Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sarcoma for dictators

When it was early in this whole thing and L. and I were repeatedly lamenting the unfairness of it all -- why me? why not? damn you, cruel and indifferent universe! -- we more than once speculated about who we would give the sarcoma to, if only we could. I didn't think through the ethics of the transfer, but my base criteria were that the person needed to be really bad and giving them an incurable illness had to have the potential of making life better for other people. I considered war criminal Dick Cheney; Sudan's Bashir; Kim Jong Il; the guy in Uzbekistan who boils people alive and a few others. At that time, I decided that Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe was about the most deserving person I could think of for my epithelioid sarcoma.

Samantha Power wrote in a 2005 issue of The Atlantic:
The country's economy in 1997 was the fastest growing in all of Africa; now it is the fastest shrinking. A onetime net exporter of maize, cotton, beef, tobacco, roses, and sugarcane now exports only its educated professionals who are fleeing by the tens of thousands. Although Zimbabwe has some of the richest farmland in Africa, children with distended bellies have begun arriving at school looking like miniature pregnant women.

How could the breadbasket of Africa have deteriorated so quickly into the continent's basket case? The answer is Robert Mugabe, now seventy-nine, who by his actions has compiled something of a "how-to" manual for national destruction.

Things got a lot worse from there. The inflation rate in the country is now something like 66,000 percent.

But Zimbabwe held elections recently, and Mugabe's party has lost the Parliament. There may be runoff for the presidency, and it may be brutal, but perhaps not. I'm hoping that the dictator's disastrous reign will soon be at an end.

Update: Damnit, the reporter who wrote the story linked above was arrested during a Mugabe crackdown. This isn't exactly putting me back into love for humanity and reverence for life mode.

1 comment:

pat said...

was it the cooking? I expect you to be home-tired but home. Something to be thankful for and I am. You are an amazing writer and I have the privilage of an interesting prospective on your thoughts