Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Zimbabwe Addenda: Kenya and internal Languages

Anglophone Kenya has a stake in the outcome in Zimbabwe.  Like America in 2000, we will never know who won in Kenya's 2007 election.  The US and EU quickly moved in and started pushing the Kenyans around, insisting on some sort of compromise (just like America welcomed international calls for a Bush-Gore unity government in 2000, and would welcome such calls again).  What they did was create the post of Prime Minister, and gave it to the person who appeared to have been cheated.  A U.S. Republican Party backed group, the IRI, was one voice that used exit polls to denounce the original election.  Kenya, by the way, has three of Africa's four major language groups, and the voting division was along linguistic regional lines.

Kenya's agreement, in part foisted on them from the outside, becomes an especially bitter pill if Zimbabwe suffers no such meddling (would you sit idly by if foreigners encouraged us to change our Constitution because of a close, allegedly fraud-ridden election?).

Enough of Kenya, what about Zimbabwe's internal language situation.

The majority group in Zimbabwe is, like the Shia in Iraq, about 60-65% of the total population.  Unlike Iraq, however, the smaller groups are much smaller: one at 10%, three around 5%, another four around 3%.  The Shona people have run Zimbabwe from the beginning.  Zimbabwe became independent only in 1980, the white government having become independent from the British during the days when Britain was spinning off her colonial empire.  Quite soon after independence, there was violence between the Shona and the second largest group, the Ndebele speakers. 

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