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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My New Dwindling Community

posted by on March 27 at 12:18 PM

Last night at around 3 am, I joined the mailing list for the Zimbabwe Jewish Community. Though the present number of Jews in Zimbabwe is extremely small, around 250 (and mostly old people who can’t leave the horrible place), not too long ago their number was beyond 7,000 and growing.

This web site aims to celebrate nearly 110 years of Jewish Communities in Zimbabwe and help record the history and details of a unique period for the benefit of both current and future generations. From a peak of some 7,500 Jews in the early 1970s - the total Zimbabwe Jewish community in 2006 is approximately 270 souls (from 294 in 2005). This is the story of a once vibrant community who settled for many different reasons in what was originally Rhodesia - later to become Zimbabwe. Time however, is of the essence as the numbers of those that can “tell the story” and the remaining community dwindle.

The ZJC’s remaining mission is “to collect data on the Jewish cemeteries in Zimbabwe [and] have every tombstone photographed, in all the cemeteries of Harare, Bulawayo and the smaller towns.”

The website also has great pictures like this one:
smaller-weizman.jpgWhat a lovely bracelet on that wrist.

I did not join the Zimbabwe Jewish Community’s website out of boredom brought on by insomnia (I was actually enjoying a book by Jean-Luc Nancy on the subject of restlessness), I joined it because one of the few pleasures left in the mess, misery, and miscarriage that is generally known as Zimbabwe is looking at its history, its hopeful days. When your country is dead in every way—a dead passport, dead dream, dead reality—then its past becomes frozen in time. There is no continuum; no line that stretches from now to then. There is a rupture, a clean break between us and them. The people in these promising pictures exist in a world that we in the infinity of the present know will become nothing else than the history of a community.

RSS icon Comments


I'm sorry, Charles. I think about Zimbabwe often.

Posted by Fnarf | March 27, 2007 12:25 PM

Yes Charles. It is sad to see one person selfishly dragging an entire nation down.

Posted by Lawrence Molloy | March 27, 2007 12:46 PM

What's the meaning of the caption?

"What a lovely bracelet on that wrist."

Posted by lmfn | March 27, 2007 1:16 PM

I like what the bracelet is wearing.

Posted by elswinger | March 27, 2007 1:16 PM

Aha, evidence that you even bore yourself:
"I did not join the Zimbabwe Jewish Community’s website out of boredom brought on by insomnia"
Alas, you do not bore yourself to sleep like you do so many otherzzz zzz zzzzz

Posted by Snagglepuss | March 27, 2007 1:21 PM

hey Snagglepuss, how bout a long motherfuckin' walk off a short motherfuckin' pier for you?

Talk about adding insult to injury.

Posted by gnossos | March 27, 2007 1:48 PM

I can assure you Charles, you play no part n this history you celebrate. The hopfull days you nostalgically write about were the bastion of a very privilaged few and you would certainly have been excluded for the pictured gathering unless you were the unfortunate houseboy tasked with cleaning up afterwards.

Posted by Deeply Depressed | March 27, 2007 5:20 PM

actually, deeply depressed, the year this photo was taken, 1969, i was born to educated parents and in very comfortable circumstances. so there is room in the image for my nostalgia. and even if you were not as fortunate as my parents, then at least you had a job, a pension, and could expect to live far beyond the present life expectancy of 34.

Posted by charles mudede | March 27, 2007 6:01 PM

I am surpised to read you say that Charles. I've read a quite a few of your posts and one theme that is popular in your writings is the march of modernity - the rejecion of old archacisms that give way to new universalities. Rhodesia, Charles was exactly the crusty remnant of the glorious past that a modernist like you would reject. The Anglo stratified class structure emboded by what neighborhood you lived in (Borrowdale - uperclass white, Hatfield - middle class black or Mufacose - poor black), what school you attended, what accent you spoke your English with all in an attempt to create a mirror image of mother England. Your (and my) disgust of Mugabe aside, Rhodesia was an epoch that needed to go - if only to make way for a true Zimbabweanism - not the shallow recreation of Anglosaxon society.

Posted by Deeply Depressed | March 27, 2007 6:53 PM

deeply depressed, i see, you know harare very well. i actually must be a little clear on my position. what i find in these images, is the potential for progress, the materials for progress. the potential that was once there is now gone. is the future possible today in zimbabwe? no. but it was back then.

Posted by charles mudede | March 28, 2007 12:05 PM

Charles - I am editor of the ZJC ( website please contact me.



Posted by Dave | March 31, 2007 11:17 PM

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