What a sad disgrace

Dear Family and Friends,

After a short break it's always wonderful to come home to Zimbabwe and be reminded of so many things that we take for granted, not the least of which is the balmy weather and clear blue sky.

Its that time of year when the new crop of birds have just learnt to fly and our neighbourhoods are alive with flycatchers and fire-finches, waxbills and weavers. The egrets and ibises are out of their nests, all fluffy and gangly and still screeching for free meals and the bee eaters and lilac breasted rollers are back, reminding us how lucky we are to witness this spectacle every day.

Zimbabwe is, however, a place of such contrasts that often you just shake your head and laugh at the absurdity of it all. A visiting relation phoned the airport last week to reconfirm her ticket and check on the departure time of her flight to the UK. “Aaaah,” said the woman on the Air Zimbabwe Information desk, ” just pitch up!”

We did indeed “just pitch up” as instructed and what a bleak place we found a little before midnight at our country’s ironically named International Airport.

The only thing alive was the car park – charging an outrageous US$2 for a period of less than 15 minutes. Inside the main terminal there is no departure or arrivals board, no information at all on which flights are coming or going and even the main Information and Enquires desk was closed and deserted despite the scheduled departure of an international flight. The shops were all closed too so no chance of a cold drink or newspaper or that last souvenir to buy. This is Zimbabwe’s front desk, the shop window for the world to see and what a sad disgrace it is.

Getting home from the airport a little before one in the morning, after a hair raising journey where there are no road markings, no cats eyes in the tar, no street lights and most passing vehicles with faulty, missing or non existent lights and reflectors, the delights of Zimbabwe grow dim. An enormous spider is sitting on the kitchen door.

Dark brown and very hairy and with fearsome fangs, the baboon spider is easily the size of the palm of my hand and he just sits, waiting.

This is very much the state of Zimbabwe in this first month of the new decade – we are sitting, waiting. Waiting for our leaders to stop arguing, waiting for farm grabbing to stop, waiting for law and order to be restored and waiting for a new constitution leading to a free and fair election. An election where winners are winners and take power and losers are losers and step down.

Despite all our troubles here, our hearts go out to the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake, our thoughts are with them.

Until next week, thanks for reading, ndini shamwari yenyu.

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