Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (pictured) has annoyed many Jamaicans for disparaging comments he reportedly made about Jamaicans during a speech last week at a university, according to the U.K. Daily Mail.
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At the University of Zimbabwe, Mugabe reportedly alternated between English and native language Shona, while airing negative observations he had about one of the Caribbean’s proudest islands.
The U.K. Daily Mail reports:
He [Mugabe] claimed they [Jamaicans] had ‘no interest in higher education’ and are ‘always drunk’, during his controversial speech last week at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.
‘The men want to sing and do not go to colleges, some are dreadlocked, let us not go there,’ said Mugabe in several unscripted asides.
Reportedly, this isn’t the first time Mugabe has shown disdain toward those who wear dreadlocks. In the past, Mugabe allegedly said that Rastafarians had “moths and mud” in their hair.
While Mugabe’s alleged comments haven’t been officially verified yet, the comments have caused a rousing debate in Jamaica. From high-level government workers to common residents, many found the comments offensive and stereotypical.
Jamaica Labor Party Spokeswoman Olivia Grange said, “If true, it is startling that someone who has himself claimed that his country is a victim of imperceptions [sic] fed by the international media should be using these misconceptions of Jamaican society to describe our people,” while Father of two Glen Harris complained, “This is an African leader talking like this? Black man [sic] should stick up for each other. We’re all Africans.”
But this sentiment wasn’t unanimous.
University administrator Vincent Peterkin believed that Mugabe may be shedding light on some uncomfortable truths, “Is President Robert Mugabe really on to something? Certainly, his observation that our ‘universities are full of women’ while our ‘men want to sing and do not go to colleges’ is a truism, which none can deny.”
Indeed, while there is always some truth to a stereotype, most know that blanket statements about any people are unfair and prejudiced. Who remembers the ongoing joke about Jamaicans and their tireless work ethic on “In Living Color” back in the day.
Watch a clip here:
Obviously, Jamaicans are known for being hard workers too.
The U.K. Daily Mail adds:
Although some foreigners have an image of Jamaica as a laid-back, cannabis-smoking society, using the drug is illegal and many islanders are socially conservative churchgoers who quietly endure stereotypes of their country.