Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

A large black snake showed up in my garden this week. I believe it was an Egyptian Cobra and it seemed to come from no where and without any warning. It's that time of year when animal encounters increase. It is wet, hot and humid and there is thick, tall bush everywhere you look - including on un-mown road sides and uncleared drains in the residential suburbs of the towns. I watched in horror as the snake approached my chickens. It raised its head, began to spread a hood and I could not believe that the chickens just stood there, completely still, seemingly paralyzed. The hens did not move a muscle or make a sound as death literally stared them in the face. I didn't wait any longer and soon the missiles began to fly. At last, perhaps buoyed by the noisy support, the hens woke up from their stupor. Feathers were ruffled, necks craned and a great clucking and alarmed babbling started up, and carried on for a considerable time. Many missiles later the snake retreated down a hole in the corner of the garden and now I know it's there but can't do anything except wait for the next encounter. The garden is tended, the grass is short and on the surface everything looks serene and peaceful, but I know its just an illusion and that at any time all hell will break loose again.

We have become a country full of illusions and this rainy season the tricks,mirrors and juggling acts are very battered indeed. In many small towns we seem to be moving perilously close to a ticking time bomb.This week on state sponsored TV came a headline report of Kwekwe town being "on the edge of collapse" as miners are digging right under the railway lines. From Bindura came news that the municipal department responsible for housing has been closed until further notice. It seems that the receipts for money being paid to the department differed hugely between the top and duplicate copies and a huge fraud has been playing out to the detriment of the town.

In Marondera when the dust bins had not been collected for three weeks recently, the local Health Inspector was contacted. He was sympathetic to the obvious effects of uncollected garbage at this time of year - the smell, flies, mosquitoes rats and health hazard but said there was nothing he could do. The fuel intended for the refuse removal trucks had been reallocated to the army for land tillage. The large government hospital, and in fact most of Marondera town, continues to have major water shortages. Public toilets at the hospital outpatients unit are closed but desperate patients continue to use them as they wait for five or more hours just to see a nurse as the doctors are still on strike. The toilet floors are apparently thick with maggots and horrors you would expect in a sewer, not a major provincial government hospital.

And so the appearance of things being under control in Zimbabwe is just ashaky illusion. Someone told me this week that there is bright light at the end of the tunnel. Its from an express train coming straight at us and we are standing right in its path, blinded by the light, unable to move. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 27January 2007. http://africantears.netfirms.com My books: "African Tears"and "Beyond Tears" are available from@ orders@africabookcentre.com Tosubscribe/unsubscribe to this newsletter, please write to: cbuckle@mango.zw--

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