Friday, March 24, 2006

The W Word

There's a really good post on black prof called "The W Word." It begins:

"On Wednesday, March 22, 2006, NPR Morning Edition, a report titled “Zimbabwean Farmers Find a New Life in Nigeria” actually used the W word. White. Somehow, the report is a success story. It’s set up this way: “This next story is about white farmers in a majority black country. Zimbabwe’s white farmers were forced off their farms. It was part of an infamous land reform program instituted by President Robert Mugabe. Some of those farmers are getting a second chance in another African country.” And then the report begins with a proudly Zimbabwean voice: “What do you want to know? What can I tell you. It’s a lekker place, Nigeria. We are very happy. We are working ourselves to death.” The reporter `translates’ lekker as sweet, and omits to note the language is Afrikaans. This matters because near the end of the report, we are told that things are changing in this corner of Nigeria, but we’ll come to that in a bit.

A year ago thirteen white farmers moved, or fled, or according to the report `were wooed,’ from Zimbabwe to outside Shonga village, in Kwara State, west central Nigeria, and today they’re doing fine. With government subsidies and only “a handful of local farmers displaced”, they have set up farms of 2500 acres or so each. With direct and implied government assistance, modern technology, they now boast swimming pools and good harvests. Fortunately, they brought their Black Zimbabwean housekeepers, so, you know, it’s all good.

The Black Zimbabweans come into the picture as children, literally, singing a song in Shona, the majority language of Zimbabwe. It’s explained that the language and culture of Shonga, a Hausa speaking area, is encountering changes. For the Black Zimbabweans, in this instance Tapera Manyika, his wife Yeukai Sam, and their three daughters, life has improved. With less violence and a viable local currency, it’s all good." read more


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