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


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The Emperor's Cloak
August 13, 2011, 11:01 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

A few minutes after starting this letter, I kept hearing the sound of something hard hitting my roof. At first I thought it was one of the little tree squirrels that have taken up residence on my roof this winter. When the days became shorter and colder one squirrel arrived and settled in. Every morning, soon after the sun touched the roof, the little Tsindi set off on its rounds. Leaping from the roof onto low hanging branches of an Avocado Pear tree, scampering along the wall and running nimbly along lichen covered Msasa branches. This was the morning patrol: the squirrel inspecting its territory. Throughout the day the squirrel was busy, running backwards and forwards, chasing off a challenger and then courting a female. Clicking, chattering and chirruping, they chased each other over the roof and it wasn’t long before they were carrying leaves to a nest they built under a protected overhang near a gutter. Inevitably the squirrels grew bolder as the days passed: sunbathing on the roof, fiddling around on the lawn, a bushy tail flicking seductively at my exasperated dogs who stood quivering below. The dogs were taunted to distraction until this week one little squirrel met its end. Another one remains, and probably babies too, but the frenzy overhead is distinctly muted so I knew that wasn’t the cause of the noise on my roof.

After one distinct crack on my roof which was just too close for comfort, I went outside to investigate and soon spotted the young teenage boy. Perhaps thirteen or fourteen years old he had a catapult in his hand. His weapon was home-made: a forked stick, a strip of bicycle inner tubing and a pocketful of stones. I called out to him immediately to stop throwing stones.

Instead of getting the expected reaction of giggling and running away, the youngster stared straight at me, a look of arrogance and defiance in his eyes. Perhaps he’d been watching the English kids looting, I thought. Pointedly he put a stone in the catapult, lifted his arm and aimed.

‘No!’ I shouted, pointing a finger at him.

The youngster stared at me for a few long seconds, before dropping his gaze and walking away.

After watching the horrific looting, burning and rampaging of youngsters in England, it has been very hard not to compare their behaviour to that we have regularly seen in Zimbabwe in recent years. Here they call it political and the perpetrators get away it but behind that Emperors cloak it is plain and simple criminality and everyone knows it. It doesn’t matter where it is happening, who the victims are or why; the adjectives and emotions are the same: selfish, senseless, barbaric.

For the first time in eleven years we got a taste of how it must have felt for our family and friends outside the country. To watch from afar and to feel so helpless. Our hearts go out to people who have had their property destroyed and burnt, their assets looted and their homes lost. We know how you feel, we empathise and hope that justice and compensation will be swift.

For eleven years we’ve been waiting for justice and compensation but they have not come and it continues to be a festering wound in our nation. As a country we cannot heal while people who looted, raped, tortured, murdered and burnt still walk free amongst us. We know who they are, what they look like and even where they live but the Police say ‘it is political’ and they do nothing. How different Zimbabwe could be if the perpetrators of crimes were held accountable and punished for their actions. And so, while the squirrels scamper overhead and winter draws to an end, we watch, we wait and always we hope. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



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