THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 24, 2007
Of all the horrific news to have emerged from Zimbabwe over the past several years, this account is especially painful to read. When a giraffe wandered onto the outskirts of Harare, citizens rushed to the scene threatening to kill and eat it. Read the stories. It is like a scene from a dystopian horror film.
Protection of wildlife is a worthy concern. But what ultimately makes this event so sad is not the condition of rare species (which is a tragedy unto itself) but the desperate condition to which people have been reduced. This was a country that less than a decade ago supplied wheat to the whole of southern Africa. Now people eat mice.
And as these people starve, the man who causes their misery, Robert Mugabe, will be in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly, along with his loathsome wife Grace ("I only wear Ferragamo"). He owes the U.N. much, of course, as Zimbabwe was elected to head the world organization's committee on sustainable development earlier this year. Yes, sustainable development. It was Africa's turn to choose the body's chairman and African leaders once again put their obsolete, pan-Africanist pride above the common humanity of their fellow Africans.
To his credit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is showing some spine by refusing to attend an upcoming European Union summit on Africa should Mugabe also appear (he has been invited in an apparent waiver of a travel ban placed on him and 130 other Zimbabwean government officials). Maybe Lee Bollinger could learn a lesson.