ents were evacuated safely from the floor and they were even able to take their cell phones with them to call relatives. Just one person died. The fire brigade was quickly on the spot and put out the fire. The patients were gathered on the lawn and all the doctors of Bulawayo came to offer their services. As the word spread it seems the whole of Bulawayo came to see what they could do. Jews, Muslims and people of different religious and political persuasions – all rose above their differences in a moment of crisis. They brought sheets and blankets, made beds and helped clean the debris. By noon the following day all the patients, except one baby, were back in the hospital or in the adjoining convent and were being cared for as before.
Once again, as so often in history, crisis brought people together and pulled down the walls between them. ‘He has broken down the barrier which used to keep us apart’ (Ephesians 2:14). The one who shared this account with me was full of praise for everyone in Bulawayo. She feels it is a wonderful city where people are united and have a strong sense of community.
Chinua Achebe, writing about Nigerians says:
There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership.
There is nothing wrong with the people of Bulawayo or Harare or Gutu or anywhere else. Given the opportunity of responding to the crisis in our midst they would all happily rush to the scene and offer whatever help they could. But there is one thing needed: an admission that there is a crisis and a willingness to accept help in resolving it. If we go on saying: ‘Crisis! What crisis?’ and denying anything is wrong the flames simply spread.
Recently I met someone who was on the spot when a fire destroyed the top floor of Mater Dei Hospital, Bulawayo, on August 26 last year. An electrical fault is the prime suspect. But it was the outcome not the cause that gives rise to wonder.
Although the fire occurred at 10.00 at night 21 pati