Category Archives: Mugabe, Robert

Many men hate what they admire

This is so, writes Dalrymple,

especially when they admire it from afar and it is unattainable for a long time. When they are in a position to do so, therefore, they both imitate and destroy, crushing with delectation those who kept them for so long from the enjoyment of what they admired. They revenge themselves on those whom they envied and admired.

Dalrymple avers that humiliation is

a much-underestimated factor in the revolt against colonialism, and the history of both anti-colonialism and post-colonialism.

As is so often the case with revolts, those who led the revolt in Africa

were not themselves the worst off, far from it; they were the educated few who, instead of being incorporated into the colonial élite as partners, as they thought their due, were daily humiliated by people whom they believed to be their inferiors.

To many a colonial white,

an African with a doctorate would still be a boy, in the technical colonial sense of the word, merely by virtue of his race. A white would often speak disdainfully of Africans in front of them, even though he knew the Africans understood his language. I do not think that Ian Smith was personally so insensitive, but many of the people who elected him were.

Dalrymple notes that this type of repeated and often daily humiliation

is a wound that very rarely heals. (I am not sure I would ever have got over it had I experienced it. I rather think I would not.) It is all the worse when you admire the people who are humiliating you by constant small humiliations that demonstrate that they do not consider you their equal, or even fully human.

Small humiliations of this type

are worse than great but abstract injustices. It is humiliation, in my belief, and not the unjust distribution of land, that galled Mugabe and gave rise to his Comrade side.

Joy to all Zimbabweans

If anyone needed to be reminded, writes Dalrymple, of how fragile and temporary be the exercise of power, and how changeable be courtiers and flatterers, especially of dictators,

he could not do better than look at the website of the Bulawayo Chronicle. On November 10, one of its main stories was the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Harare International Airport’s change of name to the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, a process presided over by His Excellency Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe himself, who ‘reiterated his gratitude on behalf of himself, his family and the entire country [for] the honour bestowed on him, saying it has brought joy to all Zimbabweans.’

Dalrymple is reminded of Cardenal’s poem Somoza desveliza la estatua de Somoza en el Estadio Somoza.

Dalrymple in North Korea

The DPRK: the ne plus ultra of contemporary political deformity (before, that is, the epidemic of Islamism)

Footage of an apparently uniformed doctor-writer from about 31:18 and again from about 32:32 (at which he point he is holding a camera).

Dalrymple is seen looking upon the spectacle with, to put it mildly, some scepticism. Among the speakers is Robert Mugabe. We know that later in the proceedings Dalrymple refused to stand or applaud at the appearance of the Dear Leader: ‘There I sat; I could do no other.’ The doctor-writer had succeeded in embedding himself in the 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students.

Footage found on YouTube by Yakimi of the Skeptical Doctor site.


In praise of Rhodesia

The anti-colonial struggle in Africa, writes Dalrymple,

was not about freedom but about power and loot.

The sense in which it represented a political advance

was that it accorded with people’s natural preference for being ruled by a local rather than a foreign dictator, even if the latter were the better ruler by far. Many of the progressive pieties of the 20th century thus had within them a strong core of xenophobia and racism.

Dalrymple avers that Robert Mugabe

is a fine example of his genre: the liberator-turned-despot.

Compared to that of Mugabe, the régime of Ian Smith was infinitely preferable, being

  • considerably less ruthless
  • more willing to place limits upon its exercise of power
  • administratively vastly more competent

Mugabe, Dalrymple notes,

inherited a flourishing country, despite years of international sanctions, one that even Nyerere (no friend of Smith) called a jewel. Whoever takes over from Mugabe will most certainly not inherit a flourishing country.

Rhodesian whites are characterised by the ignorant as

  • lazy
  • spoilt
  • frivolous
  • anti-intellectual
  • beer-swilling
  • rugby-playing
  • thoroughly exploitative

The destroyers

Yet it is difficult, says Dalrymple,

to see how such a people could have left a bejewelled legacy.

A plague of locusts

Mugabe’s force and fraud

have had the opposite consequence of that of the whites: the bread-basket has become the basket case.

The whites

constructed something worthwhile.

Mugabe and his cronies have been

entirely parasitic.

Prophylaxis through lynching

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 07.56.22One of Robert Mugabe’s first acts on attaining power, writes Dalrymple,

was to order the prophylactic suppression, supposedly in the name of freedom, of Matabeleland, a potential source of opposition.

This was

far, far worse, in point of brutality, than anything done by the regime that Mugabe’s replaced.

Dalrymple has a patient

whose husband was tied to a stake, soaked with petrol, and burned alive in front of her by Mugabe’s ‘activists’, his crime having been to vote for the opposition.

The wounded amour propre of subject peoples

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 08.56.33Many people, writes Dalrymple,

would rather be misruled by their own than well governed by strangers.

The greatest harm inflicted by colonial régimes, he argues,

was to the pride of the colonised. It was not the larger injustices that moved them (it seldom is), but the disdain and contempt in which they were so obviously held by the colonisers. Unrequited admiration is bad enough, but to admire those who regard you as beneath consideration, and as congenitally stupid and lacking in capacity, is painful indeed.

Gutsy Voltairean

Shown here being attacked by Mugabe's thugs, Tatchell has proved he has courage. He has also demonstrated the quality of tolerance — 'admirable and alas all too uncommon', as Dalrymple puts it.

Pictured here being attacked by Mugabe’s thugs, Peter Tatchell has many times proved his courage. He has also demonstrated tolerance, a quality ‘admirable and alas all too uncommon’, Dalrymple writes.