As we drive along after 3 nights
and 2 days of safari activities at Chimwara Camp and the venerable
Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe, as we pass by the
signature African Baobab upside-down trees -- I drift into a
contemplation of the life of the native (born here, not native
in the ethnic sense) Zimbabwean -- and how is it the we westerners
have deemed this "the Third World?" (No dictionary present,
so I suppose I'll look it up later.)
How is it that a person becomes a resident of a "Third World"
country? Do you move there? Generally not. Do you choose it?
Certainly not. You are born there. And what's with all this
banter in the west about the burden of such "Third World" nations?
Especially the stuff of economic, social and racial encumberments?
This is all such rubbish.
We Americans, so arrogant, so coy, so embracing of our possessions
and lifestyle; we were born where we were absolutely randomly
-- and yet we're the first to label this spot, Zimbabwe, north
of the Republic of South Africa and south of the great jungles
of equatorial Africa -- we're the first to label this a "Third
World" country, and associate the citizens with all of the stigma
people really think that the citizens of "Third World" nations
don't wish to be fully educated and
don't wish for a better future for
themselves and their families?
Honestly, think about it. If
your Mom and Dad lived here, or perhaps were only just visiting,
and you were born, you may become a citizen. Now you're a resident
and citizen of a "Third World" country.
Am I missing something? It really is that simple a concept.
Of course I understand that if many generations of your family
were born and lived their lives out here, then I suppose you'd
be much more firmly entrenched in the economic and social issues
of a "Third World" country. But the fact remains that an individual's
birth location is a random event; hence, citizenry is also essentially
random. And forget that nonsense about "if you parents cared,
then you would have been born elsewhere." Do people really think
that the citizens of "Third World" nations don't
wish to be fully educated and don't wish
for a better future for themselves and their families? Throughout
our experience in Zimbabwe we encountered only people who wanted
more education and wished that more opportunity existed for
themselves and their families. The concept of an individual's
citizenship and all of the attendant assumptions and ramifications
are certainly and obviously out of the control of that individual.
concept of an individual's citizenship and all of the attendant
assumptions and ramifications are certainly and obviously
out of the control of that individual.
We stop and view a village and
some of the residents, including 2 very old matriarchs, come
up to the tour bus to greet us -- not with their hands out,
but smiling and possessing a sense of genuine curiosity. The
people here in this remote rural area of Zimbabwe live in villages
consisting of small adobe huts with thatched roofs (remarkably
adept at shunning rain water!) and usually are employed on a
small subsistence family farm. There are no wild animals here
-- such creatures are relegated to the huge tracts of official
National Park lands and Safari Areas. A vast majority of the
citizens don't have enough money or resources to visit such
enclaves -- hence they are as much in awe of the existence of
lions and elephants as you and I are, even though they live
essentially among them. I'm too embarrassed to take a photograph.
We're off now to Victoria Falls, and to another expensive air
shuttle to deliver us to yet another elegant and graciously
managed luxury safari camp, where the safari guides (premier
naturalists, said to be the best backcountry guides in the world),
cook and staff each earn upwards of US $40.00/month paid unfortunately
in Z$ (Zimbabwean dollars), devalued weekly and last month alone
by a staggering 100% (those same safari lodges "support" such
a devaluation by offering the visitors exchange far exceeding
the official government rate). And so it goes for the residents
of a "Third World" nation.
third world 1 Any
or all of the underdeveloped countries in the world, especially
such countries in Asia or Africa . . . 2 Those
not resident in the countries of the third world but collectively
identified with their peoples, as because of ideology,
ethnic background, or disadvantaged status.
(note: last bold is mine. s. Willis Greiner)
[from Funk & Wagnalls Standard Comprehensive Dictionary
-- International Edition]