The Real Tragedy in Zimbabwe

In one of the most famous instances of “herd mentality”, a family feud in 1692 morphed into mass hysteria, political rhetoric, and the public executions of twenty people in Salem Village, Massachusetts. It seems a pattern that society in unable to break away from, as the Internet and today’s media continue to enable the public’s insatiable desire for a witch hunt.

Here’s a few things you might not know about Zimbabwe. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, and growing poorer. Due to record drought it’s believed that 23% of cultivated land will fail to produce crop in 2015. The Famine Early Warning Network estimates that 20% of households are in danger of facing acute malnutrition. Unemployment is a staggering 80%.

According to UNICEF, Zimbabwe is home to 1.3 million orphans, 100,000 of these living on their own. 570,00 have been orphaned due to the AIDS virus, with 150,000 of them infected themselves. Sexual abuse and child labor are rampant.

The country’s complete economic and societal collapse has occurred under the brutal dictatorship of Robert Mugabe, who’s been “president” since leading a rebel group against white minority rule in 1987. He immediately turned Zimbabwe into a one-party state, established the Fifth Brigade, a security force trained by North Korea, and murdered at least 20,000 people in attempts at ethnic cleansing and consolidation of power.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Mugabe, but I’d bet you recognize the name of Dr. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist currently in hiding, fearing for his now ruined life. He’s the guy that killed Cecil, prized African lion. I personally don’t agree with trophy hunting, where the only goal seems to be to hunt animals deemed “exotic” in your country of origin. If he was my dentist, I’d probably consider taking my business elsewhere.  I wouldn’t call for his immediate death and dismemberment.

Dr Palmer paid $50,000 for his licensed hunt with professional local guides that should have know better. This type of expedition brings 20 million dollars a year to impoverished Zimbabwe. All meat is required by law to be given to local tribes and villages.

Instead of using this unfortunate incident to educate about the real problems in Zimbabwe, the media has helped perpetuate sensationalism, feeding an apparent societal need to instead burn somebody at the stake. Another embarrassing example of misplaced priorities in a seemingly unending stream of them.

Anybody that really wants to make a difference in Zimbabwe is encouraged to click on this link. It won’t bring you to a petition to end trophy hunting or to an anonymous hotline to report sightings of the elusive dentist, but to a page on savethechildren.org .

I worry about raising my children in a world where people receive their news based on the most tantalizing headline. Where Facebook mobs grab their virtual torches and chase down perceived witches at every opportunity. We should have learned these lessons by now.

 

06-22-2015Child_Report

 

photo via un.org

 

22 thoughts on “The Real Tragedy in Zimbabwe”

  1. I like your post. No, I am not educated (until now) about Zimbabwe. I did read the article and strongly disagree with trophy hunting. To me, it’s senseless killing just so some stupid human can prove he or she can hunt and kill an animal stronger than them. That kind of attitude is what leads people to believe they can do whatever the hell they want because they think they can get away with it. For me, its about right and wrong. However, while I do believe he should stand trial for his crimes, I don’t believe we should dismember him. We don’t dismember child molesters and to me, those are the WORST sort of people out there. The dentist did something wrong and should pay the consequences for that. Too many people today do bad things because there are no consequences anymore. I do appreciate your post and educating me on this country, whose humans are struggling way more than the wildlife. I just strongly believe in respecting all of this planet’s creatures (even spiders. I’m not a fan of spiders).

    1. I do agree that there should be some sort of punishment. I’m just amazed at the level of hate being directed towards this guy

  2. I dunno, I’m sure more people have heard of Robert Mugabe than Dr. Walter Palmer.

    I also don’t think we can lay this all on just ‘the media’ – it’s a 2-way relationship. Judging by the stories I see shared, more people are concerned about the welfare of animals they’ve never met than people, and that’s why issues like this flare up.

    1. I hope you’re right Simon, but I’d bet you’d be surprised. And I agree, the media is feeding people what they want. It would just be nice if they could sneak a little substance in there every once in a while

  3. I agree so strongly with this post. With the internet we have given mob mentality an anonymous, unaccountable, international life of its own. Its like school bullying gone mad. I’m worried about the destructive repercussions which could theoretically happen to anyone at anytime about anything. The huge negative to a resource I love and use daily.

    #anythinggoes

  4. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I’m also a hunter. I think trophy hunting is a little weird, but I don’t really care if other people want to do it. I like to hunt things I can eat – deer, squirrel, rabbit, fowl, etc.

    That being said, this Palmer guy didn’t harvest the meat at all. They chopped off the head and left the carcass to rot. I don’t really feel bad for the abuse he’s receiving now. What a waste.

    1. I just think the abuse is overboard. I’m a meat eater also, and prefer something fresh whenever I can get it. It seems that most of the uproar is coming from either people who are fundamentally against hunting in any form, or people that see a majestic lion and are mad because everybody else seems to be mad.

  5. I don’t understand how that one lion was special, but the fact he paid that amount to hunt an endangered species, that’s ok. Just he should have chosen one that didn’t have a name.
    And you’re right about Mugabe. He’s been driving Zimbabwe into the ground for decades and shows no sign of waning. That’s what we should be outraged about!

    1. If the Lion didn’t have a name, or it was an endangered snake, nobody would have ever heard about this story. People get mad about what they are told to be mad about.

  6. A knee-jerk initial response to your post would possibly be anger and outrage, but yes the real tragedies are that majestic lions; rhinos; elephants are hunted all the time in Zimbabwe and South Africa – they just don’t have a name and a collar tagging their whereabouts and of course the other tragedy is that the starving millions don’t get to benefit from the hunt or the meat discarded. Although it still doesn’t take away the savagery of leaving a living creature to bleed to death with excruciating pain
    Great post though and thanks for linking up with #ShowcaseTuesday linky

    1. I don’t think poaching and hunting animals to extinction isn’t an important topic to be discussed, I just wanted to remind everyone that those children all have names also. There should be enough to be angry about in Zimbabwe without the focus being on the individual guy that pulled the trigger in this case

      1. Totally agree with you – perhaps did not come across that way in comment, too many nameless creatures in Zimbabwe – animals and lions and other creatures. Lets hope Cecil The Lion did not die in vain and people take note of all the nameless tragedies in that country

        1. I understood what you were saying. It’s possible that I came across callous about the animals, which I’m not. I get frustrated when I see people changing their profile pictures to lions when there is so much more that they are oblivious to.

  7. This is a sad situation for man and animal and I too believe that the media has too strong an influence over individuals who may not have the will, want or education to scratch the surface and ask what is behind this headline. Mugabe is a horrid man who has hurt and changed the life trajectory of so many people. Thanks for putting the spotlight onto these issues of which I think there are many. Mel xx #ShowcaseTuesday

  8. We were in South Africa when this story broke so chatted this over with people with first hand knowledge of things. Apparently two thirds of the Zimbabwean population have fled, many to South Africa as things for ordinary people are so bad. Loads of pro-democracy activists have disappeared. If they’d, and the terrible regime, got half the publicity internationally that Cecil got, things might be better. Mugabe and his regime are truely evil.

    I was chatting to a mate about why Mandela is so venerated. I think one of the reasons that people look at the neighbours and realise that Mandela had been like Mugabe, South Africa would be a total mess.

    Excellent post! That I will be sharing. Thank you

    1. Thanks for the additional information. There seems to be a total lack of knowledge here in the States about what goes on in most of Africa. Its embarrassing

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