarise it as much as I can. Racism can be defined as a belief or action based on the connotations aligned to people of different races. Another race might end end up being viewed or treated as superior or inferior because of racism. It might be fueled by history of a people, racial composition of a society, economic and political power, myths among others. In Zimbabwe, racism is generally promoted by political motives aimed to soil the nature of whites. Colonial history also potrays black people of Zimbabwe as naturally inferior to whites of which some have accepted as a true standpoint. Proposed ways to do away with racism: Promoting programmes that showcase the good cultural aspects of different races like carnivals; Intermarriages between races; Economic empowerment of poor races.
My understanding of racism is that it’s an institutionalized system of domination and marginalization of racialized groups. It manifests itself in various forms in which white people are dominant over people of color in either social, economic, cultural or historical processes, a notion termed whiteness (Wale & Foster, 2007).
Steps we can take as Zimbabwean to make our nation better
- We need to challenge the denial of white priviledge. We cannot continue to ignore the mere fact that the white color presents with itself some white priviledges which fuel classism and erosion of African culture. White people should acknowledge discourses they use in defense of white priviledge for eg legitimization of white priviledge (justifying it with arguments such as we work hard than Blacks, Blacks don’t want to go to better schools, they make poor choices to justify the gaps in income, wealth, healthcare, housing, nutrition etc).
- Transformation in our education system against white priviledge pedagogy – racism is very psychological and a learnt behavior and we need to teach the future generation about racism to avoid invisibility of whiteness and black invisibility. White people fail to acknowledge that their choices are a result of a system that was created, supported and maintained by none other than themselves. Racism creates intellectual authority, erodes African culture and norms when Black people ignore their own culture, are made to feel incomplete and substantialize whiteness and give essence to it… so education against this is needed.
- We also need to look at policy making and strict implementation and enforcement against racism – as long as racism is not criminalized, white people will continue to covertly and overtly oppress people of color. In the late 1960s, after the passage of the Civil Rights and the Introduction of the Civil Rights and Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission in America, research shows that white people began to conceal their racism more carefully than ever before. Well, that’s America, in South Africa, the name-and-shame racists social media movements can be the language understood by racist people.
Lastly but not least, we can all hope for a better nation, but we all have a huge responsibility of critical humanism. We need to teach ourselves to love each other, embrace our diversity, celebrate our differences and above all live harmoniously guided by the spirit of Ubuntu. We need to look in the mirror and really think about what we do or say to other kids at home, our friends at school or work and other people in public. Racism is psychological oppression and not only ‘white people’ are racist!
– By Samke Ncube
Margolin, L (2015). Unpacking the invisible knapsack: The invention of white privilege pedagogy.Cogent Social Sciences,1:1053183.
Wale, K., & Foster, D. (2007). Investing in discourses of poverty and development: How white wealthy South African mobilize meaning to maintain white privilege. South African Review of Sociology, 38(1),45-69.
The liberation struggle for the independence of zimbabwe was key to emancipate the man of colour from colonialism. Racism has always been there in Zimbabwe mainly against the man of colour.
Thanks … I didn’t manage to listen to it because I was a little bit busy last weekend … but in my own opinion racism is now the norm since colonialism. Have you ever noticed how whites are treated even at a tender age for example if a white child comes and learn at a local school full of black students he or she is treated like someone special … Racism in now in our blood veins black people are placed in a non being zone, treated like animals and yet we are all human beings. I have noticed that over the past few months after the death of Floyd … may his soul rest in peace … there has been the alarming topic “black lives matter” but what about the whites. As African people or as Zimbabweans we must not be racist I think considering everyone as a human is the best way to curb racism … let us remove “black lives matter” and replace with “all lives matter” thank you.
Ok. Thank you so much. I think on this issue of racism taking into consideration in the Zimbabwean perspective, it matters what kind of a person are you. If you are a rich person then your life matters but if you are a poor person then your life doesn’t matter. For example lets take on the issue of this lockdown, we are seeing that the majority of the people because of this lockdown are suffering from poverty, are suffering from hunger and starvation, and they try by all means to find the source of income so that they can survive with their families but if those people go to some places which are being restricted by the government they can get even in trouble by the police or by the army which is not good. And at the end of the day some of the people can end up losing their lives. So it shows that even racism within the internal systems of the country is still perpetuating and is still evident. And I think that as Zimbabweans there are still a lot of steps that need to be taken into consideration for us to end this issue. Like the government needs to address the situation of economic crisis so as that the majority of the people will get food to survive, will get an income to survive with their families. At the end of the day this can help them. So that’s my short opinion on this issue of racism taking into consideration in the internal system of our county. Thank you.
