The red soil of hope for a New Zimbabwe

Dear Family and Friends,

e“The taste of freedom was on our lips and in our hearts today,”
those were my words on the 18th November 2017 when I last wrote to you
from Zimbabwe. That had been the day that broke the iron band of
oppression and fear that had been suffocating us for 37 years. The day
when we all stood together regardless of age, colour or political
affiliation; the day we finally said we’d had enough of Mr Mugabe.

After two months away and with the euphoria of the Nov 18th Freedom
March still simmering tantalizingly on my mind, what was I going to
find on my return to Zimbabwe in late January 2018?

“Hello Mrs Buckle! Welcome Home. I like your writing very much!”
an Immigration official said to me as I handed my passport over to be
stamped at Harare airport. WOW, I was home and it felt so good!

In recent weeks a delegate at the Davos conference described us as a
“different Zimbabwe,” while America’s President Trump called us
and others the “s**t hole nations of the world.”

Either way, whatever you want to call us, I can’t tell you how
wonderful it was to see a bright blue sky and feel the warm Zimbabwean
sun on my shoulders when I returned to my country after two months
away. How good it was to see smiling, friendly people, to feel that
warm, welcoming, African handshake: hands, thumbs, hands. How good it
was to see that a spark of hope remains and that patience prevails
amongst ordinary people, despite how much we want a New Zimbabwe and
not just a Different Zimbabwe.

On the hundred kilometer journey from airport to home it was wonderful
not to see any police roadblocks. They weren’t hovering like
vultures with their pernicious home-made spikes; they weren’t
impeding the flow of traffic across the bridge; they weren’t under
the big, beautiful fig tree; they weren’t standing in the road
pointing at you to pull off so they could harass and harangue you,
looking for a bribe. Their absence gave a small glimpse of this
Different Zimbabwe and maybe a taste of what a New Zimbabwe, when we
finally get there, will be like.

In my first week home I couldn’t get over the feeling that
everything had changed but nothing has changed. The banks still
haven’t got money, people haven’t got jobs, and everyone’s
frantically trying to keep their heads above water, keep their jobs,
keep their businesses open.

I visited the family who had been violently evicted from their Rusape
Farm after it was seized by an Evangelical Bishop in 2017. While I was
away I heard they had been in the right place at the right time;
somehow managing to get permission from the new administration to go
back to their farm. Spellbound, I listened to their amazing story:
invaders evicted when police did their job (for the first time in 17
on farms); government ministers, (who’ve turned a blind eye for 17
years), suddenly saying that farmers with white skin are welcome, that
they want all farmers, regardless of their skin colour. With tears in
my eyes I watched the video clips of the Smart family being welcomed
back onto their land by the farm workers and villagers, and I watched
the red soil being turned over by the ploughs and their new crop being
planted. Was that the red soil of hope leading us to a really New
Zimbabwe I wondered?

Zimbabwe has got a long way to go. Elections are on the horizon. We
await democracy, accountability, justice and a complete end to
corruption. None of these things will come unless all Zimbabweans, at
home and in the Diaspora, step forward, speak out, and break the
punitive cycle of 37 years.

I am delighted to announce that my books are now available from an
international print on demand publisher with worldwide delivery. Since
Zimbabwe increased postage by 400% two years ago, my books have been
pushed to unaffordable levels with the postage costing more than the
books themselves. The following titles are now available at reasonable
rates from http://www.lulu.com
: “Can you Hear the Drums,” “Millions Billions Trillions,”
“ Sleeping Like a Hare” and “Rundi.” My other titles will
follow in the coming weeks.

Thank you for following my letters for seventeen years, for supporting
my books, for your messages of comfort, compassion and empathy, for
never giving up on Zimbabwe and for helping me to keep hope alive.
Your messages have given me strength and the courage to keep going.
Until next time, love cathy 2nd February 2018. Copyright � Cathy
Buckle. www.cathybuckle.com <http://www.cathybuckle.com/>

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