Cholera Epidemic in Zimbabwe

As if Zimbabwe didn’t have enough trouble with their food crisis, hyperinflation (there are now plans to issue $1 million dollar banknotes), a broken health care system, and the corrupt political leadership of their president, Robert Mugabe, now a cholera epidemic has broken out and the country has neither the will nor the wherewithal to contain it.

U.S. President George Bush has recently joined a chorus of world leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, in calling for an end to Mugabe’s rule.  The Zimbabwean government has countered by blaming the outbreak on a “biological chemical war” — yes, that’s right, “biological chemical” — being waged against them by Western governments bent on the ouster of Mugabe. 

Check out these articles from MSNBC and the London Times online.

If you’re interested in Zimbabwe, the library may have some books for you.  Try some of the following:  House of Stone:  The True Story of a Family Divided in War-torn Zimbabwe by Christina Lamb; When a Crocodile Eats the Sun:  A Memoir of Africa by Peter Godwin; Casting with a Fragile Thread:  A Story of Sisters and Africa by Wendy Kann; and Scribbling the Cat:  Travels with an African Soldier and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight:  An African Childhood, both by Alexandra Fuller. 

These titles should provide some contextual background for Zimbabwe’s many years of oppressive colonial rule, context that helps to explain events there in more recent years, such as Mugabe’s harsh land reform measures, which have in turn been blamed for the country’s food crisis.

Please remember that you can also search Facts on File for stories about Zimbabwe.  All you need is the barcode number from your Greensboro Public Library card.

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2 Responses

  1. Why is the Greensboro Public Library involving itself in the politics of Zimbabwe? Doesn’t this post indicate that “Zimbabwe’s many years of oppressive colonial rule” are the cause of all of the country’s current problems? Even cholera? Does the library intend to begin taking positions on local, state and national politics as well? Will we see suggestions for book titles supporting certain political positions in these areas? It certainly won’t come as a surprise to me.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Bledsoe. But I take issue with the statement that the post is “involving [Greensboro Public Library] in the politics of Zimbabwe.” First, that Zimbabwe was subjected to “many years of oppressive colonial rule” is factual, not political. I do not think it is even debatable. Clearly Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, was colonized and exploited for its land, minerals, labor, etc., by the West, most notably under Cecil Rhodes and the British South Africa Company in the late 19th century. The material exploitation of the country was in turn supported by racist ideas, then well accepted, about the inferiority of the African peoples (e.g., Social Darwinism). Secondly, I clearly did not say, nor would I say, as you did, that colonialism was “the cause of all of the country’s current problems.” What I did say was that the context of colonialism “helps to explain” Zimbabwe under Mugabe. It seems to me to be common sense (as well as sound method used by historians) to place events in their historical context and relate them to one another. This is what I attempted to do. Lastly, the purpose of discussing current events in this blog is not to take political positions, but rather to inform our patrons about resources which may help them follow the news. Certainly it’s possible to find politics virtually everywhere and in all forms of expression. My desire was to compose a balanced post which was both critical of Mugabe but considerate of the historical circumstances which gave rise to him. Anyway, thanks again for your comment.

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