After my most epic online absence ever, all I can say really is, Eish! It’s been a little nuts. I live on a game farm now, way out in the bush, and the start of the rainy season brought a few not so pleasant surprises internet-wise. This is a beautiful, huge and rambling place, accessed via quite a long stretch of really bad sand road, which becomes pretty much impossible to drive on when wet, even with an SUV such as I have. The internet hub is situated in the main office, which isn’t a problem at all for me, except that in the past few weeks we’ve had power outages, the most horrendous computer malware attack, and an electrical short which knobbled us all until the electrician could wend his way here. The cherry on the top was that I got a little slack and stopped neurotically inspecting everything I eat and got royally glutened. Very sick puppy I was. Still far from a hundred percent as far as the poor old innards are concerned.
Happily though, I’m still kicking, and the power short/malware/internet/soggy road have all been overcome now. Before all of this rotten divil nonsense struck we had a rhino capture here, which was absolutely amazing (will share pics and proper story about that later), however, there was a documentary filmmaker along with the road crew who (I kid you not) made off with my laptop charger, and it took weeks before I could lay my hands on a new one. In the meantime I wasn’t too perturbed because my friend and owner of this paradise said that I could use her computer in the office. Not a problem then. All I had to do was transfer anything I needed to email by memory stick from my desktop in my chalet to that and tra-la-la. However, and without any delay at all— Enter malware attack and— Celiac attack— Well. You get the picture.
Lately the rain has meant that the cellphone signal has been zero, so VERY few emails have been got to. It’s clearing now and all is fabulous again. I’ll get to all your emails but will take a while, so if there’s anything I need to see now please zoom over a fresh email and I’ll get right on it. So, with all the devilish attempts to foil my scribbling career now properly squished, I shall attempt to move on with some small degree of decorum.
I’m incredibly grateful though. It’s been a pretty rough year—the roughest in my life so far. Terrifying and challenging, and a good couple of times it was very tempting to run and hide, and give up trying in general. I’ve had the most amazing love and support from my friends, who are all angels straight from Heaven in my book, and I reckon that now the worst is over. I could NEVER have done it without you guys. I’m also so grateful for the support of “my” authors who have given me the privilege of working on their books, thereby showing me the way forward, work-wise. Thanks for your support and patience during the growing pains.
I’m hoping to stay right here right through Christmas and in to next year, which I’m hoping will be epic for all of us, only in really good ways. Once I’ve made head or tail of my turgid inbox and appeased anyone who wants me drawn and quartered for my super long absence, I’m planning on getting a little festive in general. Festive and bookish again, with a bit of luck. Please give me reminders of anything I’ve missed of yours for sharing or generally catching up.
The Best Medicine
The loadshedding wasn’t as bad around here as it was in other places in South Africa this festive season. In Zimbabwe they switch you off every day for the whole day or the whole night without fail.
At least here they let you know when so you can get backup lights ready. I walked into many a wall strolling around at night in Zimbabwe.
Festive South African Light Bulb
I’m already so used to the comfort here I don’t often think of the discomfort up there much more. I still remember it though, and nothing will change my disgust at the suffering pure greed and the abuse of power is still causing.
That’s not my point though. I was thinking about the ability of both of these nations to always find something to laugh at no matter how bad things get, and especially the ability to laugh at themselves.
Monkey See, Monkey Run Like Hell
I can’t be messing around much if I’m going to get anything published at all this year. With things still being CRAZY hectic around here, and me not having much time to write, distracting me from my work is not a good idea when I’m hard at it in the little time I do have. Especially when I’m really getting a lot done quickly. These epic word rolls don’t happen often, and it’s particularly difficult to get my attention when I’m on one. Success at finally getting my attention at such a time is never going to be a good thing – for man or beast. Birds don’t count, because they’re generally attached to me, so part of the process. While I would be the last person to want to hurt any sort of creature on the planet, that doesn’t mean that every single one of them makes me come over all warm and fuzzy. Worms creep me out to the point of screaming and belting around the house with hair on end a couple of times if I accidentally grab one while whiffling through a bit of damp soil – as you do. Mortally venomous snakes in my house are not going to make me put anyone in it at risk by talking to it in a friendly fashion while attempting to pop it into a bag to transport to pastures new. No. It will unfortunately get to meet its maker early if it doesn’t get me first. And I absolutely loathe African bees after helplessly watching a swarm of them kill my animals in the most agonising and long drawn out way. No bees allowed around me. Yes I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t think they’re lovely little things that should be decorating cakes. No child around here should think of bees as cute in any way as far as I’m concerned. Four year old twins were killed by them at a dam down the road from us in Zimbabwe. Now this brings me to monkeys.
