Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter From Zimbabwe !

Hold on. Do not be afraid. Change is coming. !

Saturday 27th April 2008,

Dear Family and Friends,

I am sitting in the shade of a big old Msasa tree writing this letter by hand because yet again the electricity is off. It is a magnificent day so typical of early winter in Zimbabwe: a wide blue sky, comforting warm sun and a refreshing gentle breeze. It's hard to concentrate on telling this tragic story of events here when so many jewels are on display just a few feet away: a blue headed lizard nodding on a lichen covered branch; lines of red soil left by white ants climbing ever higher into the tree; bright orange crane flowers and an exquisite red firefinch collecting feathers and fluff for his nest. Its a deceptive paradise where violence rages just out of sight and final election results have still not been released four weeks after people voted. Its a paradise which can only momentarily take our minds off the nightmare that has become Zimbabwe.

What a disgraceful insult these 2008 elections have become to the people of Zimbabwe who have suffered so much, lost so much and yet have remained peaceful and turned the other cheek despite the most extreme provocation and deprivation. As we stand now without a parliament, with no sworn in MP's and still not knowing who the newly elected President of Zimbabwe is, we find ourselves stuck in a frightening and barbaric No Man's Land.

Every day the reports of horror continue to emerge. Youngsters in uniform going door to door in villages at night; men with guns; beatings, house burnings and torture. People having burning, molten plastic dripped onto their backs and doctors treating patients who have been whipped with bicycle chains. The MDC reports that 10 of their supporters have been murdered, 3000 displaced from their homes and 500 hospitalized since the elections. Listed amongst the people murdered is a five year old boy, Brighton Mbwera from Manyika Village. This little boy, too young to read or write and a complete innocent in this month of hell, burnt to death in a house set on fire during the rampage of political vengeance that is tearing our country apart.

As each day has passed since the elections, Zimbabwe has drawn quieter and quieter - silenced by fear. No one knows who to trust, who they can talk to or who might be listening. One man described how he and his family eat a small plate of sadza at dusk and then go indoors and sit in silence in the dark just listening to the noises in the village. The slightest change, an unfamiliar sound, the alarming of a night bird, an unknown voice and the family immediately get outside and hide in the bush. People are living in constant fear of burnings and beatings and are ready, always, to take flight at a moments notice. This week even our own church leaders warned of genocide being a real possibility if these events are not stopped immediately.

While the voices of Zimbabweans have been silenced, the calls from outside continue to rise and for this we are deeply grateful. Ordinary men and women in South Africa, civic society leaders, churches, political leaders - a great roar of disapproval over events in Zimbabwe is reaching a crescendo. Most touching in the last few days was the voice of the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, speaking on BBC radio. Asked if he had a message for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Sentamu said: "Hold on. Do Not be afraid. Change is coming."

Until next week, thanks for reading,

love cathy.

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