Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter From Zimbabwe !

Dignity and Freedom
Sunday 28th October 2007

Dear Family and Friends,

The first real rain of the new season fell this week and it came with a bang. In the distance the rolling rumble of thunder got louder as the storm drew closer. The sky grew darker, the clouds dropped lower and then the birds went quiet - a sure sign that it was about to start. The noise soon built to tremendous levels and the flashes of lightning were instantly followed by cracks of explosive, roaring thunder - the storm was directly overhead. A strange orange, yellow cloud formed in the sky - a warning of ice for sure. Two shirtless men who had been toiling for most of the day down in the riverbed ran up to the road and raced for cover, using their buckets as umbrellas. The pair have become a feature of the neighbourhood this summer. They collect water from a pool they have dug in the almost dry riverbed that runs through a nearby vlei. The water is murky and the buckets are edged with mud but there is a continuous demand from urban neighbourhoods where water is usually only available for a couple of hours a day, and somedays not at all. The men fill buckets, decant them into twenty litre containers, load them onto a hand cart and then sell them in the neighbourhoods to those most desperate.

Moments after the water gatherers had taken cover the rain began, coming in thin slanting sheets at first but then overtaken by a rush of hail stones. The pea sized white balls skipped off the roof and lay on the ground giving a temporary white landscape which soon melted. When the hail slowed the torrents of rain moved in - big drops pelting down, bringing relief to the land and giving hope that always comes with a new season. Two inches (50ml) of rain fell in the first hour, accompanied by brilliant streaks of white fork lightning coursing through the sky, so close as to make your hair stand on end.

When it was over, seemingly from nowhere, came the summer regulars: Sausage flies, Dragon flies, Chongololos, Flying ants and the big black biting ants that give off a foul smell which we called Matabele Ants when we were kids. From unknown places a myriad crickets, cicadas and frogs have emerged to sing and screech and fill the air with the sound of Africa. The hard, baked ground has come back to life instantly and there is a new, soft spring underfoot. Almost overnight a flush of green has risen in the bush, on the roadsides and across our gardens. The barren, burnt landscape, ravaged by a devastating season of bush fires, can breathe again - you can almost feel the relief. The wild flowers that stood so starkly in the sand and ash have also taken on a new fullness and more mellow colour and are a picture: dwarf red Combretums, Yellow Heads, blue Thunbergia, exquisite orange Pimpernels and the Protea bushes are covered in creamy white flowers.

Zimbabwe came back to life again this week, you can see it and feel it and smell it. And now in our newly washed land we look to our leaders and politicians to finally put an end to this time of pain and suffering and turmoil. We are not a greedy, selfish and demanding nation, we want only food in the fields, products in the shops and space to walk, talk and act with dignity and freedom. We want our families that are living such hard and lonely lives in the diaspora to come home; we want to start rebuilding our communities and neighbourhoods and to have joy in our lives again. It is not too much to ask. Perhaps this new season can be the start, the change we all so desperately want.

Until next week, thanks for reading,
love cathy.

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