Sunday, September 16, 2007


Zimbzbwe burning

Dear Family and Friends,
Day after day Zimbabwe is on fire. Smoke rises in almost every direction, the wind carries trails of black debris and every evening the sky is smudged with ash. Night after night there is a great orange glow on the horizon and long after the moon and stars are overhead the fires continue to burn unchecked and out of control.
Out on an early morning errand this week I stopped as a Slender Mongoose ran out into the road. We stared at each other for a minute or two and it was a breathtaking sight. The dawn sun highlighted the depth of colour of his rich chestnut fur. The little mammal stood quite still on the tarmac, his black-tipped tail lifted slighted, ready to run. Then as suddenly as it had appeared, the mongoose was gone - running off into the only patch of sunburnt vegetation still left in the nearby grassland. This little African mammal, once a common sight but now rarely seen, is surviving against all odds.
About two hundred metres along the road I passed two men who were carrying sickles and had catapults hanging round their necks. They were accompanied by a pack of hunting dogs who trotted all around them. The intention of their outing was obvious - the sickles to cut grass used to lay lines of fires, the catapults to kill birds, the dogs to catch mice and other small animals that flee from the flames. In an hour or two these men will destroy huge swathes of vegetation,
remove essential habitat for birds and mammals and from the devastation will perhaps get enough meat for one meal. Their activities go unchecked and when they've had enough the men and their dogs head home leaving the fires to burn themselves out, sometimes many kilometres away.
Arriving at my destination I sat across the desk from a smartly dressed woman in her office. As I conducted my business we asked the questions all Zimbabweans are asking each other: have you got water today? Is your electricity on this morning? Have you managed to find bread? All the answers to all the questions were the same from both of us: no! We agreed that things were now 'very hard' in Zimbabwe but to an outsider this would undoubtedly be the understatement of all time. We have got up to find no water in the tap to drink, to bathe or to wash our clothes; we've got no electricity to cook food and no bread, cereal or milk to give to our families for breakfast. Despite it all and against all odds, Zimbabweans are still carrying on: clean, polite, hardworking, dedicated - a credit to a country so close to the edge.
At the end of three days of sixteen hour power cuts this week I finally heard the news that has given Zimbabwe such a lift. Against all the odds and with nothing in their favour, Zimbabwe beat Australia in the 20/20 cricket world cup. Patriotism burns strong, very strong, in our hearts and gives belief that against all odds, we will emerge from these darkest of days.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Copyright cathy buckle. 15 September
My books: "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available in South
Africa from: and in the UK from:

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