Julius Nyerere dies

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Sat Oct 16 05:16:01 MDT 1999

> From:          Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
> These places were swamped, by the way, with
> second-hand clothes from the US, which many African nationalists resented.
> If you want to know where most of your thrift shop donations go, it is to
> places like Tanzania and Haiti.

When I'm in Zimbabwe, it's usually on the Bvumba mountainside along
the Mozambique border. I can often see, away in the distance,
several dozen women (mainly) and men gathering consignments of
European-sourced second-hand clothes, dropped by ship at the port of
Beira about 3 hours' drive to the east, transported by rail, and
supplied through a relatively recent merchant network that
reestablished itself from Indian and Portuguese ethnic roots
(displaced during the 1970-75 guerrilla war in the area). They gather
up huge (50 pound) bundles at the small railroad town of Villa
Manica, balance the sacks on their heads, and wander 5km up trails
criss-crossing the valley -- on the Moz side denuded of trees by
desperately poor peasants, and suffering soil erosion due to
overplanting and grazing. They arrive at the Zim border --
essentially just a series of high barbed-wire fences -- where they
must negotiate a 1977-era minefield planted by Rhodies to defend
against Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army incursion. There
are several dozen crossing points, which 300 or so children traverse
each morning, on their way to a primary school on the Zimbabwe
border, so that's not a big hassle. But they then come under
potential scrutiny from local Zimbabwe Republic of Police
detachments, who take $0.50 bribes to allow the "border jumpers" to
progress along their way. Obstacles now include hostile white farmers
(and their fierce Rhodesian ridgeback mutts) in the now-luxuriant,
subtropical valley, where tumbling streams that historically made
their way down to Villa Manica are diverted to irrigation schemes for
the benefit of roses that soon will be refridgerated, shipped to
Harare, and flown to Holland. The border-jumpers then make their way
up 10 km of a steep, windy road. Reaching the top of the valley, they
have another 15 km of steep mountainous roads to walk before arriving
in Zim's third-largest city, Mutare. There, they quietly make contact
with the Zim women traders, who take the wares to the flea market for
a 40% markup. Along with low-income Zimbabweans, TWOGs (Third World
Groupies) like myself partake in very cheap clothing, like
slightly-used cotton t-shirts for $1.50. The Zim clothing and textile
industries, once exceptionally vibrant and sophisticated, have been
run down by around 70% as a result (my cousin's fiance's pop ran the
largest textile factory in the country, and recently closed it,
laying off 6,000 workers in a poor Harare suburb). The Mozambicans
take their capital ($40 or so per load) and profit--I've heard it to
be around $2 per trip--and wander back up the road to the border,
stopping at a small farmstore on the way to buy overpriced coca-cola,
eggs, sugar, processed maize or other goods, again balanced carefully
on their heads, for resale in Villa Manica, possibly realising
another $1 profit.

More information about the Marxism mailing list