Comments: 220 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

ENRN95 karma

Do you think Zim will ever be a safe and enjoyable place to live?

Just this past year we gave up with the dream of moving back there - my family owned a tobacco farm since the 70s. We lost that in the land reform, and ended up buying my Aunt an apartment in Harare. She died a few years ago but we decided to keep the apartment, mainly because we all wanted to retire to Zim. We didn't need the money, but this past year sold the apartment as we decided Zim will never be a place we could go and enjoy. Really sad, as it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Inortix58 karma

I'd really like to believe that some day things will get better. I don't think it'll be happening anytime soon though. With everything the country's been through its probably gonna take a good decade or two to reverse the damage to the infrastructure and economic recovery is going to require foreign investment which is never going to happen with politics as they are right now.

We've also recently sold our house back there having come to the same conclusion as your family.

Timmytanks402 karma

That's weird my family just bought a third house in harare. Ye of so little faith.

Inortix1 karma

Do you and your family still live in Zimbabwe?

CSCrimson43 karma

What was the highest denomination note you've held in your hands?

How big of a role did the black market play when trying to purchase goods?

Inortix84 karma

I think the largest note I ever held was a 100 trillion dollar note which was one of last ones produced before the Zimbabwean currency was formally done away with. By that point, however, the currency had been re-valued five or six times (when the numbers got too big to deal with the govt chopped all the zeroes off and started again with a new round of notes). So without the re-valuation that 100 trillion dollar note would have had another 27 zeros on it.

As for the black-market, it paid a major role in everyday purchases especially towards the end when inflation really went crazy. "Rand shops" started popping up that only dealt in foreign currencies (mostly the South African Rand). These typically operated out of someone's back yard. Operating only in foreign currencies was illegal until the Zim dollar officially collapsed

INGSOCtheGREAT21 karma

Was there ever any government backlash against the Rand shops? Or did they more or less just allow them to exist and operate?

Inortix35 karma

They cracked down on them where they could but people mostly got away with it. Law enforcement in general went downhill and there were few situations you couldn't bribe your way out of

SilverStar919216 karma

What currencies were used for the bribes?

Inortix14 karma

Mostly Rand though also USD, Pounds and occasionally Pula (Botswana)

the4thbandit14 karma

What could you buy with 100 trillion?

Inortix18 karma

Kinda hard to answer since when it was first introduced it was worth a lot but within the space of a few months it was worth almost nothing. Its purchasing power ranged from a weeks groceries to a loaf of bread

abz_eng39 karma

What will happen when Mugabe dies? Will things get better or will the Zanu-PF factions start fighting each other?

Inortix46 karma

The cynic in me is inclined towards the latter.

DavidHvad12325 karma

How is the situation for the whites still in Zimbabwe? How is the relationship between the black and white community?

Inortix48 karma

Situation for whites still in Zimbabwe is tough, though everyone whose still there has generally found some way to make things work. Its not easy though.

As for relationships between black and white; strained to say the least. A lot of it depends on where you are. Better in urban areas, worse in rural areas

DavidHvad12314 karma

Thanks for the answer. What's the general opinion among the whites - Do people want to emigrate somewhere else or stay?

Inortix21 karma

At this point I'd say that most of white folk left there are still there because they don't want to leave. There are however a good few who'd emigrate if they could, but it just isn't possible for them.

VoilaVoilaWashington4 karma

Why is it not possible? I would think that they would have a solid claim for refugee status, no?

railroad-man2 karma

I suppose they could claim refugee status if they wanted to stay somewhere. Getting there and starting a new life is a different story.

Inortix4 karma

Pretty much this. Zimbabwe is far removed from the any western country that might take them so getting there in the first place would be too expensive for anyone who can't afford daily life in Zimbabwe.

hugh_jorgyn8 karma

is there overt racism against the white minority?