I’d love to see the people who abuse them in labs have their kneecaps shot to shreds and then have them dumped in the middle of millions of fire ants. I think monkeys should be left alone to get on with things in whatever wild parts remain to them. But I’m not particularly fond of them, and they’re most certainly not welcome to pop around to my house for any sort of snack. (NOT APES!!! WE LOVE STORY READING APES, WHO ARE ALLOWED ALL THE SNACKS THEY WANT!) Monkeys. I’ve had a running battle with the little sods for years now. Up in Zimbabwe, among other terrible acts of theft and destruction, they used to eat the baby weaver birds out of their nests. Not on my watch Dagwood! I never ever harmed a hair on one of their smelly little persons, but chase them away I did. Monkeys know what guns are, so all you have to do is point one at them or let off a shot in the direction of nothing at all, and they’ll hightail it out of there. They’re clever buggers though, so I got a lot of exercise warding off their various military style tactics to gain entry from different points.
Monkeys in suburbia are another kind of pain in the bum altogether. They know which day the rubbish is collected, and driving down the road on Tuesdays looks like a warzone after they’ve ripped and tossed everybody’s trash all over the place. Now I know a lot more about my neighbours than I cared to thanks to them. If you don’t have screens on your windows and doors they’ll pop in and destroy your house for you in their quest for snacks, while you cower in the toilet waiting for them to leave, and any yards with fruit trees are open season. They don’t delicately pick a fruit or two and munch on it either. They hoik off everything whether its ripe or not. Around here, they’re very interested in what my feathered horde have lurking around – and the horde have food of some sort all over the house. Every time you hear those demolishing beasties thundering over the roof, or one of their faces pops up at a window, my birds freak right out, and Button has flown into things a couple of times now, hurting his tiny little body, and almost knocking himself out. Apart from the constant distraction from my scribbling, I’m worried that one day the poor guy will hit just a little too hard to survive. Can’t have that. So war it is!
Now – you can’t go zooming around the yard in suburbia with a real gun letting off shots willy nilly. And you aren’t going to get very far with a broom either. Monkeys know what brooms are, they’re not scared of you, and if you try and interfere with them unarmed they’ll bite your face off. They really will – not fluffy cuties, monkeys. So – not a scribbler for nothing. Googled and googled. And now I’ve got me a nice little replica rifle that shoots plastic pellets. The lovely man at the shop is very clued up monkey-wise – they’re the terror of the area – and supplied me with some “special” little pellets that would most certainly sting without causing actual injury – just in case. I’ve been having a ball zooming after them now, after having them show me the finger all the time – not to mention some pretty serious looking dental equipment – buggers. They’re avoiding any sign of me now. *Grins* *Shows monkeys the finger* Jo 100 – Monkeys 0 – HAH! Anyway. Back to work.
Next month it will be a year since we left Zimbabwe to come back home to South Africa. Although living up there for almost two decades it was also home to me, and I wouldn’t exchange the memories of it, both good and bad, for anything in the world. Apart from the fires – those were terrible, and were mostly started on purpose.
For all of those years we lived in rural areas far away from any sort of town, which is why I used to go on my epic once a month shopping trips and stock up on everything needed till the next month. A couple of hours drive each way to Harare, being stopped by endless roadblocks along the way, being fined US$20 for having dirty tyres (truth).
And being nearly squished several times by ancient, overloaded, but still very zoomy buses and taxis. It was all a massive adventure though, and I remember all these things now with a smile.
