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African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle


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Of lions, elephants and ordinary Zimbabweans
July 31, 2015, 6:19 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Spring has arrived in Zimbabwe and the sounds and colours of the new season are good for the soul, bringing welcome relief from the harsh, cruel realities of everyday life in a country ruled by the same person for thirty five years. Getting up before five in the morning and watching the moon turn from yellow to orange as its slips into the pre-dawn horizon, you can’t help but be humbled by the sheer majesty on your doorstep. When the sun burns off the mist, your eyes are drawn to the instantly recognizable umbrella-shaped Acacia trees covered in curly light brown pods, the Lourie singing its dawn chorus or the Lucky Bean trees, stark and leafless but covered in scarlet flowers. As you start out on your day, knowing for sure you’ll come face to face with corruption, incompetence and greed, you take one last look at the beauty: the grass is tall and golden, the sky is clear and blue and everywhere the songs of orioles, hoopoes and starlings fill the dusty spring air.

Then there’s the  ugly side to our spring paradise, something that can only be described as a moral bankruptcy in a country so beautiful. Imagine a country where 90% of the population are unemployed; where hundreds of thousands of people sit on the pavement all day selling tomatoes or bananas, clothes or cell phone chargers. Imagine knowing that for protesting you can be snatched from a barber shop, handcuffed in broad daylight and then simply disappear. Imagine living in a country where a third of the population either live in the Diaspora and send money home or commute backwards and forwards every month, buying and selling anything and everything, so as to pay rent and keep children in school.

Then imagine a country where baby elephants are captured in the wild, separated from their mothers and family units and sent to zoos in China;  where  a collared lion is lured out of a game park so  that it can be shot with a crossbow by a tourist.  These two incidents that made it into the news in recent weeks are the tip of an enormous iceberg when it comes to the plight of Zimbabwe’s wildlife. What will be left of our lions, elephants and other animals that walk free in Zimbabwe’s  golden grass? What will be left for the world’s grandchildren to see?

The painful reality is that this all this suffering, by both people and animals, goes on largely unnoticed by a leadership in Zimbabwe which is obsessed with itself, mired in greed, corruption, opulence and power struggles.

‘Cecil’ the lion, 24 baby elephants, 4 million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, 8 million Zimbabweans at home: we are all the same in that we are totally dependent on a morally bankrupt leadership. President Obama said in Addis Ababa this week: “Your dignity depends on my dignity, and my dignity depends on yours.” Zimbabwe seems light years away from the mantra of mutual dignity.

Cecil the lion has put Zimbabwe back in the world spotlight and for that we are grateful because we have endured so much, for so long. I end with news that my new book, Sleeping Like a Hare is now available, presenting a completely different side to the Zimbabwe story. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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