Ya good afternoon guys, I personally have an opinion that this whole racism thing which has been affecting America in the past weeks or month, yes it really emanated from the issue to do with colonization and the whole slave trade thing. Yes, in as far as I am concerned America still renders themselves superior and they still feel that they are a superior race to such an extent that they continue to see the black man as a servant like in all scenarios. If you go to soccer there is no black coach in the English premier. Yes that is on the record. The way that black players in the English premier is just horrific, it’s just something else. You go back to this instance of America whereby George Floyd was killed, this other guy was shot, in as far as I am concerned black lives do not matter in America. The white community in America still has the slavery mentality, still want to treat their black brothers and sisters as their own slaves to such an extent that if an officer is going to try and bring a black man to book, that man or woman is going to be brought to book with a gun, fully loaded, pointing at her. It’s a different scenario in as far as if the white man or woman wants to be brought into book. So, that’s kind of like absurd, it’s kind of like crazy. In as far as I am concerned, we are living in the modern world, we are living in the 21st century, we shouldn’t be talking about racial discrimination, we shouldn’t be talking about racial segregation, we shouldn’t be talking about colour barring. So, America has a big cancer, in as far as I am concerned. The advent of Barrack Obama being the president gave us hope as Africans. We thought that no, since a black-American has assumed the role of president we were going to have a change of the whole administration but Barrack Obama just left a system that continues to kill and exploit his brothers and sisters so, in as far as I am concerned America’s system is just something else. It rings a bell to the whole world; it rings a bell to the whole world and the African continent that America needs to transform in as far as considering human rights. They are the ones who preach about human rights but America has failed to adhere to the human rights.
We have instances of Rwanda genocide, we have instances of Kenya, clashes of the Hutu and Tutsis – the Americans go on to call for order, they say this and that needs to go and be tried to the Hague, they say Mugabe was a human rights abuser he needs to go to the Hague. You go to the Osama Bin Ladens, the Sadam Hussains, Americans are behind all those trials. Yet them, themselves the Americans must be tried for killing the blacks. Racism must end, but America itself must get off from this horse they are riding. They feel that they are still superior. All these problems we are encountering in Africa as a continent 99% emanate from the Americans trying to penetrate and influence the African continent. So, in as far as Americans trying to see themselves and render themselves superior, they are just going to be a problem. Black lives do not matter in as far as I am concerned in the American context. I pray that one day a solution will come because our black brothers and sisters, our black forefathers who were did not go there on holiday, did not go there on their own, they went there in slave ships. Yes they went there in slave ships, remember the Indians failed to measure up to the kind of manual jobs that were available there during the slave trade so the black American was seen as an individual who was physically fit to try and fit into that whole scenario so, America must live what it preaches and preaches what it lives in as far as human rights are concerned. They must conform to these human rights protocols and instruments.
Zimbabwe was once colonised by Britain, and in the advent of us being free now, those who have assumed the position of being administrators and of running the country they themselves have turned into black oppressors, it’s black on black oppression now. So yes, the idea is emanating from the ‘I was once enslaved, I know how to enslave others.’ So all these challenges we have in Zimbabwe, continued arrests and exploitations of human rights abuses emanate from this theory whereby those who were castrated and tortured during the Rhodesian era, they say we know how it feels so in as far as these culprits are concerned give us a chance. They were tortured by the Rhodesian forces, so they are now doing it to the community.
This is so problematic to such an extent that all the nationalist movements that we have in Africa, they tend to be problematic in a way. We said to ourselves that now that we have got black brothers and sisters who have freed us from the oppressors we are now going to be free, no. It was just a replacement of the white skinned oppressors with the black skinned oppressors. The constitution of Zimbabwe has sections that entail that every individual has got a right to freedom of association, we’ve got a right to freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, but there are systems that hinder that to happen. People cannot associate anymore freely, so yes, as far as the presenters were trying to bring this issue to our knowledge, it seems like now we have got this new kind of racial discrimination but in terms of who are you within the community. If you are rich and well connected or politically connected then as far as this harassment you are spared. But if you are poor and have an opinion that differs from then then you are likely to be a victim. So, Zimbabwe needs to revise the laws that it has around human rights. Since the time of the late Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe has been lagging behind. Each and every individual who has been arrested has got a right to a fair trial. This whole torture and abduction thing continue to be a problems.
The confidence that people had during the nationalist movements during the time before independence is the confidence that people must still have today that no we are still safe. But no, we can’t be talking about this. So I feel that there is a need to address this situation maybe through civil society through written materials maybe, but in a peaceful manner. The Zimbabwean situation needs to be addressed amicably. So I feel that the racial discrimination that emanated from the white minority that once ruled Zimbabwe has spilled into our black leaders today. They have created a class of their own, they are untouchables.
Nepotism is now rife. So there is a strong link between the racial discrimination we once suffered during the Smith era and the continued hullabaloos that are going on in the Zimbabwean context. I believe that as Africans we can still reach a consensus whereby this whole thing must end. The state security must just be the state security, uniformed forces must just be uniformed forces not instrument of the oppressors. It’s a pity that the leaders we once entrusted with our life and our freedom have now turned to play looters and oppressors. The instance of having a constitution makes us a republic which means democracy must be a living thing. If that is ignored, then we have got a serious challenge.