After the farm invasions started and the economy collapsed there were several really lean years – years of fear too, because there was no rule of law. Large groups of youths went around beating people both black and white, and very often killing them. The currency was worth nothing, not that you could buy anything with it if it wasn’t though. Shops closed. The end. People in rural areas died of starvation and disease – hospitals had nothing. Power went off for days, sometimes weeks. No more water on tap in the capital, and sewage pipes left broken with effluent in the streets causing cholera, and more death.
I’ve never seen a people with more heart than the people of Zimbabwe though. Apart from those who had the power to harm whoever they felt like harming and did, the vast majority of Zimbabweans are a wonderful and very canny lot. Plans were made. There was a mass exodus of white people at that time, and not only farmers. Some got out in time to hang on to any cash they had, but when the economy collapsed those left behind lost everything including pensions, and any investments people had been building for their entire lives crumbled to dust before their eyes. So many were fearfully stuck there with no money to get out, but there were also quite a few of us who stayed because that’s what we decided to do. We knew that it was dangerous, especially out in the rural areas on farms, but I guess guardian angels were working overtime those days, so even though I had the daylights scared out of me quite a few times, nobody ever managed to physically harm me. Apart from all the hurting though, Zimbabwe is a beautiful country, and there was also lots of laughter and joy, even from those hurting. Regardless of whether or not you’d be munching on an old potato for lunch, or if you had “made a plan” and would be having something a bit more filling, the houses up there were always gorgeous. I do miss a couple of things. I miss my freshly picked veggies, and also seeing all the wildlife and birds that crept around the garden – although not so much the black mambas and the baboons lurking behind bushes waiting to scare the pants off innocent me. And I really miss looking out of my window and seeing shining tranquil water. Our front lawn meandered down a couple of terraces to a gorgeous dam.
If you fancied a swim, in you popped. Not that I ever ventured out too far because there was the meanest monitor lizard in the world who used to hang around on the wobbly old jetty that would hiss and leap at you without any provocation at all.
Still, it was a lovely place to watch the sun go down behind the fields of tea on the other side of the water.
I miss the palm trees loaded down with nesting weaver birds every year – especially the one right outside my office window.
Would I ever go back to live there? No – I don’t think so. There was so much hope a couple of years back. After seeing the misery and the hunger on the faces of those people who I came to love and respect so much for their strength and humility in the face of appalling abuses by their own, I actually used to grin like an idiot and shed a tear or two when I saw them happy, well fed, and hopeful again. Now things are going so badly again – I couldn’t bear to see that again.
For now I’m very happy in my sleepy little rainbow nation town. I certainly don’t miss that constant small feeling of not being safe, but I’ll always treasure my years in Zimbabwe, and strangely, the fact that the very hell that everyone went through brought us all so much closer, and I got to know and love so many people of that country in ways that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere or anywhen else.
I had to drive a way down the highway yesterday in the rain. I actually enjoy driving, and I’ve always been a fan of a big growly engine and lots of horsies under the hood, because I enjoy speed and the sense of freedom that zooming down a highway with just you, some cool music, and the control of a fast car brings. But stupid I’m not – mostly. People seem to assume that no matter what the conditions, they are absolutely obliged to drive at the top speed limit – at the very least. Bloody fools.
I stuck to mainly 100 kph when the visibility was bad, and made sure that I kept well away from the crazies as best I could, but I saw three cars barely manage to control skids as they flew past a petrol tanker up a blind hill, then succeed in avoiding an oncoming bus by what had to be inches, and then spend a minute slewing all over the road in some grizzly fast car ballet. Then – coming up to the town where I live I came across the aftermath of an accident. Humungous truck all bent and twisted on one side of the road, all his cargo all over the place, and a whole lot of cars in a bunch on the other side. Police cars, fire trucks, and people trying to clear the stuff off the road.
Then this morning I heard that a truck had been encroaching on the wrong side of the road, and had a head on with a minibus full of Zimbabweans, killing ten of them, including both drivers. What a totally unnecessary waste of life. People really need to get things into perspective. The possibility of killing anyone at all through wilful negligence should never be a possibility at all. Life is precious to every single one of us, and we shouldn’t have to risk it because some tool thinks that he has to do everything quicker and louder than everyone else.
