For those of you who don't know Zimbabwe is the former Rhodesia, which was up until 1980 ruled by its white minority. Robert Mugabee(sp) led a successful revolt and promised liberation for the masses. Twenty five years later he now rules the country with an iron fist. Poverty is rampant, decease flourishes(1 in 3 Zimbabwian is H.I.V. positive) and their future is bleak. Political opposition and the press are forcefully suppressed and elections are a fraud. As most governments refuse to endorse the current regime foreign aid is non existent and the countries fortunes continue to spiral downwards.
Mugabee has promised that these elections will be open and fair, and there are some signs that steps have been taken in this direction. Overt violence against opposition parties has been non-existent, and political opponents have been allowed to openly campaign for the first time. But covertly the threats are still there. The media are still tightly controlled by the rulers, the voters list contains a million names which are either dead or duplicates, the opposition has no access to electronic versions of the list and has been forced to go door to door in order to discern who is actually entitled to vote, and finally the president himself has branded any who run against him as traitors to Zimbabwe.
Against this background Ms. Williams and her people stage non-violent protests, sit-ins and demonstrations, work to educate people about their rights all against the wishes of the government. When asked about if the atmosphere of this election differed then the last ones, she replied that for the political parties maybe, but for activists like herself no. Laughingly she said she had not been able to go home for a month because of fear of arrest.
I live in such a different world, I worry about whether or not I can afford things, not meals. I have food, shelter, ready medical attention. I never have to fear that expressing my opinions will result in me disappearing with no one knowing where I've gone to.(At least not yet, but here in Canada I feel quite safe, no too much further south I'd be starting to worry) Yet these people don't seem to think of themselves as doing anything special. They see a need and they fill it. They see a problem and they try and fix it no matter the danger to themselves. Whether in Zimbabwe or elsewhere these people put me to shame. Because honestly I don't know how I would do in those situations.
One final note about these soldiers of freedom. Have you ever noticed how the bravest and humblest of them are almost always women, and how that when you hear them speak they sound just like you and me and not like a politician. But the majority of men seem to always have an agenda that they don't want you to know about in the same situation. Something to think about and remember. If you pray, maybe remember these people in your thoughts, they are our best hope.