Inortix20 karma

Within the government; absolutely. Your average guy off the street was usually pretty chill though. I should note though that the area of Zimbabwe I was in was Matabeleland where government opposition was strongest. Basically it comes down to tribal politics. Matabeleland is home to the Ndebele people who historically haven't gotten along well with the Shona people (Mugabe is Shona)

Timmytanks401 karma

Mugabe isnt shona his dad is from Malawi. That's like calling Obama a pacific islander.

Inortix1 karma

Correct, but his mom is Shona. Politically he's always identified more towards his Shona heritage.

ForeignPolicyWonk21 karma

How is the pre-independence white-minority government of Ian Smith remembered among Zimbabwean whites? Is there nostalgia for Rhodesia?

Inortix19 karma

Yeah, there's a fair amount of nostalgia, mostly within the older generations.

RealPeterNorth20 karma

How hot are the chicks in Austrailia ?

Inortix48 karma

Pretty damn hot

ace133918 karma

What was the biggest factor in your decision to leave? Was it the hyper-inflation, crime, politics, etc?

Politically speaking, what was the craziest/scariest thing that happened?

Inortix28 karma

Mostly the crime and politics. I just didn't see a future for myself there.

Scariest thing to deal with was probably the land reforms. I still have family back there who are in the midst of a legal battle to keep control of a game-park that's been in our family for generations. Intimidation tactics are common so my uncle's constantly dodging police and CIO officers (govt spooks)

SevenAmericaball1 karma

You say the game-park was in your family for generations, but how did they get it in the first place?

Inortix33 karma

My great-grandfather bought it way back in the day when it was still a white government in power.

SilverStar9192-42 karma

Edit: not sure the downvotes here. The White settlers of Rhodesia/Zimbambwe pretty much universally stole their land from the natives. Perhaps not OP's family themselves but someone bought it from a land theif somewhere along the way (or the government who stole the land on behalf of the settlers). Hence why white Zimbabwean's don't like to talk about the origins of their land. And while retaking the land from the whites hasn't been a positive economic move, the motivation is social justice due to this taking.

Plenty of other native cultures would like to take back their land from European settlers... They just haven't been powerful enough to able to.

Inortix6 karma

Its cool, you're absolutely right. Black exploitation by the colonials is a sad but indisputable fact and I'd be a naive fool if I didn't believe that somewhere along the line my family had been complicit in it.

I understand the motivation of social justice for the land reforms and agree with it up to a point but I can tell you from practical first hand experience that's not the spirit it's being executed with. When land is seized it isn't given back to locals. It becomes the private property of the government official (usually corrupt) who's decided its now his. Violence (as opposed to the law) is used to drive people off their lands and off the top off my head I can think of a few families we know who have either been savagely beaten or had a member of their family killed outright.

Shankbucket17 karma

Curious, whats your accent sound like? I imagine a Zimbabwean accent sounds kind of like South African, but your race might also play a factor.

Inortix39 karma

Leonardo DiCaprio nailed it pretty well in Blood Diamonds when he played a Rhodesian

OverPaidChimp8 karma

I came here for the same question. Any chance OP could record his voice to settle our curiosity?

Inortix15 karma

Sure, just give me something to say

czczczzc3338 karma


WolfHolyWar2 karma

Please do this OP. It will be solid gold.

Inortix2 karma

I'm sorely tempted... 4chan memes: Zimbabwe edition

f3lbane13 karma

"The life of the wife is ended by the knife."

Inortix23 karma


Gonna go with this one 'cause its short

CardboardTable13 karma

What made you choose Australia as the country you'd emigrate to?

Inortix25 karma

We had family here who helped us get in on a sponsored work visa

czczczzc332 karma

a lot of white South African immigrants there as well I'm guessing? how would you compare the two groups?

Inortix1 karma

Yeah there's a lot of them here though not in the area I'm in (small town rural Australia). Most of them are in the cities.