And then there’s the other thing. The fact that the people of Zimbabwe have been turned into a nation of vagrants and forced world travellers by the selfish behaviour of the greedy few in control of their lives. I meet them here every time I go to town – people who have no way of providing for their families in their own country, and they come down here to work so that they can send money home. They don’t do it because they want to swan around the continent – in fact they have a lot of difficulties here because they are seen to be stealing work from local people. They do it because they choose to try their best instead of sitting under a tree and waiting to die of starvation, while their leaders get fatter and wealthier on what should rightly be theirs.
All of my Zimbabwean friends have said that there is nothing more terrifying than travelling in minibus taxis, but they don’t have any other choice because that’s the only way they can afford to travel. Pity that those bloody thieving politians don’t get to feel the fear of knowing that the pilot of the speeding vehicle you’re in decides whether you live or die with the choices that he makes. Although, having been directly responsible for the deaths of so many of their people for so many years now, even that wouldn’t make a difference. Pardon the rant. But really. No appointment is so important, and no destination will disappear because you get there a little late.
It got me thinking at any rate. There but for the grace of God, and that sort of thing. We go through our lives always busy. Busy doing, and planning, and fretting, and doing some more. Worrying about things that maybe aren’t so important in the grand old scheme of things. We get ourselves all in knots over some silly thing that we said, and worry about what people will think about us. We care so much about doing the right things, and the impressions we are making. Whether that be being seen as a ninny for driving “too slow”, or in the scribbling and blogging world, putting something out there that nobody will like. And while we’re agonising over that one truly rotten review, or worrying that we’ll be ridiculed for some scribble lurking around somewhere, those things could literally become the last thought we ever have. Right place at the wrong time is all it takes. So. I think that I’ll just have the rest of the day off, play with Bella and the horde, watch me some B-Grade movie – maybe Sharknado again – missed the end last time, and ponder what I’m up to in this life, the universe, and everything.
Rest In Peace Zimbabwean friends. I’m truly sorry that you had to leave this way.
Just found this – and that’s why I fell in love with Zimbabwe. You guys rock!
Black Rhino Rescue Project
Why is it that people get away with being allowed to continue to believe that legally killing one animal from an endangered species is justified because it will put money towards trying to save the rest of them from poachers? Ever heard of donations not requiring a death guys? With not many more than around four thousand odd black rhino left in the wild on the planet, the Dallas Safari Club plans the auction of a permit to shoot one. They further justify this with the fact that this particular rhino is too old to breed. So what? Why can’t he just be allowed to enjoy his old age in peace?
In general terms, I personally believe that hunting for FOOD – not new boots – is a lot kinder than breeding animals for food. At least hunted animals get to live free to begin with. But there is nothing under the sun that can justify this. Why not just give some money to saving rhinos if you have so much to play around with? Why does one have to be shot?
The poaching of these creatures is heartbreaking. As a species they have to endure being slaughtered in the most barbaric ways, often having their horns hacked off while they are still alive, whether they are mothers with calves or not, all because some tool somewhere believes that a bit of it will help him get his pecker up or something. Give these poor creatures a break!
The purposeful killing of even one of these animals is a disgusting thing to even contemplate doing. There are a group of people trying to stop this from happening, and I for one hope and pray that they get it right, although that’s not a given. The group is called the Black Rhino Rescue Project, and they’re on Facebook and Twitter, just in case any of you scribblers would like to help this poor old wrinkly guy out. The power of some wonderful authors fan reaching tools is a much better way to go than trying to fight this with death threats, as some people have been doing. I don’t often ask for shares, but on this particular occasion I really would appreciate it.
Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013
Celebrate His Life
As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity. It is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.
Resentment is like drinking a poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter. I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret, that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.
As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.
I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.
Nelson Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
News and Deployments
I wrote the post below a couple of days ago while innocently expecting the internet guys to come and connect me to the internet. Well. Seems they decided to have a laugh instead. We ordered it a couple of weeks ago and waited the required seven to ten days, then Wednesday morning we got loads of sms’s from them saying that the installer guys had been deployed. Yes. Deployed. I had a good laugh picturing those techies being “deployed” in their camo outfits, ducking and diving behind bushes to avoid enemy fire. Then, after loads more deployed messages – nothing happened.
