Last weekend Parade magazine’s cover story was entitled the World’s 10 Worst Dictators. Know who they are?
10 Musammar al-Qaddafi of Lybya
9 Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov of Turkmenistan
8 Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea
7 Sayyid Ali Khamenei of Iran
6 Hu Jintao of China
5 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
4 Than Shwe of Burma (Myanmar)
3 Kim Jong-Il of North Korea
2 Omar al-Bashir of Sudan
Any guesses on the Number 1 World’s Worst Dictator???
1 Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
In many ways the number 1 choice surprised me. Not because of who Mugabe is and what he’s done, but there is such a lack of awareness of most people of what is happening in Zimbabwe that I never thought the media would report him. With all of the attention on Darfur I’d understand naming al-Bashir, but never expected Mugabe.
If you aren’t familiar with what is happening do a quick google. You’ll read about hyper-inflation that your mind can’t comprehend. $50 billion isn’t enough to buy two loaves of bread!! And the currency changes by the minute. You’ll read of atrocities that have been done to his opponents and their supports all to keep himself in power (killings and torturing).
I met a woman a year and a half ago at a conference from Zimbabwe who was running wonderful health programs in her community. I do my best to financially support where I work so normally I don’t give as much to other organizations. However, this woman and I connected so much that I sponsored a child with her organization, we prayed together and attempted to stay in touch. The last email I received from her was a long time ago. It talked about Mugabe doing some pretty bad things. **It was a very disturbing email and I have not heard from her since. Honestly, I don’t know that she is still even alive.**
Just last week I spoke with a woman up in Canada from Zimbabwe who wanted to do a project to help her country. We had a nice conversation about what Zimbabwe used to be like and how it has been utterly destroyed under President Mugabe.
GCHope has been very involved in projects to Zimbabwe in the last months dealing with the public health crisis of the cholera outbreak. __The current life expectancy for an average male in Zimbabwe right now is only 37.__ Can you even believe that?
So, I’m not surprised that Mugabe ranks number one when you look at what has happened to the country under his charge. But the average person has no idea this is happening and even when organizations try to get word out to do something, it can feel like there’s a spirit of apathy because after all, that’s not really my problem….right?
I’m not sure the answers to all of the oppressive regimes, but I do know that if there are ways to help the people born into the oppression to be helped then we can and should help them. I actually believe we have a responsibility to help them.
So today, tell someone you know about what is happening in Zimbabwe. After all, awareness is the first step to engagement that leads to action!