Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cry My Beloved Country!

Being Zimbabwean is a privilege.

And I'm not sure that I fully appreciated that when I lived in that beautiful land up North.

I'm reading "When the Crocodile eats the Sun", by Peter Goodwin, and so enjoying it, although it haunts me when I fall asleep.

I'm still raw about Zimbabwe...and I hadn't realized that until this book opened old wounds.

It is written about the early period of Zimbabwe's demise, around the year 2000, the year Braveheart and I married, the years land invasions started, the years the first white farmers were murdered ... the years we were convinced Change would come. But that change was challenged by a dictator drunk on the taste of power and greed, and to this day, Mugabe has managed to snuff out all sparks of freedom.

What has been lost by the people of Zimbabwe is incomprehensible.

It seemed to me growing up, and even now when I look back at who I knew, that everyone in Zimbabwe used to farm, have a farm in their family, or be surrounded by people who farmed. The farming community was extensive. And by default, so was the community of farm laborers.

All has been lost.

Reading this book has made me remember with great pain, the loss of homes, the loss of lives, the loss of sanity in Zimbabwe. My life has moved on - the lives of the wives of farmers have been irrevocably altered, and they live with that searing loss daily. I had forgotten. They never will.
Martin Olds body riddled with bullets.
He fought bravely till his death

My aunt no longer has a home - the homestead in Norton is occupied. Her husband's father is buried on that land, and the farm I spent most of my childhood on can no longer be visited. Sure, she has the title deeds and now lives in England trying to make a living by caring...but can you fathom that? She is over 60, and has no where to really call home.

Other life long family friends lost their farm in Centenary - a farm carved out of virgin land a generation ago. There was nothing there - just natural vlei with huge towering masasa and mopane trees. This particular homestead was built by the farmer's own hands...and now? Occupied. Destroyed. Burnt. A highly functioning farm gone fallow. And on both these farms,these women ran clinics, gave medicine out, and on the Centenary farm, provided a school for the laborers children.

All lost.

It's not only my family (including my extended family) and close family friends who have lost out, but it's my children - the next generation. They are South African. They have no idea what it's like to love the rolling hills in Centenary, or enjoy the drive out to the farm in Norton. They won't ever know what it is to swim in the reservoir near the cows, or stay on a friend's horse farm. They won't grow up going to Nyanga and feeling the cold bite in the mountain air, or swimming in the crisp clear water; nor Kariba where I spent every holidays, watching elephants wander through the campsite.

enjoying a maize harvest

I recognize now, looking back, that my parents ensured I had a golden childhood when it came to holidays away and experiencing Zimbabwe. I remember with great clarity mny parents saving for years so that in 1985 we could go right around Zimbabwe on a family holiday.

Yes, my children will have different experiences here. Yes, they'll have different opportunities here. But somehow, it's just not the same. Imagine for one moment being forced to leave your home, your country, your livelihood - all that you have known.

My heart aches for the people who have fled this land, the Zimbabwe diaspora. It aches for the people who still live in the land, and their resilience and hope in the face of insurmountable odds. I ache because for many, returning to Zimbabwe is not an option.

I remember being amused moving to South Africa: I would meet people who on learning we were Zimbabwean would cry - "Me too!" and on further discussion I would learn that they had actually left Zimbabwe at independence some (32 years ago) or in the early 80's - and inside I would look at them quizzically and think, "Well you're not a Zimbabwean then! You've been in South Africa for years!" But now, now, I get it.

Zimbabweans are ALWAYS Zimabweans.

Zimbabwe is in my blood. I will always be a Zimbabwean no matter what passport I hold, or where I live.

And one day, just may be, we will go back.

1 comment:

  1. What an incredibly moving post - my eyes pricking with tears at the emotion behind your words. I cannot even begin to imagine....even though I have dabbled in my mind about leaving SA. I never had the opportunity to travel to Zim and I truly hope that one day I will get to meander the paths and visit the places of which you speak.