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


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The Forgotten Ones
September 15, 2012, 7:48 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

So many things aren’t often talked about in Zimbabwe anymore. Things like what happened to the families of at least four thousand people who died of cholera. Or what happened to the estimated three hundred thousand farm workers who lost their jobs and homes during land seizures or what happened to all the children who used to go to little farm schools. As the country’s media is dominated with topics about political power struggles, elections, the draft constitution, and the private relationships of the Prime Minister, the people who suffered the most in the last thirteen years have become the forgotten ones.

There’s a very sad case underway at the moment involving a senior female prison officer who is trying to evict a teacher who lives in a house in the farm compound and teaches at the farm school. There are no smoke screens of race or indigenisation to hide behind such as there have been in hundreds of other farm evictions since 2000. In this case the teacher, Edwin Maseva, is one of three teachers employed by the Ministry of Education to educate one hundred junior school children  at Makumimavi Primary School.  The female prison officer was given the farm under Zanu PF’s land redistribution and she wants the teachers out.  Mr Maseva is facing criminal proceedings for resisting attempts to evict him from the compound  which is reserved for teachers accommodation. Parents of children at the primary school have apparently appealed to the President, Prime Minister and Ministries of Education and Land  without success. Now the matter is being battled out in court with the help of  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. It is quite clear that once the teachers are gone the school will cease to be functional and one hundred children will join the ranks of the forgotten ones.

Another subject not often talked about is the fate of farm workers who lives have been torn apart by the farm invasions and the horrific political violence in 2008 leaving them and their families traumatized and destitute. It’s hard to believe that a home-made, wooden go- kart, pulled by a kite would embark on an expedition to highlight the plight of those farm workers but it did. 

Armed with 50 litres of water, a map, GPS and a few essentials, Ben Freeth and his two sons, Joshua (12) and Stephen(10) set sail across the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana  these last school holidays. The boys  called the go-kart the ‘Mike Campbell Dune Dancer’ in honour of their grandfather who  fought tirelessly for justice and the protection of human rights taking the case of farm seizures all the way to the SADC Tribunal. The account of Ben, Josh and Stephen’s expedition is a delight to read, from the first practice runs in an Harare car park to watching shooting stars and eating sticky gingerbread in a vast, deserted sand-scape. 

‘There is a certain discipline about moving onwards towards nothing,’ Ben says in his account and the words ring very true for Zimbabweans who for so long have been striving to get to the end of this vast tunnel we’ve been stuck in for thirteen years. The all too brief account of the ‘Mike Campbell Dune Dancer’ expedition and a few photographs is on my website at the following link http://www.cathybuckle.com/Ben-Freeth.php along with details of the Mike Campbell Foundation: ‘rebuilding shattered lives in Zimbabwe and protecting people’s rights.’ 

From a teacher on a farm school , to a dispossessed farmer and his sons on a Botswana salt pan, these are the voices fighting for the ‘forgotten ones.’ If not them, then who?  Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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