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


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Mosquito swatters
December 11, 2010, 12:22 pm

 

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas in Zimbabwe is a sumptuous extravaganza of peaches and plums, litchis and apricots. It’s the time of flying ants and flame lilies, of dark purple skies and vivid, searing streaks of lightning crackling in the air. This year Christmas is coming with some of the most violent and torrential rain storms we have ever seen, with strong winds, hail and sheets of water covering the ground in minutes. It’s a frantic money raising time of year though, and almost as soon as each rain storm subsides the vendors emerge from cover and get back to business. All along the roads women and children sit displaying piles of tomatoes and bowls and buckets filled to overflowing with wild fruits, running out with their wares whenever a vehicle slows down.

In between the vendors and all along our highways there is a very high police presence. Sometimes its road blocks with drums, signs and cones, other times it’s a couple of police on a motorbike waving vehicles down; or a pair of police on foot standing in a lay-by who risk their lives and yours as they just step out into the road and signal for you to stop when you are on the open road travelling at 120 kilometres an hour. In the busiest locations in towns roadblocks have sprung up in the last few weeks with police accompanied by ZBC radio licence inspectors who are fining drivers and making motorists buy a full 12 month licence which is only valid till the end of the year and expires in two weeks time. None are immune from this Christmas revenue collection.

It’s the time of year when prices go up, almost overnight, as shop owners anticipate more customers and increased sales. It’s the time of year when everyone expects a Christmas bonus; a 13th cheque which is unaffordable and crippling for most employers whose businesses are struggling to stay open but it’s a payment nonetheless that most employees here have come to regard as their right.

This is the time of year when you see people trying to sell the strangest of things. This week two men outside a supermarket were selling what looked like mini tennis racquets but which had a criss-crossed wire gauze in them. “Mosquito swatters” they told me when I stopped for a second, a confused look on my face. Stranger still where the 20 kg bags of seed maize being sold in what used to Zimbabwe’s busiest book shop and stationery outlet. A shop with branches around the country whose slogan is: ‘Leading stationers to the nation,’ but which now stands almost empty stocking only a few political memoirs by Zanu PF figures, a meagre selection of stationery and of course the seed maize!  

Christmas in Zimbabwe is also the time of year when Zanu PF hold their annual congress and the rhetoric is flowing fast and furious, feeding feverishly on each new Wikileaks disclosure. The talk is of traitors and plots, of plans for regime change and at the hidden agendas of foreigners from the west. Fingers are being pointed, accusations are being made and we are being warned that Zimbabwe “will not brook any outside interference.”

This rhetoric aside, Zimbabwe is approaching Christmas 2010 with a growing sense of trepidation and unease. The warnings of what lies ahead for us in coming months as we hold elections, are growing louder by the day.  We are listening, watching and again looking over our shoulders while we try to inhale the magnificence of December in Zimbabwe.  Until next time, thanks for reading and for the wonderful response to my new book, love cathy 11th December 2010.

Copyright © Cathy Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com

For information on my new book “Imire”, about Norman Travers and Imire Game Park, or my other  books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” African Tears” and “Beyond Tears;” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter, please visit my website or contact cbuckle@zol.co.zw



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