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learn harsh lesson
May 16, 2007
medical clinic in Harare was fuller than usual this weekend. Several
beds were occupied by students injured in riots at the University
of Zimbabwe. One of those who was able - and willing - to talk
was Nathaniel Nare, 21, in his fourth year of an honours degree
course in accountancy. Nathaniel, who comes from Beitbridge on the
South African border, didn't look good. One leg was in plaster,
and the rest of his body was bandaged heavily, the result, he told
me, of blows with batons and dog bites. He said trouble began after
the students gathered in a hall on campus to protest at deteriorating
standards at the university. Only two lectures have been given in
Nathaniel's course since February, and final examinations are fast
from student leaders," Nathaniel told me, wincing with pain,
"we began singing songs and chanting slogans, denouncing the
university vice-chancellor, Professor Levy Nyagura, and President
Mugabe, who is chancellor of all the universities.
officers entered the hall, and started beating students with batons.
We fought back, throwing chairs and bottles at them. The fighting
spilled out into the open - and then we heard the sound of teargas
guns. The riot police had arrived.
"We ran for it,
choking in the gas, trying to get to our residence at New Complex
4, but we found our way barred by a bunch of police. They had us
trapped, and we all got beaten. I thought I could escape, but they
unleashed two dogs, which soon had me on the floor.
"I passed out, and
next thing I knew, I was here in this bed. They tell me I have broken
a limb, and I think some of my ribs are broken too. I hurt all over."
By now Nathaniel is crying
quietly. This is how it is for a young man in Zimbabwe who is just
trying to get an education. All around him are fellow students with
similar injuries - and in similar states of despair.
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