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


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Snakes, eels and burning maize bags
June 30, 2012, 9:19 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Standing on a bridge, looking down into a cold mountain river, I wondered what the chances were of seeing a trout. It was a quiet winters morning in an uninhabited area and my patience was rewarded, not with a fish but with a reptile. A thin green snake swam across the river, sliding on the surface of the water, from one bank to the other. At the far side, the snake struggled to get a grip on the slippery bank before disappearing into the bush. It had all happened so fast that for a moment I wondered if it had been an illusion. Walking away from the river along a red dirt road, square chips of mica sparkled and glistened where they lay amongst the dust and stones. Turning off the road onto a narrow little path which wound around tussocks of sun bleached grass and dry, scratchy shrubs, another surprise awaited. Right there, in the middle of the path, was a great excavation: a pile of red soil alongside a deep, angled hole which you could not see the bottom of. This was an Antbear hole but could just as well be hiding some other creature and its innocent appearance was as much of a deception as the swimming snake and shining mica sparkling in the dust.

A little later, near a pool in the river, a sudden movement in the water caught my eye. It was an eel and within seconds disbelief was confirmed as a few of us gathered at the water’s edge to witness this rare sight. Over a metre long, the African mottled eel swirled and twisted in the crystal clear, mountain water. For a few seconds the eel lay still in a patch of sunlit water, cameras clicked madly, capturing a memory that will long be cherished.

Back in the real world, newspapers and emails provided the contrasting image of Zimbabwe – the one we struggle to live in and survive every day. One news report told of Russia holding negotiations to supply us with military helicopters in exchange for platinum mining rights in the Darwendale area of Zimbabwe. It’s impossible to understand moves likes this which are in direct contradiction to the incessant propaganda about indigenisation and the mantra that Zimbabwe’s resources, in, on and under the ground, are only for indigenous, black skinned Zimbabweans. Another report told of 300,000 tonnes of maize recently imported from Zambia. The irony was that the maize had been grown in Zambia by Zimbabwean farmers who had been evicted from their farms and had their property seized by the Zimbabwe government in the last decade. The Zambian grain is being given out to rural Zimbabweans by the government’s GMB (Grain Marketing Board) in a grain loan scheme. One rural recipient described bags of grain he received which had stickers with the name and address of the grower – a dispossessed ex Karoi farmer now producing food in Zambia. The sad story got worse with a statement from a source in the GMB who said they had now been ordered to repackage the imported maize and destroy the Zambian bags which showed the identity of the growers.

Finally, came the photograph taken recently of our town’s fire engine. The fire department to whom all of the town’s residents are required to each pay a monthly levy of US$ 1.82, was hard at work. They weren’t busy extinguishing a blaze but with carrying people. The double cab of the fire engine was so full of people that more had perched on top. Four people, in their own clothes, are clearly visible sitting on top of the fire engine as it stopped to cross an intersection in the town. And this is what we are all paying a ‘fire levy for?’

After a week of swimming snakes, antbears and eels followed by Russians, helicopter gunships, burning maize bags and passengers sitting on top of the fire engine – you have to wonder what is reality and what is illusion. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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