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


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Raucous, scolding Francolin
January 7, 2012, 9:56 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Finding a wild Flame Lily to welcome the New Year was a difficult task this year. Normally they are all over the bush by late December, glorious flashes of crimson in knee-high, lush green grass. This year, after a decade of completely out of control, illegal cultivation, the search was a difficult one. All my usual peri-urban haunts yielded nothing. Stretches of open grassland, between rocky outcrops, in old quarries, the edge of vleis and in the scrub near streambanks – all have been dug up and planted with maize, sweet potatoes, nuts, beans and sugar cane. In the process of searching I became reacquainted with the striking blue of the Woodland Kingfisher with its enormous red beak, the bright yellows and reds of Masked Weavers and Red Bishop Birds and the raucous, scolding, chattering of a Redbilled Francolin. At last I came upon a Flame Lily. Deep crimson, ablaze with fiery yellow at the base of the flower, fading into a delicate, yellow outline along the wavy edge of the petals. What a sight to welcome 2012.

The madness wasn’t far behind. Hardly had we drawn the first breath of the New Year into our lungs than the absurdities of the never ending struggle for political power engulfed our lives again.

First came the news that the country’s leading timber producer, Border Timbers is facing closure. 2,500 hectares of prime timber plantations in Chimanimani have been invaded by people from surrounding areas. An Estate Manager said the invasions were being co-ordinated by politicians and that people were simply walking into the plantations and “parcelling themselves pieces of land.” The invaders were cutting down the trees and planting little squares of maize and rapoko. The impact of cropping on mountainous plantations, with their fragile, porous soils is devastating. The Estate Manager said that repeated appeals for intervention to the government’s Environmental Management Agency had yielded nothing. A councillor for the Chimanimani area said he had moved a motion in Council for the invaders to be evicted from the timber plantations but this had failed because: “our colleagues from Zanu (PF) are against the idea.”

Next came the unbelievable news that the Minister of Transport had issued a circular ordering Air Zimbabwe to stop flying to South Africa, obviously to try and stop the planes from being seized by creditors. The suspension of flights followed the Christmas from hell for both Air Zim and their passengers after a plane was impounded in the UK over unpaid debts and passengers were left stranded at Gatwick airport for over a week. The CEO of Air Zimbabwe said that now the national airline was waiting for government to pay their debts for them. (Again)

Then came the most despicable news of the week. Eighty Anglican Clergymen who had gathered for a week long prayer retreat at Peterhouse School in Marondera, were ordered to leave by the police. Told they needed police permission to meet at the private school, the Clergymen refused to leave saying they weren’t breaking any laws. The next day the police were back. The spokesman for the Harare Bishop said: “This morning police returned with re-enforcements and threatened to arrest men of God, including the Bishops, if they did not leave immediately.” First they lost their churches, then their church assets, then the people they were helping were evicted from church orphanages and homes and now it seems these Anglicans may not even meet on private property to pray together.

More madness followed: war veterans demanding parliament be closed, teachers threatening to strike, the constitutional process on the verge of collapse and then the jamming of Short Wave Radio Africa’s broadcast on the 4th of January. Oh poor Zimbabwe, when will it ever end. How we long for a normal life again. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



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