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Friday, April 18, 2008

Now we are Zimbabwe

This image is even further back -- November 11, 1965 -- when Ian Smith unilaterally declared Rhodesia's independence. I was 12 years old. Thirteen years later, at 25, I travelled to Rhodesia and spent 18 months there observing the transition to Zimbabwe.

Twenty-eight years ago today, preparing to return home, I picked up a copy of the Bulawayo Chronicle, where I had been employed for the previous 18 months. It's headline read: "Now we are Zimbabwe", commemorating the country's independence and and freedom after 13 years of white minority rule (and previous years as a British colony or self-governing territory.)

That evening, having hitched a last-minute flight with the International Press Corps to Salisbury (now Harare), I celebrated my own independence. I had discovered myself as an adult, as I realized, just before my 27th birthday, that I would enjoy a fulfilling life with love and security.

It is ironic that tomorrow night marks the beginning of the Jewish Passover, the celebration of freedom from slavery, as the people of Zimbabwe contend with the worst inflation in the world and a president, Robert Mugabe, who has not aged gracefully.

So, you say, what does this have to do with Construction Marketing? Nothing directly but much indirectly. Decisions made earlier in our lives shape our choices and values; our perspectives and outlook on the future. I realize now more than ever that my decision to fulfill a youthful drive for adventure and exploration have given me the perspective and experience to respect others, to understand different values, and to reach for higher goals and dreams.

I'm looking forward to returning to Zimbabwe in a couple of years with my family, when things have returned to a degree of stability, and the Zimbabweans have again discovered their freedom for their future.

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