We phoned them to see what had happened, and they said that there was a technical problem in our area that had nobbled said deployment. When asked what the technical issue was they said that they weren’t at liberty to divulge such sensitive information, but that redeployment would definitely take place by Friday at the latest. Very cloak and dagger, this internet business. Our new friends have said that the posse deployed could very well have been ambushed by a cool lager or three, thereby causing the technical issue of not being able to see the street numbers. You never know. Anyway. The guy pitched up yesterday and zoomed through so fast that my hair’s still standing on end, and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on. Situation normal really. I’ve got the laptop connected, but I need to get an epic cable before I can hook up my desktop. I really don’t operate well from the laptop, so, grumpy, grumpy, grumpy… Never mind. I’ve really been missing my friends online. It’s really lonely scribbling without the whole writing world with you every day. You get so used to it, it’s a bit like losing a part of you being in the dark for so long. Now to dive in again. Most cool indeed! So, here’s my pre-internet guy deployment news…
Desktop computer finally unpacked and set up. Waiting for the internet guys to come and hook me up to the ol’ world wide web any minute now. The whole “working on the laptop” plan while briefly homeless and unemployed didn’t work out for me at all. There was no time, I couldn’t figure out the pay-as-you-go wi-fi internet thing properly, and the stress levels were just way too high. The one time I did boot it up, I only managed to delete the entire My Documents library. Then I managed to retrieve it and accidently saved it to the My Music library, and of course I couldn’t get it out again, which was worse than deleting it in the first place. Not good for my slight OCD trying to work on something that’s in the wrong spot. So I shut it down before I messed up anything else, and got on with all the other bits of life that had to be seen to.
I never thought I would be so long getting back online. The previous months have been wildly crazy. Luckily the crazy bad turned to crazy good. The last couple of weeks in Zimbabwe were appallingly crap. In retrospect, after seeing how that “election” took place, it’s obvious now that the outcome was a dead cert all along. Planned. Which is why all the threatening, violent bullying, and total disregard of any sort of law, that we and a few others were subjected to, was so easy to get away with by people aligned with those who were so sure to win. At the end of it all, we pretty much walked away from all that we’d built there over the years. By the time we started on the actual trip to South Africa, the sense of urgency to just get the hell out of there was so intense it was all we could focus on. So we left everything behind except what could be squeezed into the car, and the portion of our finances we could lay our hands on. Amazing how easy it is there for institutions to just say “No” when it comes to accessing your own lucre. Anyway. We have no regrets, and I don’t feel the loss of any of it except the animals. Sometimes what appears to be a loss is actually a gain of much more though. And I do feel that I’ve gained more than I’ve lost with this mindbogglingly (new word) speedy transition. Sanity and safety at the very least.
We found brilliant homes for Sprite and the chickens. It still hurts to have had to part with that dog, but the couple who took him over are absolutely in love with him, and the feeling was so obviously mutual that it took the edge off a little. Only a little though. The birds, of course, had to come with us. Nothing would induce me to leave my horde behind. Feathery, squawky, road trip it was. The parrots were really good, considering that it was a five day road trip, with being caged on the back seat of the car during the days, and then being squished into tiny travel lodge rooms at night. Jelly was his usual cool self, checking out the passing scenery, and munching on little hotel soaps in the evenings, but Button complained bitterly, and loudly, every inch of the way. He really hated every minute of it, and got well freaked out towards the end. Trying to catch those two slippery little yellow buggers every morning to put in the cages was like a bad Carry On movie too. They’re all fine now though. Loving zooming around their new house, and crapping on all the new stuff.
We’ve settled nicely in South Africa. Having lived in Zimbabwe for eighteen years, I’m still having it sink in that I’m back home. Safe. In my own country. And slowly realising how badly the culture of fear, that’s been firmly entrenched up there for the last years, affects the way you think and behave. Affects your whole life. Since we crossed the border, we’ve come across friendly, kind, helpful, and generally fantastic people. They probably don’t realise how cool we think they are, because they’re just being normal. Our normal has been very, very different for too long I think. Seeing a policeman here, or a member of the armed forces, instils a sense of safety and comfort. Not fear. Suddenly you feel so relaxed and happy, you’re horrified to find that there’s been a physical tension, for years, in your body and mind, that you were so used to having you didn’t really notice that it was there. You thought it was normal. But you really do notice when it leaves. It’s weird not to be wound up all the time. But… Loving my sunny South Africa! The roads are awesome. So are the shops. My lady friends will be appalled to hear that I’m so sick of shopping I have no intention of going near any sort of shop again for weeks – at least.
