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The rare sound of satisfaction
April 17, 2014, 12:03 pm

 

Dear Family and Friends,

This is not my usual letter about events in Zimbabwe because frankly we’re all sick to death of reading, writing and talking about the excesses of our leaders; the corruption and political infighting. We’re sickened at every obscene new government- linked salary scandal while ordinary companies just can’t cope and are closing down at an alarming rate. We’re chilled at the huge number of people being made redundant every month while the politicians argue amongst themselves at the country’s expense but for this moment in our lives, we’re just taking a Time Out.

It’s Easter and our 34rd anniversary of Independence this weekend. There’s a thick, wet mist almost up to the front door in my home town as I write this letter. We’ve had a  trio of seasons in the last week, swinging  from autumn to summer and back to winter until we’re totally confused.  Blankets, jerseys and trousers one day; sandals and short sleeves the next.  As each new wave of cold, wet mist sweeps in and hangs around longer every morning we know that winter draws ever closer. Outside in our gardens the birds already know. There’s an end of season frenzy underway: mums stuffing seeds into the yellow gaped mouths of young fledglings; mannikins re-lining abandoned nests with soft pampas-grass fluff; sunbirds gorging on nectar from newly flowering Aloes;  ground birds wrestling insects out of rapidly hardening ground. The winter birds are suddenly running on our lawns too: thrushes, hoopoes and drongos all overseen by the ever patient, watchful gaze of woodland kingfishers.

It’s not just in our gardens that there’s a frenzy of activity this Easter and Independence weekend.  It’s harvesting time and everywhere you look there’s movement and rustling in the little maize fields that everyone plants to survive the uncertainties of Zimbabwe.  Some people are picking from stooks they made a couple of weeks ago while others are harvesting  straight from the fields.  This is the rare sound of satisfaction in Zimbabwe: the snap of the cob from the dry stalk; the thud of the corn onto the pile on the ground,  and latter the chattering, tired voices as people call out to each other as they trudge home at dusk carrying heavy sacks.  At each appearance of blue sky the maize cobs are tipped out and laid in the sun to dry: on verandas, driveways and on people’s roofs.     

It’s the time of year when newly dug sweet potatoes  and just harvested ground nuts (which most of us less young Zims still call monkey nuts) are being offered for sale by roadside vendors. It’s the time of year when people lucky enough to have jobs, get to go home and spend a few days with their families. Asking a man if he was going to his kumusha for Easter he grinned and said he was but that  there won’t be much resting time. He plans to spend every minute out in the fields harvesting  two acres of maize planted five months ago.

‘What about Independence Day?’ I asked. ‘No time for that,’ he replied ‘I’ll be too busy but I’ve paid what they told me.’ This year one US dollar and a large enamel  cup of ground maize is the price  every rural family in my area has to pay for  Independence gatherings.  And they pay.

To all Zimbabweans and our friends, wherever you are in the world,  Happy Independence, Happy Easter, good harvests and safe journeys. Thanks for reading. Until next time, love cathy.



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