Things are shaking in Zimbabwe these days. Long-simmering dissatisfaction with the 36-year regime of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party is boiling over in a whole new way. One important catalyst was a simple homemade video posted on YouTube on April 19. The title is “This Flag—A Lament for Zimbabwe.” It’s a spoken-word piece, just under five minutes, posted by Pastor Evans Mawarire using the hashtag #ThisFlag. The pastor wears the flag of Zimbabwe around his shoulders, and simply pours his heart out into the camera. Have a look.
The pastor’s simple eloquence managed to uncork a flood of emotion from Zimbabweans around the world. #ThisFlag has since grown into a movement. For years, Zimbabweans have been afraid to speak out against the regime for fear of recrimination. The catch phrase of the new movement seems to be, “We’re not afraid anymore.” Demonstrations, supportive YouTube videos, protests and other expressions of discontent are finding new traction. Just today (Aug. 26) Zimbabwean police fired tear gas on hundreds of protesters in Harare, leading to what Reuters called “one of the worst outbreaks of violence in Zimbabwe in two decades.”
On Sept. 21, Mugabe is scheduled to address the U.N. in New York. Despite apparently failing health, the 92-year-old leader has shown no sign of backing down or exiting the scene as #ThisFlag and other movements now demand. During that week, protests are planned in New York City. Pastor Mawarire is expected to be on hand, as is the Lion of Zimbabwean music, Thomas Mapfumo. Watch this space for details.