I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


"Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Dominica, Egypt, France, the Gambia, Hungary, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Libya and Mongolia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay, Vietnam, West Xylophone, Yemen, Zimbabwe"
-They Might Be Giants, "Alphabet of Nations"

I've never experienced this phenomenon before, because Zimbabwe is not often in the news. But lately, that last triumphant "Zimbabwe-e-eh" from "Alphabet of Nations," has been ringing in my ears.

Zimbabwe will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the locus of my last and greatest overseas adventure. It was the summer of 1992. I had left a relationship suspended right at the thrilling uncertain moment just before it is declared. Thus ensued an epistolary courthsip the likes of which may never be seen again in this cyber-world.

The world was likewise suspended. Just across the border, Mandela had been released, but what then?

Even more, I saw Zimbabwe at its zenith, in the company of expat Black Americans who everywhere we went were exclaiming how much improved everything was. Nkosi Sikeleli was a low hum heard everywhere. The fierce revolutionary pride was palpable.

In Victoria Falls, I ran into George Drake, recently retired from the presidency of Grinnell College. And why should I be surprised? It seemed like the center of the world.

That's how I want to remember it. It tears me up to see Mugabe gone mad and the farms lying fallow and the Zim dollar not worth the paper it's printed on. But I didn't dare hope that the people could defeat Mugabe. Now I dare.

It reminds me of Joseph Asagai, the African intellectual in "A Raisin in the Sun", who even in expressing his hopes for his country, and for his own role in bringing about the revolution there, includes a premonition of his eventual corruption, and wishes that a future patriot will slit his throat in the night.

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