As for how I'd compare them it depends if we're talking Afrikaans South African or English South African. We tend to have more in common with the English South Africans

sp1n11 karma

Somewhat random question not exactly about Zimbabwe. I was born and raised in Zambia before I moved out in 1994. Back then we used to drive down to Zimbabwe and it used to feel like we had entered another world. Roads that were actually good. Really big malls and supermarkets with quite a few multinational corporations. Very different from how Zambia was. So it was really sad to hear about how things changed in Zimbabwe over the next decade or so.

Would you happen to know what happened to Zambia before you left? Did it get better or worse?

Inortix6 karma

From what I hear things are on the mend these days but I don't know much more than that I'm afraid

chunklight10 karma

How old were you during hyperinflation? How did your family deal with it?

Inortix20 karma

The hyper-inflation period occurred roughly between 2002 and 2008 so I was 12 - 18 years old.

We manged to get by as my dad ran his own business as a packaging wholesaler so his income mostly kept track with the inflation.

SilverStar919211 karma

We manged to get by as my dad ran his own business as a packaging wholesaler so his income mostly kept track with the inflation.

Didn't that mean you'd have to spend all your income in basically the same day it was made? Or did he buy things like precious metals or foreign currency to hedge a bit?

Inortix3 karma

A bit of buying up foreign currency over the black-market, a bit of spending it as you earn it

TomHicks9 karma

Can you elaborate more on the infrastructure collapse? How rapid was it? What were the signals it had started? What are the crazy politics you're talking about?

Did you grow up in Rhodesia? How was life then compared to now?

Inortix56 karma

I was born post-independence

Infrastructure collapse was mostly electricity supply, water supply and roads. Eight hour power cuts six days a week were common (load-shedding) and I still remember carting buckets of water from the swimming to pool to fill geysers/toilets. The roads are riddled with pot-holes and haven't been maintained in years. On that note, here's a Zimbabwean joke:

How do you spot a drunk driver in Zimbabwe?

He's the one driving straight.

TomHicks1 karma

What race are you, if you don't mind me asking? I heard there was a white minority there, how are things for them? And what are the crazy politics you mentioned in the OP?

HamproOne2 karma

See his proof. He's white.

TomHicks2 karma

The OP's removed.

Inortix1 karma

It is? Wasn't me

bambazonke8 karma


Inortix9 karma


lphntslr12 karma

r'lyeh fhtagn

Inortix3 karma

All hail Cthulhu!


How did most people deal with getting food and other daily necessities?

Inortix13 karma

They either went through the black market, grew their own food (return to subsistence living) or went across the border to South Africa , Botswana or Zambia where goods could be purchased

FudgeTosser7 karma

Were you segregated over there, did you go to school with blacks? Did blacks live in your neighborhood? Or is it like south Africa with white communities separate from black communities?

Inortix17 karma

No segregation. Most of the guys at my school and in my classes were black and plenty of my neighbours were

DavidHvad1236 karma

How did the blacks in school treat you?

Inortix28 karma

Race was never a big thing in school, at least it never was for me. It was honestly something we could joke about. I did go to a private school though so most of the black guys came from middle-class to upper-middle-class families. Plenty of really cool guys.

Shixma1 karma

What school did you go to into Zimbabwe? I used to live there and went from Barwick to Lomagundi then St. Georges.

Inortix1 karma

I was in Bulawayo so CBC

FudgeTosser-2 karma

Race relations were good then? Like here in America blacks and whites will joke about race but it's mostly hate free.

Inortix14 karma

As I've said; relations are decent in urbanized areas but get worse in the rural areas

Delaser6 karma

If one wanted to get their hands on a very large stack of the near worthless inflated money, how would you suggest one do so?

Inortix2 karma

Try eBay, I've seen Zim cash sold there before as novelty items

sweYoda4 karma

Have you realized the importance in not trusting government issued money (aka fiat money)?

Do you own some physical gold/silver?

