I came across this video a week ago and I must admit that watching it got me a little hot under the collar. The way in which the video was put together got to me and some of the topics that got me upset included:
– mention of needing assistance for rent
– mention of not having eaten meat in a few weeks
– having access to a doctor who offers his services for free and provides them with medication (just to name a few). Part way through I literally yelled “WHAT ABOUT THE BLACK ZIMBABWEANS!?” and I started thinking about the millions who are facing starvation, a number of whom have no shelter and are unable to get medical treatment. “What about the black majority, where were they mentioned in the video?” that was on big question I had and I labelled the video as being racist. Yes, the elderly white people in the video may be in need of help but what about making it more inclusive? Yes, elderly white people are human and have the right to and should be provided with the necessities required to sustain life. Every one is entitled to that. I took offence to the way in which the video was presented and think it could have been presented in a better way and the idea of it being racist kept swirling in my mind.
I started a thread on a forum (click here) to see what people thought about the video and there were a number of people who were clearly quite upset about it and thought that the elderly white people were getting what they deserved. Some even went as far as to say they were getting off lightly and deserved a whole lot worse. There were some people who had different opinions and one that really caught my attention was a person who has tried to help people in the Mashonaland region. He stated that when he has tried to assist in non-white circles has had his efforts viewed upon with a lot of suspicion and had been told he was trying to subvert the people. This doesn’t make reaching certain groups easy for white people who are then not really left with much of a choice but to channel their efforts to where they are effective and appreciated. He went on to say that it is not all blacks who are like that because there are those who welcome aid openly.
A comment that someone else made was a lot of people regardless of colour would be starving were it not for outside support and that in African cultures, children support their parents and less fortunate family members, a practise not common in the Eurocentric culture. The elderly white people may be getting ignored by their children which leaves them in the same boat as many of the Zimbabweans who have nothing.
Text at the end of the video stated that, “hunger in Africa has always been a concern. A problem being addressed for the masses by donor organizations, government help programs and NGO institutions. There is a group of people that fell through the cracks, and do not receive ANY of this help or funding. They are the elderly white people living in Zimbabwe. Life is hunger, destitution and being forgotten if you are old and white living in Zimbabwe.” In my original state, that was something I did not pay attention to on the day I first watched the video. That has played a part in changing the way I view Catherine Sargant and the people of the Bulawayo Help Network. All they are trying to is help people which is commendable and I do need to apologise to Catherine for abusive comments I made.
The comments made by people who were supportive of the efforts of the Bulawayo Help Network also played a part in changing my perceptions. Being Black, White, Coloured, Indian or whatever does not make you immune to the crisis in Zimbabwe. What the network is trying to do is help a group of people who happen to be white and there is nothing wrong with that. If they don’t get help they too will become a statistic of a government that doesn’t have the interests of its people at heart. The anger that I felt may have been a lot of misdirected anger. During the past week I have been thinking about how things in Zimbabwe would be if people were willing to and able to change their perceptions which may be otherwise distorted?
If you feel inclined to help the Bulawayo Help Network, do whatever you can to do so:
Bulawayo Help Network
phone/fax +263 965 383
phone +263 928 1340
mobile +263 116 302 04
email: byohelp[at]netconnect[dot]co[dot]zw, southcom[at]netconnect[dot]co[dot]zw