Fifteen years ago, in a small country, nearly a million people died. In ten months. Three thousand of them a day. Violent, gory, gruesome, horrific deaths. Swords, spears and daggers butchered them, cut their bodies, disfigured their faces. Few had the luxury of a swift bullet.

When the blood dried, one in every eight Rwandans lay dead.

Years later we justified our silence and our inaction, we assuaged our guilt, we consoled the bereaved with the excuse that we did not know, we had no idea how bad it was while the genocide was on.

But what will we say to Zimbabwe? We have not only known, our editors and analysts have vied with each other to predict how bad it could become. Yet we stand and watch. We say it is Africa’s problem, that the continent’s struggling and barely stable neighbours should help each other. We find an easy scapegoat in Mbeki. He’s a readymade villain already tainted by his theories on AIDS.

The truth is that we don’t care. Zimbabwe has nothing to offer us. Certainly no oil. Not even coffee. Or cocoa. For those we loot other Africans.

Their real estate has no value. They haven’t heard anyone say: location, location, location. They aren’t neighbours with China. Or Russia. Or even Venezuela.

Their bombs are primitive, not good enough to do more than kill and maim a few hundred at a time. Their guns are from European landfills. Not flashy. Not nuclear. Not worth the trouble of taking away.

And oh, they are black. Silly of them. If they were brown, we might have considered looking in their direction. Doing a little more than filling newspaper op-eds with their story. If they were yellow, we might have talked to their leaders. Perhaps sent in the UN.

And if they were white, our armies would be there already.

Oh we know your blood is red, but we can’t see it. It hides beneath your clotted skin.


One response to “Zimbabwe

  1. It is gory and very sad. But then imagine, the farmers of India have nothing to offer to the rest of India… oh, they are black, silly of them. … we all have been justifying our silence for so long now…. it is said in the Tirukkural that even if one farmer goes hungry to bed, the entire country has to do penance.. imagine here that there have been over 11,000 suicides of farmers in less than 10 years, it still continues… and what are we doing about it? I am an Indian Tamil, I can only first think of what am I to say to my land’s farmers. It is very gory and sad for them, and it did not happen 15 years ago. Many of the things mentioned here applies to them too, but differently. It is happening now and has been for the last 10 years or more. Every morsel of food I eat I remember that a farmer is perhaps killing himself somewhere in the country, and it is my failing that I have not been able to do anything more than send a few pidldling mails about it to my mailing list and read the news and feel sad and scared.

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