A NEW ZIMBABWE (YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT) - DAY 5
Today 12+ million Zimbabweans woke up to their first morning without RGM in charge for more than 37 years... 37 years - that's a friggin lifetime for most Zimbos! And it's no coincidence that today was the first clear, blue-skied morning for the past week. Clear & fresh, blue & new... unlike most of us it must be said who were a little worse for wear this morning after being up till all hours of the night enjoying one of the best street parties the world has ever seen... I remind you, 37 years... you can just imagine how the release manifested itself in the thousands and thousands who poured onto the streets around the world to celebrate.
On Saturday the people of Zim broke the fear barrier into pieces; last night they built a Castle of Hope out of the rubble... a monument to collective change through non-violent resistance to a status quo that was not - for lack of a better word - GOOD.
There have been a flood of posts & images giving those who weren't here a taste of what last night was all about in Zim - and I will share one of my favorites directly after this from our very own NoViolet Bulawayo - but for me there was one thing that stood out most yesterday, both before & after the announcement. People finally felt they had a voice. People had the most important of freedoms, that most essential of human rights - that of their word & their expression... and geez did they express themselves!
Like the hundreds of ordinary citizens scribbling their hopes & dreams for a New Zimbabwe on some colored cards featured on a expressive art piece in Unity Square. Or the chap draped in a flag standing on the roof of a truck spraying champagne - something he could hardly have afforded to buy if it were even available - all over the crowds below, his turn to be a rock star or a formula one champ. Or listening to countless personal stories over the course of the day and night - from tragic tales of loss & torture, to hope-filled words around their various versions of the future in the New Zimbabwe. Or the old mbuya who just stood in the middle of the street next to me smiling from ear to ear, tears streaming down her cheeks, eyes ablaze with whoknowswhat... Expression comes in many forms, and last night out on the streets of Harare, Bulawayo, Vic Falls, Joburg & more - millions of Zimbabweans expressed their joy, their relief, their shock, their hopes, their history & their future through song, dance, cheers, screams, silent teary smiles & outpourings of love. The scenes can only be believed in situ - hence the complete spamming of the social media channels by those that were there to try and share a little slice of what it felt like to be part of this purging, this expressive release of (yes - here I go again...) 37 years of life oppressed.
The various goosebump glimpses that were revealed during last night's revelry - little glimpses of how humans can actually figure their shit out if they really dig down deep... were like the lights going on in the newly built Castle of Hope - lights of green, red, yellow, black & white... lights that made your heart expand in your chest as you briefly - just for a few seconds at a time - believed that all is not lost for our species. Perhaps we can make it out of this mess after all... not just in Zim, but all over the planet...
So that's the now - the joy, the beginning of freedom (which should always start with freedom of speech, surely?), the expression of human unity & spirit, the dancing, the screaming, the tears & the revelry.
What tomorrow brings us here in Zim, or even later today is unknown. But those who live here, and who have been part of this fantastical, fairy-tale week in Zimbabwe... those who hugged & heaved last night... those who marched on Saturday... they'll tell you that things here will not change overnight. They will not have jobs tomorrow. They will not have a working economy in the next week or month or probably even year. But they have their Voice now. They have the freedom to be able to say NO. To be able to decide, to choose the path(s) to goodness. To correct & even lead the way forward. If the new interim president & government has even an iota of understanding of what has happened in Zim this past week, they'll ensure that this upwelling of the common people is recognized for what it is...
So no, I don't believe the next lot will be perfect. I don't believe that life will improve materially overnight for anyone here in Zim. But I do believe that the military & the interim leadership of Zimbabwe will continue to nurture this non-violent, typically Zimbabwean spirit, and things will change. The people have spoken, and you better believe it...