We had to buy everything new, from furniture to teaspoons. It started off really cool. No self-respecting shopaholic, such as myself, could not find such a thing anything but awesome. I zoomed around huge malls, with bulging eyeballs and poking out tongue, with a grumbling husband battling to keep up, trying to handle multiple trolleys, and then move furniture around back home till things were in the right spots, for more than a straight week, having a ball. Buying piles of exactly what I wanted was beyond cool. Proper colour coordination going on here, I can tell you! Then, as I limped down an aisle on Saturday, looking for a nice stainless steel colander, I realised that for the first time in my life I really was all shopped out. The colander will have to wait till I get my shopping mojo back. Now, I’ll just be back to hanging around here, over a hot keyboard, where I belong, and poor long-suffering husband can flee to the peace and quiet of his new job every day, without fear of having to move stuff about all the time.
I’ll need to sort out my Amazon and PayPal accounts before I publish African Me now. Woo Hooo – PayPal and Smashwords for me now! And it will be most cool not to have to worry about being arrested for sharing my opinions too, so publishing will happen soon. I must apologise to my friends for not publishing it before I left, as I said I would, but things were really way too scary for me to be able to think overly clearly, and it would have been a wet squib to publish and then just go dark for so many weeks. Now, publishing it will be as publishing any sort of book should be. An absolutely joyful, exciting thing, and not a furtive, frightening procedure, as it would have been if I had. Still. I’m really sorry for the disappearing. I doubt that sort of thing will happen here though. The power stays on all the time. And the internet too apparently. Amazing!
I haven’t had time to sit down till now, let alone give anything much proper thought. I’m still reeling a little too much over what happened to us personally to have figured out my own opinion on what has just happened in Zimbabwe. There’s not a lot in the news. I’m really relieved that the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have announced that they don’t see the election results of the 31st July as free and fair, or I’d be wondering if I’d totally lost the use of my faculties. I don’t understand why the rest of Africa has accepted the election results as legitimate though. I can only assume that the powers that be around the continent have good reasons for accepting the results. Maybe the rumours that he has terminal cancer are true, and he’s being allowed to go out on a high on the merit of his early days as a fighter for the freedom of colonial oppression. Even I thought of him as a hero back then, although in the light of all he’s been up to since coming to power, I really don’t any more at all. Maybe it’s some sort of experiment. A new way to reclaim Africa without having to compensate anyone for anything. Who knows? Something’s definitely dodgy though. My opinion is that this ambush has been planned all along. Without Morgan Tsvangerai, Zimbabwe was finished. He was used to pick it up, and then tossed aside.
I was still there at the time, and if those elections were free and fair, then I’m a monkey’s bum. The weeks leading up to it were unnaturally quiet, true enough. I emphasise unnatural though. I’m guessing now, that there must have been some very busy bees behind closed doors during those weeks. We all stupidly dared to imagine that a “real” honest election would actually be allowed to happen. More fools us. Among other things, over a million voters were turned away on the day for the most ridiculous reasons. Dead people voted. Miracles all around! A pile of marked – marked for the opposition that is – ballot papers were fished out of a bin in a street. Not sure what happened to them at the end of it all. The campaign photos of the president seemed to be around thirty years out of date. The opposition was not allowed an electronic copy of the voters roll. And… And… And… It may have appeared to be outwardly peaceful. But it was NOT fair by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m not a political animal, and talking politics bores me to tears, so I can’t do too much of that. I will say though, that my heart bleeds for Zimbabwe now. A few will be genuinely happy with their ill-gotten gains. But not the majority of people, I don’t think. As we drove down the length of the country when we finally left, I saw no joy at all. Only sadness. The restrained fear of a people resigned to their fate. How can they fight a leader who uses the armed forces and paid thugs against them to get what he wants? Why should they have to anyway? No citizen of any country should have to lay down their life for the right to peace, food, health and democracy. There’s no help for them now though, and nothing for them to do except go with the flow. With the support of the rest of Africa, things might turn out not too terrible now that the economy is out of the toilet. But I personally doubt it. Either way, most Zimbabweans are gentle, friendly people. They’ve had more than their fair share of bloodshed, poverty and death just lately, so they won’t fight. I wouldn’t either.
