Foreign Policy Blogs

On the Ground (Indirectly) in Harare

On the Ground (Indirectly) in Harare


Communicating with friends and colleagues in Harare, I am hearing the following (all quotations are direct from people I have communicated with, but I hope you’ll forgive my granting of anonymity in light of the circumstances):

  • Get out of your minds your 1970s African coup cliches.
  • Most of the streets in suburban Harare (and Harare is an enormously suburban urban area — so also dump your western conception of suburbs) are perfectly easy to navigate. There is no excess of police, the military is not rolling tanks down the streets.
  • There is a sense of unease. For example, the University of Zimbabwe remains open, but end-of-year exams have been postponed.
  • There is a sense of “relative calm,” but also a sense of fear.
  • Honestly, no one knows what is happening politically.

People are scared and uncertain, but the fact is that there has been a constant sense of fear and uncertainty in Zimbabwe for more than a decade.




Derek Catsam

Derek Catsam is a Professor of history and Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan Professor in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. He is also Senior Research Associate at Rhodes University. Derek writes about race and politics in the United States and Africa, sports, and terrorism. He is currently working on books on bus boycotts in the United States and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s and on the 1981 South African Springbok rugby team's tour to the US. He is the author of three books, dozens of scholarly articles and reviews, and has published widely on current affairs in African, American, and European publications. He has lived, worked, and travelled extensively throughout southern Africa. He writes about politics, sports, travel, pop culture, and just about anything else that comes to mind.

Areas of Focus:
Africa; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Apartheid