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COMMENT: What getting a degree in Zimbabwe actually means.

11th December 2017 Posted by: Joy Moloi

AFTER 37 years of autocratic rule, Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe's President on Tuesday the 21st November.  Mugabe chose to succumb to the military and avoid the humiliation of impeachment despite refusing to step down under pressure initially. During the period of uncertainty, many students in the country staged boycotts during their exams to protest against the leadership crisis and dismal employment prospects. Our writer Joy Molio, investigates what this means for Zimbabwe and people studying there. 

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Robert Mugabe

Those weeks ago saw a nation rejoice, people were delighted and happy when former president Robert Mugabe announced his resignation. Never, ever did this nation see or perhaps believe that one day a ruler who had power for nearly 40 years would come to an end.

I watched as many were cheering, dancing, it was everywhere on the news. I watched a man being interviewed on one of our local television news channels and as the interview carried on, in just a few seconds he was in tears, crying tears of joy and the words  ‘I can’t believe I am alive to see this day’. This made me want to cry because for me that’s what it means to be revolutionary and fight for what you want, and once you have travelled the path and reached the end of the journey you rejoice, you cry and you are so grateful for life at that moment.

This is how many Zimbabweans felt, for them, it means an end to senseless rule,  it means an end to poverty and the hope that greatness has arrived.

Being from South Africa, there are many immigrants in the country, many of them being from Zimbabwe.They come here for jobs, for food and for potentially a better way of life. They happen to just be about everywhere and it is easy to construct a conversation with them. Be it in restaurants serving you, at the gym helping you out or most importantly for African women, people doing their hair.

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For Students to protest before former president Robert Mugabe resigned, was a radical and fundamental move. History has shown that students have the voice and dynamism to change how a country is run, their voices meant ‘the voice of the future’. Students were tired of working towards degrees that will never be recognised anywhere in the world, and most importantly in their home country, students were exasperated because they were studying for their degrees, in hope of obtaining a job later on in life, but with a bleak economy that could never be possible.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, amongst young people. In fact, I was once at a restaurant with a friend of mine, and the waiter who served us was such a friendly man. My friend and I decided to have a conversation with him, and from this conversation the only thing I remember is that he said he has a PHD from the University of Zimbabwe, we were obviously shocked, (I mean what would a PHD student be doing working as a waiter?). He explained how terrible the situation in Zimbabwe is and how there is barely enough food to even feed people.

This one story is many stories of what many young graduates are facing in Zimbabwe. This kind of protest reminds me of the kind of radical transformation students played in South Africa in 1976 against the apartheid rule. This protest also reminds me what role students played in America regarding segregation amongst African Americans.

One can say that the Zimbabwean students’ revolt played a significant factor that led Robert Mugabe to finally resign. This means great change for the country and an optimistic future for students.


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