Social media is a powerful tool for people to air their views. Since Monday, a hashtag has emerged on Twitter that makes for painful reading – #HowTheyRobbedUs. It has unearthed hundreds of individual stories of suffering and humiliation from ordinary Zimbabweans who have suffered as a result of the political and economic decay in Zimbabwe. A Twitter analytics plugin suggests that 600 posts have been shared so far, reaching nearly 3 million Twitter users around the world.
The hashtag was started on 17 October by Phil Chard (@PhilChard) or Phylent Phlossy as he is known on Twitter. Chard says in the last few months he’s come across a lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa and seen updates from many more on social media who are very hurt and traumatised about how life has unfolded in Zimbabwe over the past 16 years.
Chard told Harare News that young adults have been forced to grow up in foreign lands. Others attended universities only to find out there are no jobs available. Families have been separated and have not seen each other in years and others still have been forced to find work in foreign lands where they are treated as second class citizens.
“There is this overriding feeling among young adults from Zimbabwe: that we are failures because we have not had the opportunity to start our lives or build homes or secure our futures. So a few days ago, I decided to start the hashtag where I spoke about my frustrations and how our leaders have failed to live up to their mandates and build the Zimbabwe that we were promised in 1980. I encouraged Zimbabweans to participate,” he said.
“Sadly the stories I am seeing are a reflection of the stories that sparked my idea. What is shocking is the amount of people who all share similar, heartbreaking and traumatic experiences. The amount of Zimbabweans on social media represents a small fraction of Zimbabwe’s population still at home and in the Diaspora. So seeing the large number of stories from such a small amount of people just shows how many people are hurting and suffering” he added.
Chard concludes, “All I wanted to do was start a dialogue on how Zimbabweans have been robbed of a fulfilling existence. This is by no means a political movement that is meant to vilify one party or another. Frankly ALL OF OUR LEADERS have failed Zimbabwe, not just a select few. The hashtag and the stories belong to the people. They will decide what happens next. For now I just feel it’s important that everyone shares their stories however they can. Whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or on blogs.”
Below are a few tweets shared with the #HowTheyRobbedUs hashtag:
I’m 24 and a university graduand and still having my underwear bought for me by my 54 year old mother. #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Carlton Masinga (@Carlomasinga) October 19, 2016
— Simanga Madhlabuta (@SmangaMad) October 18, 2016
They stole our money, used it to pay for their lavish lifestyles, now we have to queue for the crumbs. #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Fadzayi Mahere (@advocatemahere) October 19, 2016
They told us education is the Key..and Now they have changed the locks.
— Ntshuxeko Ndhlovu (@BlackkCellence) October 18, 2016
Seeing 3 generations of the same family cramped up in 3 room house #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Zim_Socialist (@Cde_Huruva) October 18, 2016
#HowTheyRobbedUs Two married graduates with two degrees apiece but can’t afford a house, brand new car, or vacation barring a miracle
— Kudzai M.Mubaiwa (@kumub) October 18, 2016
Making the heartbreaking decision not to go home & pay last respects to my sister but send the money instead to bury her #HowTheyRobbedUs
— All Things Zim (@Zimtweets) October 18, 2016
— Sal Amanda (@Zimbird) October 17, 2016
I lost my premature baby coz the electricity went off, generator was not funtional and the hospital had run out of O2 #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Masivanda (@Adnavisam) October 18, 2016
I come from a country where you have to take your own water to a hospital just so you can give birth. #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Elise (@Elyzium01) October 18, 2016
So many number ones on the charts but cant even buy a car with money earned from the catalogue. #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Jusa Dementor (@Jusadementor) October 18, 2016
#HowTheyRobbedUs they freed us only to enslave us with reminders of a liberation war so long forgotten because it’s gains have been lost.
— Kim (@Karangalite) October 18, 2016
My father died in the UK, spoke to him one day & he came back in a box the next moment, hadn’t seen him for 2 years! #HowTheyRobbedUs
— MaiNaniso (@misskache) October 17, 2016
You spend years paying your medical aid premiums then all of a sudden they tell you haichashande #HowTheyRobbedUs
— Too Little Sauce (@rose_messi) October 19, 2016
there is freedom of speech but no freedom after speech#HowTheyRobbedUs
— Polite Munyari (@politemunyari) October 19, 2016
Watched my father sell almost everything he worked hard 4 2 send me 2 school. All i want is 2 pay him back but no jobs #HowTheyRobbedUs
— The_Nemesis_? (@_Chikondi_) October 19, 2016
She’s frustrated & angry cos she feels helpless. I feel angry & useless because I can’t move us forward. #HowTheyRobbedUs
— King Dimple | #afgp (@TehnDiamond) October 19, 2016