Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter from Zimbabwe !

Caramel sunsets

Saturday 1st August 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

There are stirrings of spring in Zimbabwe which lift our spirits and tease us with promises of better times to come. Seasonal changes are evident everywhere: hard green wild oranges weighing down leafless branches; pink and white Bauhinias flowering along roadsides; rolled, hooting calls of the as yet unseen Coucals; the veld grass bleached and brittle. And every evening caramel sunsets smudged with smoke blanket the horizon before the vista of African stars cover the sky. The smallest things which a decade ago we took for granted are now so rare because of unchecked environmental destruction. But there are still glimpses of life and therefore hope: a slender mongoose darting across the road; the slow heavy flight of a heron overhead, the nagging chattering of a hammerkop as it patrols what’s left of the wetlands, searching for frogs amongst the streambed cultivation which is destroying our vleis.

This spring and summer we look to our unity government to give some long overdue attention to the environment – not just on the farms but in and around our cities and towns, in and around our streams and rivers, forests and bush. Even the rocks have not been spared: beautiful balanced granite boulders, the edges of kopjes and even roadside rocks are being chipped away into building stones by men, women and children desperate to make a few dollars.

Already the uncontrolled fires are everywhere, smoke rising and staining the horizon in all directions. Six months into their terms of office municipalities continue to argue about assets and sit on their hands while garbage piles up on roadsides, under trees and in stinking piles outside flats and shopping centres. Residential areas in my home town, and many other areas, have not had dustbins collected for nearly two years, street lights have been off for four years and yet still every month the councils bill us for services they don’t provide. Someone in Harare wrote saying they’ve not had a drop of water in their suburb since the 27th of June 2008. In other parts of the capital city it has been even longer and yet they too receive accounts every month for water they do not receive.

The ugly scars of Zimbabwe’s dark decade are everywhere but the best news came this week when the BBC were allowed back into the country. Excellent news too came of the un-banning of the Daily News newspaper – hopefully they can be re-capitalized and start again. At last the real truths can be exposed for all to see and the puerile propaganda of ZBC TV and Radio will be counterbalanced.

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy

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