One day in April 2016, the Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire was sitting in his office, frustrated at the persistent economic crisis in his country that was making it difficult to provide for his family. So, he decided to vent. He took out his phone, propped it up against the Bible on his desk, and recorded a video in which he spoke about the symbolism of the Zimbabwean national flag, and how the promises of freedom and prosperity that it symbolizes had been violated by the regime of then-President Robert Mugabe. The video quickly went viral, inspiring a hashtag, #ThisFlag, and massive pro-democracy demonstrations. Mawarire was arrested and imprisoned for his activism.
A year and a half later, Mugabe had resigned, forced out by the military. Hopes were high that the country had turned a corner, but conditions have only worsened under Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the continued rule of the ZANU-PF party. This week on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman speaks with Evan Mawarire about the struggle for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe, and why he is hopeful for the country’s future despite the long odds for change.
Listen to the full interview with Evan Mawarire here: