Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Shooting stars and satellites
April 16, 2011, 9:05 am


Dear Family and Friends,

As Zimbabwe arrives at its 31st anniversary of Independence, the first pre-winter cold snap descended on many parts of the country. It came with thick grey clouds, an icy wind and slanting rain. In my home town, day time temperatures dropped from 25 to 14 degrees Centigrade in a visible plunge of the thermometer. Out came jerseys, socks and extra blankets and the knowledge that winter is drawing closer.

I would love to be able to write that 31 years of Independence have bought tranquillity and bountiful prosperity to Zimbabwe but sadly that is very far from the reality on the ground. But instead of doom and gloom, I paint you a simple picture of our beautiful country in the 31st year of Independence from Britain.

Zimbabwe’s Independence heralds the time of year when the rain stops, the clouds disappear and we are left with big, bright blue skies stretching to all horizons. It’s the time of year when green, lush grass is replaced with golden fields and the views across open bush are of spectacular savannas and shimmering plains. In amongst the bronze grasses are startling patches of purple and red – the flowering seed heads of Natal grass. The roadside Cosmos flowers which have given us a gorgeous three month extravaganza of pink and white, are coming to an end, their seeds now being feasted on by birds fattening up for winter. Big, gaudy, blue headed lizards are back; scuttling up and down tree trunks in search of food and mates. The first of the termite trails of red soil have started rising up the tree trunks, a sure sign that the dry season has arrived.

Mid April is the time of thick, tall lengths of purple sugar cane for sale on the roadsides and enormous watermelons with dripping red flesh and a million shiny black seeds. It’s the time of year when the maize crop is drying and roadside plots are full of people gathering cobs or putting plants into triangular stooks for the final drying before harvesting begins. 

Independence time is the season when the days are getting shorter, the sunsets are bright orange and shiny copper and the night skies are a wondrous spectacle. It’s the perfect time of year for watching for shooting stars and for satellites tracing across the darkness. It’s also the time of year when the mosquitoes finally start to die down and let us sleep in peace.

This 31st anniversary of Independence a Spotted Eagle Owl has taken to sitting on top of a street light outside my house in the evenings. Not long after the sun slips into the horizon, the owl arrives, gliding on silent wings to its perch overlooking the neighbourhood. The street light hasn’t worked for at least six years now, perhaps if it did I wouldn’t have the delight of owl spotting! The owl is a very handsome creature, sitting completely still as the last caramel glow of sunset fades from the sky and the bird becomes a silhouette in the twilight. A pair of nightjars with their new young fledgling, swirl and circle, snatching up the last of the day’s insects and the Owl sits unmoving, regal, watching over the countryside.

I end with a message of support for Father Mkandla, the head of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Hwange. The co-minister of National Healing and Reconciliation said that Father Mkandla was arrested on Wednesday evening at his home soon after a meeting at which he had delivered a powerful sermon on violence. This is the face of Zimbabwe, 31 years after Independence. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy

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