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


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Whispers in the pine needles
January 22, 2011, 10:46 am

 

 

Dear Family and Friends,

There is a natural swimming pool on a cold mountain river in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands. At a spot where the Inyangombe River cavorts over an outcrop of smooth, weathered, brown rocks, the river settles briefly into a pool below the waterfalls. Sometime in the past, many decades ago, river sand was brought in and deposited on the banks, creating a perfect beach.  The water in the pool is clear and cold, the river base covered in smooth pebbles and when the wind blows in the branches of the overhanging trees and whispers in the pine needles, you can’t help but forget the absurdity of current affairs in Zimbabwe.

When a friend got a hole in the exhaust pipe of his car this week, a simple job turned into a marathon. A visit to a local garage, line the vehicle up, drive onto the ramp and then wait while the car is elevated a couple of metres off the ground and the repair is undertaken. No problem you say? Ah, but only as long as the electricity stays on! Twenty minutes into the job the electricity went off, the car was left stranded 2 metres off the ground. Closing time approached and my friend got anxious. “What about my car,” he asked?

“Nothing to do” the mechanic replied, “I’ve got no way of getting it down. It’ll have to stay there till tomorrow.”

“Haven’t you got a generator?” my friend asked, his wallet, ID and house keys were all locked inside the car which was hanging over his head. The generator wasn’t powerful enough to run the elevator ramp and so the workshop was closed up till the next morning.

Long before opening time my friend was back at the garage. The electricity had come on overnight when no one was around but had gone off again at 5 in the morning.

Close your eyes, can you hear the wind in the pine trees above the Inyangombe River, I thought to myself as I heard the story.

8 o’clock came, 9, 10 and then finally at 11 in the morning the electricity flickered back into life. A simple 15 minute job had taken 19 hours and the loss of business incurred by my friend and the garage owner another incalculable drain on our stone broke, impoverished country.

Every day brings to light another absurdity in Zimbabwe, never more so than now as talk of elections gains momentum. I could hardly believe news reports that a convicted rapist, the leader of an Apostolic Church, has just been released from prison 13 years early because he’s got high blood pressure. My own blood pressure soared at the news, particularly because this church man has long been an outspoken supporter and campaigner for Zanu PF. “High blood pressure!” still the words echo in my head as I close my eyes for a moment and listen for the hiss of the Inyangombe River tumbling over the rocks.

Then came the staggering news from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network who have been conducting research into the state of Zimbabwe’s voters role. One of their findings is that a third of the registered names on the voters roll are of dead people. They also say that 2,344 names belong to people aged between 100 and 110 and that 9 names  are of people apparently aged between 111 and 130 years. This in a country where life expectancy is less than 40 years, leaves us all in no doubt that without a new voters roll, change is certainly not coming to Zimbabwe anytime soon. Are you listening Mr Zuma, SADC and the AU?

Oh to sit on the beach alongside a clear, cool mountainous pool!

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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