Is anyone else tuned in to the Zimbabwe election results? Probably not too many Americans are. Zimbabwe is in Africa, so we're always keen to turn a blind eye to most problems on that continent. Unless they're being loudly championed by a number of celebrities, that is. Then we'll make a donation, put a bumper sticker on our car and feel we've done something. Not to be cynical, but I'm guessing an awful lot of Americans couldn't find Zimbabwe on a map. For their reference, it's in Southern Africa, north of South Africa, east of Botswana, south of Zambia and west of Mozambique.
People in Zimbabwe aren't being slaughtered or rendered homeless there like in Darfur, but they've had a despot in power for decades who has taken what was once the breadbasket of Africa and used its resources for his own personal gain (and that of his government ministers) and left the country, its industry and agriculture and its people in shambles. The inflation rate is 100,000%, and no, that's not a typo. There is no food on the shelves at grocery stores, no fuel at the petrol stations and no money to buy what few items can be found.
I was there earlier this year and at that time, a $750,000 note (the largest in circulation at the time) wouldn't buy you a loaf of bread. People were standing outside of the bank for days at a time trying to get some of their own money. We tipped everyone in US cash, as their own currency is of course utterly useless. The 'official' government exchange rate is $30,000 ZIM to $1 USD, however the black market exchange rate is more like $3,000,000 ZIM to $1 USD. Our hotel incidentals bill (drinks, food, postcards, etc) was over $9M ZIM at the official exchange rate. That was sobering.
Let me step back for one minute here and say that if you are considering a vacation to Africa, at least think about visiting Zimbabwe. I can't think of a place on earth where your hard earned cash spent in their shops, hotels, restaurants, etc. would make more of a difference. Unless there is violent fallout from the elections (let's hope not!), Victoria Falls at least is a very safe place to visit. I don't think I'd go to Harare, but VF is just fine.
I keep praying that that tyrant Robert Mugabe will allow a 'fair' election and they will vote the evil man out of office after 28 increasingly horrible years. At this point it does not look good. So say a prayer, cross your fingers, do a dance in tribute to whomever or whatever you believe in and send the positive karmic energy across the world to people that really could use your hope.