Letter from Home – Good Lord deliver us


ARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt”>Dear Family and Friends,

The Litany Bird is back in my neighbourhood this week and it is cause for considerable comfort to hear its voice these evenings. The fiery-necked nightjar is a nocturnal bird and lays its eggs on the ground amongst a small scratch of leaves. Its piercing call, such a familiar Zimbabwean sound in the early evenings and on moonlit nights, is matched to the words Good Lord Deliver Us.

It is amazing that the nightjars have managed to survive another year in our dirty, plundered and ravaged semi urban environment. They have survived the fires that scorched every inch of bush six months ago. They have survived the endless flow of men, women and children who walk out into the bush every day with axes to chop trees, hoes to dig roots and packets to collect mushrooms and fruits.

The Litany Birds have miraculously survived the boys who aren’t in school anymore because the fees are just too expensive; boys who harvest birds with catapaults and boys who climb trees to take eggs and fledglings from every nest they find. The Litany Birds have also survived the unemployed men who walk into the bush in small groups every day, armed with crude home-made weapons, following packs of hunting dogs which flush out every living creature.

This February the Litany Birds are back, they have survived the piles of garbage dumped in the bush, the people and the plunder and they cry out defiantly every evening. Their voices give hope for a similar resilience for our people and country.

The call of the Litany Birds is particularly appropriate for Zimbabwe this week. Over 150 women in Bulawayo and 240 in Harare were arrested for trying to march on Valentines Day. Unarmed women, calling only for dignity and food were arrested. Some of the women carried babies, they too were taken into police cells. As I sat in the dark this week, in these evenings of incessant power cuts, I listened to the Litany Bird calling out Good Lord Deliver Us and I struggled to find peace.

It was hard not to think of ordinary women: mothers, daughters, sisters, some with babies – crammed into police cells. I feel such shame that things like this are happening in our beautiful country and so ashamed that for six years we have watched helpless, rudderless and aimless as everything has deteriorated to the most appalling levels.

This week we hear that the Gweru mortuary, which can only hold 24 bodies, has over 100 corpses in it. State media reports that the cooling plant in the mortuary has broken and that nurses and doctors are complaining of the smell. This week we hear municipal authorities in Harare blaming overflowing sewers and burst pipes in the Capital city on dumped babies and aborted foetuses. The cold, callous and inhumane way in which the reports are presented are almost as unbearable as the facts they tell of. Good Lord Deliver Us. Ndini shamwari yenyu.

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