Glimpses of Zimbabwe on its 37th Independence Day

Dear Family and Friends

In a few days Zimbabwe will commemorate its 37th anniversary of Independence. It would be easy to write a letter with all the facts and figures of the sad, shameful state we find ourselves and our country in. A letter about 90%unemployment and company closures, about 80% food imports and an economy in a state of collapse, about banks with no money, huge government debt and rampant corruption. It would be easy to write about our country’s ruling political party and our 93 year old President, both in power for all 37 years of our Independence, but Zimbabwe is not all about them, it’s about us, ordinary people living through extraordinary times.

37 years after Independence and 17 years after I started writing these eye witness accounts of life in Zimbabwe, this seems an opportune time to describe some of the sights, funny, beautiful , sad and ironic that together depict this wonderful place called home. Here are some glimpses:

Lying on a leafy branch low down in tree a snake lies coiled in the sunshine; its colours startling, shining, alarming; its neck and head lifted: listening, watching, waiting.

Kneeling on the side of the road on a main highway, wearing shorts and a suit jacket, a boy arranges tomatoes for sale in a small tin bowl as if his life depends on it, and you know it does.

In the deep, damp sand on the side of a remote road, the story of the night told in footprints: a baboon, buffalo and waterbuck, and in the slippery mud near the river a hippo’s big clumpy track.

On a dam, far from shore, a man in a home-made boat: a tyre tube, a few sticks, a home made paddle and fishing rod: a day in the sun, getting food for his family.

High up on the underside of a Musasa tree branch, hairy caterpillars lie side by side, bright orange and lime green, dew drops glistening on the tips of their hairs early in the morning.

On the side of the town’s dustbin truck the legend: “Vibrant City of Excellence.” Such irony in a town awash with dumped garbage, pot-holes, non functioning street lights and water that only comes out of taps once or twice a week.

A dragon fly whose sky blue body, intricate black lace wings and enormous black globe eyes causes you to hold your breath lest it fly away before you’ve absorbed the vision.

A man and a woman, knee deep in a river, going fishing at dusk. He with a fishing rod and a plastic tub of worms on a string around his neck; she with a tin cup, a sack and a bamboo fishing rod.

On the overhang of a cave, ancient rock paintings: glimpses of our ancestors and what life was like here before us: hunters and hunted; mythical creatures, ancient beings. In the corner on the ground a small clay pot for you to leave your offering, to the ancestors and also to the modern day keeper of this national treasure.

Happy 37th Independence Zimbabwe. We, the real people, living the real, honest, upright lives in this unbelievable time in our beautiful country, will prevail. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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