Evan Lieberman is blogging
The interesting news this week is Morgan Tsvangirai’s bold statement that he would support gay rights in Zimbabwe were he to become president. In the BBC story and interview, not only did Tsvangirai reverse his 2010 statement on the issue — agreeing with Mugabe’s view on the matter — but he proclaimed that this was a “human right.”
For some time, I have been trying to find the time to do some systematic research explaining cross-country variation on attitudes and policies towards gays… and I am still trying. In the meantime, I would love to know what led Tsvangirai to make this statement — one that is clearly not going to score him any important political points at election time next year.
That is from a recent post, “Gay rights in Africa, Zimbabwe,” by Evan Lieberman, Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University. Evan is blogging on a variety of issues that should be of interest to those who study/work in politics, development and/or Africa. Apparently, he started some time earlier this year, with the intention of discussing topics relevant to governance and development.
Perhaps my favorite post thus far was one detailing some research in a village in Kenya, where a grad school colleague (Ruth) was assisting him:
Ruth continued and concluded the group interview, gathering the information we needed. At the end, one man stood up and said something more or less like the following: “This is a great day for our village. On this day, for the first time ever, the wazungu (white people) have come. Together, we will remember this day forever. God must have been smiling on us. We will build a primary or a secondary school and we will name it after Ruth and Evan.” We smiled. I was glad they were happy to see us. But as always, we had taken great pains to explain that we were researchers, that we would try to provide knowledge to the wider world about the challenges they faced, and we hoped that out of our work would come some positive benefits. But we were not providers of goods or services and could not arrange for such provisions. People said they truly understood. But nonetheless, the hopes for something else were still there. The ethical dilemmas of doing research, frankly of doing anything in these communities, are ever-present. Just because the education is so poor, and we could see that first-hand, does not imply it was our responsibility to fix it. But it’s also heartbreaking to see the problems, to get back in our car, and to drive away.