Inortix2 karma

Yeah, it's definitely helped me realize how arbitrary and senseless the concept of "money" can be.

No silver/gold; I'm pretty broke

Sordidmutha3 karma

What was the nightlife like? I'm not trying to make a joke.

Inortix2 karma

It was alright; I lived in the second biggest city in Zimbabwe so there were a few bars/clubs you could go to. There's quite a strong drinking culture among the white zimbo's so there were always people out and about

nutellalover73 karma

Do you like cricket?

Inortix8 karma

Never been much of a sports fan to be honest but my sister loves it

TheBigBlabberMouth3 karma

Do Zimbabwean people save in gold now? What do they use?

Inortix2 karma

During the hyper-inflation period it was mostly foreign currency purchased via the black-market

origin_of_an_asshole2 karma

Hi! My questions is off-topic. I study the mbira music of the shona and ndebele people who are indigenous to Zimbabwe. Everyone I discuss it with is obviously familiar with it and it's a big part of their life so the perspectives and opinions I usually encounter are very biased. I'm working off of the assumption that you're not in music academia. Is mbira music actually popular in Zimbabwe, or at least well known?

Inortix2 karma

Yeah it's pretty popular, mostly in the rural areas.

Zimstralian2 karma

CBC or Falcon?

Inortix2 karma

You just made my day man. CBC

fatherleadfoot2 karma

Did you ever do things with the currency itself rather than purchase an item for the intended job?

Something like wiping your butt with money because toilet paper would have cost more.

Inortix3 karma

Its great for practical jokes.

Take a fat stack with you when you go to South Africa on holiday

Find a club

"Make it rain"

Stand back and watch the fun

Aboutadragong1 karma

I was born in Zimbabwe too and lived in Bulawayo but we moved to the uk around 9 years ago. How were the tensions between Shona and Ndebele people when you left? And also between black people and white people? Also what was your favourite food there?

Inortix1 karma

Relations between the two tribes still aren't great and I doubt they'll ever be good. Too much bad history.

As for black and white it really depends what area you're in. I was in Matabeleland pretty much exclusively and relations between black people and white people are decent enough in Bulawayo though I really can't speak for the rest of the country.

Favourite food: I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for sadza and beef stew

captaincinders1 karma

Hay. I was born out there but moved away when about 10 years old. I have always wanted to take a holiday back there and show my wife where I grew up, but have always worried about the situation out there. What is it like for tourists? Any particular issues to be lookout for as a tourist?

Inortix1 karma

Tourists are usually pretty safe especially if you do a package tour kinda thing where you travel in a group with others and have a guide/someone who's job is to look out for your welfare. If you still have your accent and can pass as a local then that's even better. Your biggest problem would probably be people harassing you to buy stuff or trying to rip you off if you clearly look like a tourist.

Whereabouts did you grow up?

LordGAD1 karma

Did you see precious metals being used in place of common currency?

Inortix1 karma

No, just foreign currencies and the occasional barter trade

Deus_Viator1 karma

Have you listened to the last /r/askhistorians podcast on zimbabwe and if so, what did you think?

Inortix1 karma

I haven't; definitely gonna check it out

manbearpigslayer1 karma

What do you miss the most about Zimbabwe?

My best memories of Zimbabwe are of weekend trips to Vic Falls and Hwange, (we lived just over the border in Botswana), but one of my favourite thing to do as a kid was climb koppies looking for snakes.

Inortix1 karma

The Matopos.... Hundreds of square kilometers of rolling koppies Also friends and family

likeawisper1 karma

Got any pictures to share?

Inortix1 karma

Sure! Some cave paintings; http://imgur.com/Ykfim0Q The Matopos National Park: http://imgur.com/RFqXxYV Dassies: http://imgur.com/Dgd99fx

metatime1 karma

Which languages do you speak?

Inortix1 karma

English is the only language I speak fluently though I still remember a bit of Ndebele and Afrikaans