By Japhet M. Zwana

He is 36 years old

He is a journalist

He is a human/ civil rights activist

He has petitioned for the resignation of President Mugabe

He has been arrested and beaten by the secret Zimbabwean security

He addressed a rally on March 8, 2015 in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and on the following day was abducted at a barber shop by five heavily armed men.

Who is he? His name is Itai Dzamara.

The world has justifiably exhibited intense indignation at the depraved slaying of the 13 year old lion known as Cecil. There is no doubt about the level of love that Zimbabweans have for this lion as they do for the other wildlife in their country. Yet they surely must wonder: why the international furor over Cecil’s demise and not that of Dzamara?

The screaming headlines in the American press said it all. They left no doubt in the public’s mind that the media considered this a grave crime against the global fauna, with headlines like ‘Killer’, ‘Heads you lose cowardly lion hunter wont get prized kill’; ‘Murderous Safari by healer’, ‘Dr. Death’; ‘America’s most hated’; ‘Lion Shame’. Some posters read, ‘ROT IN HELL, Palmer, There is a Deep Cavity waiting for you.’

Zimbabweans have a right to be confused by all the fuss about the death of a lion. Their lives matter too. Zimbabwean farmers, teachers, students, laborers, health workers, artisans, journalists, and yes, wardens in those wildlife reserves could use a little sympathy from the international community’s outreach to Zimbabwe’s rulers by pressing them to take the necessary steps to improve their lives as well. While they fully understand the excitement over the passing of one ‘royal’ lion, their immediate concern is the multitude of problems perpetrated by their oppressive regime: economic mismanagement, unemployment, lack of civil/human rights, corruption in every sector of society, high inflation, hunger and a decrepit health system.

The international community seemed eager and ready to assist the Zimbabwean government in its efforts to locate and apprehend Dr. Palmer. Ordinary Zimbabweans would welcome the same zeal in aiding the family and friends of Itai Dzamara as they seek to determine his fate. The government of Robert Mugabe will not do it unless and until it is pressured from the outside to do so. It has been five months since Dzamara disappeared. The world community that is concerned about Cecil, whose tourism value is well known, should also be making screaming noises about people like Dzamara by converging on the altar of mercy and bring pressure to bear on Zimababwe’s leaders who have taken a country that was once Africa’s brightest promise to its deepest despair.

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