Zimbabwe, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, is a nation of rich history, diverse wildlife, and unique cultural aspects. Despite facing significant challenges, Zimbabwe has many intriguing and lesser-known factlets that contribute to its distinct character.
Here are six interesting facts that provide a glimpse into the complexities and idiosyncrasies of Zimbabwe.
1. Economic Crisis: In 2013, Zimbabwe’s government account was left with a mere $217 due to an astronomical inflation rate of 231,000,000%, which severely devalued any reserves.
2. Legal Restrictions on Humor and Insults: It remains illegal in Zimbabwe to insult the President, with offenders facing up to a year in prison or a fine. In 1982, a law was passed prohibiting jokes about the surname of the then-President, Canaan Banana. President Banana was later found guilty of multiple charges of sodomy and indecent assault in 1998.
3. Hyperinflation and Media Resistance: Dictator Robert Mugabe, in an attempt to silence a critic of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, imposed excessive taxes on his newspaper. The journalist creatively responded by printing advertisements on trillion-dollar bills, which were cheaper than using regular paper.
4. Wildlife Conservation Efforts: An elephant named Ben, after being shot by poachers, remarkably sought help by waiting outside a medical lodge for five hours. Additionally, Zimbabwe is home to Akashinga (“the brave ones”), an all-female anti-poaching combat unit.
5. Ariel School UFO Sighting: In 1994, an extraordinary event occurred at Ariel School in Ruwa, where 60 children reported seeing a UFO and ‘aliens with big eyes’. This incident garnered international attention and remains a topic of intrigue.
6. Unique Approach to Sewage Management: To prevent blockages in sewer pipes, the mayor of Bulawayo implemented a synchronized toilet flush across the city. Non-compliance with this unusual directive resulted in fines for residents.