12 December 2008

Greece, Zimbabwe and South Africa

On 6 December 2008 a Greek policeman shot a teenager in Athens.

A subsequent demonstration turned violent, and cars and shops were burnt.

There's a good summary of events on Wikipedia.

I can't help wondering what might happen if Zimbabwean youth responded like Greek youth -- or like South African youth in 1976.

In Greece, similar action by youth in 1974 resulted in the restoration of democracy. Two years alter, South African youth responded in a similar fashion, but it took nearly 20 years, and many more deaths, before democracy was established.

One result of the Greek action in 1974 was that the youth were honoured. There is a public holiday, Polytechniou, to commemorate the Polytechnic students who died, just as we have Youth Day in South Africa to commemorate the young people who died in June 16 1976 and the following weeks.

Another result, according to my daughter, who is a student in Athens, is that since 1974 the police have not been allowed to enter universities. This makes it easier for students to manufacture Molotov cocktails and the like, and it's quite common to see burnt-out vehicles on campus.

I suspect, however, that if Zimbabwean youth tried the same thing, the police would not arrest the policemen who killed young people, but would reward them, and there would be many more deaths.

After 1976, many South African young people went abroad for military training, and returned to fight back.

Many Zimbabwean youth, faced with a similar situation of police repression and brutality, also leave the country, but I'm not aware of any of them forming a liberation army to go home and fight back. That's probably just as well -- the Democratic Republic of Congo as dozens of "liberation" armies, most of which are fighting to be in a position to oppress others. A lot of Zimbabwe's present troubles stem from the misguided attempt of the Zimbabwean government to support one of them by sending troops to the Congo to support one of the factions there.

Are there any lessons in all this for Zimbabwean youth?

1 comment:

James Higham said...

There is a good analysis of this at Politeia.


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