But ladies and gentlemen, I continue to say, the Americans must not try and play the big brother role in as far as human rights are concerned as they themselves have failed. So I seriously believe that if we can have an nation within the African or SADC region to assist Zimbabwe. I am against Americans trying to say Zimbabweans must come to order, no, Zimbabwe will never come to order if they themselves the Americans are not coming to order.
In a way I try to say the late Robert Mugabe he was right – we have been oppressed for close to 90 to 100 years from 1890 to 1980, you do those sums comrade and you can see that those are plenty of years. We are under heavy racial discrimination, exploitation and ruthless laws of the Smith regime. For them the former colonizer to try and preach to us about human rights to me it’s just crazy, absurd and unacceptable. Americans must never say anything and the British must not say a word as far as human rights are concerned.
But in the same nutshell the Zimbabwean institution needs to be addressed. It is very fundamental that every individual must have his or her own rights. The individual must not be abused, harassed or victimized because he or she has outrightly spoken out about the choice where leadership is concerned. Each individual has their own personal interest so I don’t see any problem or challenge that must bring. So yes, when it comes to human rights Zimbabwe is still lagging behind. We have unsolved mysteries around the August killings, innocent civilians were shot. Even up to today some people still report about being abducted, some nurses were arrested just 3 days ago. You have no freedom of speech. So it’s more of freedom before speech but no freedom after the speech. Peaceful demonstrations reveal a kind of a caliber whereby we say yes, this country is fee and adheres to human rights. People must continue to demonstrate. I really laugh to myself and say there are no individuals who are going to protest for the whole month. People just come to your office, protest there for one hour or two then they will leave. They still have to tend to their homes. So there is no point in bundling up people, throwing them into the police vans and harassing them, they are still going to leave. After singing the toi-tois people still have to go to their homes. So the issue of abductions this must stop, the Constitution must be adhered to. What’s the point of having the Constitution if the government is aggressive upon the people who are practicing what the Constitution is saying. It’s a poor story that emanates from the colonial era itself. The master beats up the father at the farm, the father beats up the woman at home, the woman beats the child and the child beats the dog and the dog goes on to bite that cat. That same problem still lingers as far as Zimbabwe is concerned. So without being political, we are so far from reaching human rights. People just need to be free. Zimbabwean context needs to reform. An individual can’t be arrested for protesting, or for speaking what he thinks are sees necessary.
I can conclude by saying power itself corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. Steve Biko says the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. The oppressor will try and create a scenario where by he victimizes his victims already before they are even approached by the police or the soldiers. The victims are so afraid of the system that they just don’t want to try it. I personally believe that it’ll be better as individuals, as Africa, as the world over, as Zimbabweans to live for an idea that will not die. We would rather die for an idea that will not die.
Thank you. Strong words indeed.
Hama dzadiva. Tirikutoona tirikushupika muZimbabwe chaizvo. Mapurisa masoja are kudzivira kodzero redu isusu vagair vemuZimbabwe. Tirikurarama tiripasi pehutongo yekuchibharo kubudikidza napresident. Hupenyu hwaunoda iwho ndovavanoti ngatirarame isusu whavakararama pachisoja nguva yehondo. Nhasi unovadzosa vakati ngatiraramei iwhowho. Kanapainzi ngati fambei kubva kuHarare kuenda kuGweru panofambwa netsoka manguva yehondo, nazvino nanhasi varikuti isusu ngatifambei netsoka nguvaino kusvika ikoko. Chatinokumbira hakuna here mamwe mabato akaita seweUnited Nation wanotitsigirawo isusu marights edu isusu vana veZimbabwe. Kanakuti dzimwenyika dzopindirawo dzotibatsira dzitisunungure kubva munhapwa tofira kodzero yedu. Tikada kuti chitiri chino nechino, masoja anotumirwa opfura vanhu, mapurisa anotimirwa orova vanhu.
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Racism is still alive in Zimbabwe. Some whites in Zimbabwe are not interested in integrating into indigenous society. For example if a school once accommodated whites only as soon as black students enrol there, they remove their kids from that school and put them elsewhere or build their private and very expensive private schools so that black students don’t mix with their own children. Again whites don’t want to share social amenities with indigenous people; they want to have exclusive shops, restaurants, clubs, sports facilities that they can frequent without coming across black Zimbabweans. The whites in Zimbabwe need a serious shift in mindset. The colonial era is long gone and since they made a choice to make Zimbabwe their home; it is imperative to unlearn negative perceptions and feelings about indigenous Zimbabweans. That can be done through dissolving the “special white communities”, engaging in and taking a keen interest in local activities e.g. participating in many of the cultural and national events that Zimbabwe has to offer or just sitting down with their black neighbour for a conversation.