IMER-student James Morrison-Knight shares photos from his travel in Zimbabwe and interviews his friend Tawanda Maviga about his hopes for his home country in the aftermath of the coup against former president Robert Mugabe.
What brought you to Sweden, and how long have you been living outside of Zimbabwe?
My name is Tawanda and I am a student at the Global Political Studies department at Malmö University. I arrived in Sweden in July 2014 from the United Kingdom where I had been living for over a decade, having moved there from Zimbabwe. My girlfriend, who is Swedish, played a big role in me coming to Sweden. When she enrolled in university in Sweden, I decided to apply too, enticed by the free education mode, coupled by the excitement of learning a new language. In all, I have been living outside Zimbabwe for 17 years.
How did you feel when the coup against Mugabe was announced?
Last November, Zimbabweans and the world woke up to the news that the military had usurped power from Robert Mugabe, after 37 years […] I was one of those who welcomed the army, who stood up to their Commander in Chief and told him he had to go. Some of us were born and only knew Mugabe as the leader of Zimbabwe, and the stories that parents told pointed to a deteriorating situation during his rule. The coup was a welcome development, demonstrated by the celebrations of Zimbabweans of different backgrounds.
What is the most exciting prospect you see for the future of Zimbabwe and its people?
The new President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, seems intent on doing better than his old boss. This could be exactly what the people of Zimbabwe need: in trying to impress, he will hopefully fix some critical problems, such as the crippling cash shortages, high unemployment and restoring the rule of law. It is still early days, but it is encouraging that the new president has declared that Zimbabwe is willing to work with the world.
You just returned from Zimbabwe, what were your impressions of how people have responded to the recent developments?
One of the most noticeable things that struck me was the absence of police roadblocks, which had become notorious in recent years […] In 2016, on my last visit, the road from the airport to my parents’ house, a stretch of 15 km, was littered with police roadblocks, but this time there was not a single roadblock in sight. The cab driver seemed pleased as he narrated this to me. This is but one of the many stories of hope I heard on my recent trip to Zimbabwe. I felt a widespread air of optimism and hope. Only time will tell if this optimism will transform to a better life for the long-suffering citizens of Zimbabwe.
How connected do you feel to Zimbabwe currently, and do you see yourself returning in the future?
Zimbabwe has a special place in my heart. I was born there, spent my formative years there, I am Zimbabwean first and foremost. I look at myself as a transnational, someone who maintains ties with both his country of birth and his adopted country. I am deeply invested in the dream of creating a better Zimbabwe, evidenced by the fact that I am currently building myself a house there. I definitely see myself returning in the future, to play my role in making a better country for future generations of Zimbabweans.
By James Morrison-Knight
James Morrison-Knight, All Rights Reserved