Where is Zimbabwe?
Where exactly is Zimbabwe ? sounds like an odd question, but this is not an uncommon question to those that do a bit travelling outside Africa.
Part of the problem for such ignorance lies squarely on the askers of the question. In an age of the internet, google maps and iPhones, it wouldnt be unreasonable to expect the person to just quietly surf the net and search where Zimbabwe is.
However those that ask seem to be the better ones. Those that think they know everything about Zimbabwe, usually just know a piece of negative news they read or saw in the media which in most cases is inaccurate.
Those I have met who have asked where Zimbabwe is, I take time to try and explain its location and everything about the country. At times this has turned out to be a difficult endeavour.
To people who are totally clueless I have had to cleverly start quizzing them on how well their African geography is. This of cause is usually met with blank stares. I then move on to make associations of location with people. Someone like Nelson Mandela proves to be rather popular in getting people to have an idea of where the South part of Africa is, especially in the West.
So a typical probing question would be, “Do you know Nelson Mandela?” or “do you know Shaka Zulu?” usually one of the two gets a positive response and then I say “they are from South Africa” I then guide them from there untill I describe where Zimbabwe is.The reason I use these example is because of the many people I have met few seem to know any Zimbabwean icons.
Zimbabwe has a lot of iconic landmarks and natural features that can be used to identify the country however it seems we are not branding or marketing these well. There is a lot of financial benefits that can be gained from tourism in terms of job creation and forex inflows.
For instance SA and Zambia now market the Victoria Falls more than Zimbabwe does. Yet Zimbabwe has the best view of the falls. Infact at one time the Victoria Falls was uniquely Zimbabwean. There are many more examples to be cited here.
There are prominant Zimbabweans too, who we need to celebrate more as a country and showcase on the world stage. Its embarrasing to have to use other people from other countries in order to talk about Zimbabwe.
As a country I think we overestimate how the rest of the world knows about us. Maybe we dont even care if we are known or not. It might not even be a priority at this point in our history. I however think that we constantly need to remind the world that we are there and still part of the global community.