I’ve been really surprised watching the news lately. Robert Mugabe was inaugurated on Thursday last week. He’s also been elected Deputy Chairperson of SADC at the regional bloc’s summit in Malawi. The United Nations world tourism body has chosen Zimbabwe to lead its Commission for Africa. Tourism? Zimbabwe? Really? They’re planning on building a Disneyworld at Victoria Falls too. The mind just boggles. Bit by bit that election is being legitimised. Kudos! Accolades are flowing in. Congratulations. I just don’t get it. What a farce.
And another bit of news that made me queasy. So far all the news on Zim that I’ve seen lately has made me queasy. In his first public speech after his inauguration, Robert Mugabe showed how not to be a gracious “winner”. If winner he truly was. Here are a few excerpts of this speech, given at a funeral ceremony at the country’s National Heroes Acre, him speaking about his opponent, Morgan Tsvangerai.
“… Working with him required real patience and endurance, because he was an ignoramus who was woefully unaware of his ignorance…”
“… You see. An illiterate person, who is aware that they are ignorant, you can deal with better. You are better off with an ignorant person who is aware. Conscious of his ignorance. Who accepts that he is ignorant. But if you are ignorant of your own ignorance, then it’s a big problem…”
And then, reacting to Morgan Tsvangerai’s (withdrawn) attempt to challenge the results:-
“… I hope our people will never repeat the same mistake, and choose an ignoramus, when you have bright children who went to university. I wonder what you admire in him…”
“…What section reform can you, a lone stray locust, implement? When has the frog aspired to be the crocodile?…”
In a country that HIS actions brought to its knees, to the point where most of HIS people didn’t have the option of an education for a very long while, let alone access to food or medication. How horribly condescending. How incredibly petty and unfair. Gloating. And calling a man a locust brings back memories of people being called cockroaches in Rwanda for me. There’s just no dignity in these words, and no reason to respect the person who utters them. The saddest thing is that it was Morgan Tsvangerai, varsity education notwithstanding, and his MDC party, who picked Zimbabwe up from the pit that it ended up in after the farm invasions, the violence, the killings, the corruption, and the scrabble for personal enrichment by a few. Not to mention the huge amounts of money spent on bribery. “War Veterans”, who must have fought as really strong sperm back in the day, were given land, pensions, tractors, food, and allsorts, to repay their equally brave actions in viciously evicting farmers, and beating the crap out of the opposition. There was a “camp” down the road from where we lived just before the last elections. People were taken in. People came out battered. Broken. Some people didn’t come out at all. And still they lost that election. They clung on though. It should never have been allowed. The only ignorance that anyone displayed has been in trusting those who lost it that time. Morgan Tsvangerai saved thousands from starvation, picked up a broken economy, a broken country, and now the man who broke it in the first place has taken it back, by fair means or foul – foul, to be sure – purely for the further enrichment of himself and his inner circle, and possibly because he believes that this last term in office, and the baffling support of most of Africa, will consolidate his “legacy”, as a respected statesman. Well…
Let’s totally forget Gukurahundi, shall we? His Fifth Brigade’s attempted genocide of the Matabele people. Twenty thousand were killed then on his instruction. Farmers were killed during the farm takeovers. People were killed for belonging to the opposition party. There’s no reason to think that anything’s not possible there now. He does what he wants and God help any who gainsays him. Life seems to have become a cheap thing in Zimbabwe. If a man’s been prepared for such a long time, for so many to be killed, starve to death, or die for lack of medicine, just so he can remain in power, he isn’t going to stop now. And to mock the uneducated seems to me to me the final insult. Break a country to the point where every government school has to close its doors, and education becomes not even an option. Turn a nation into acquiescent, unquestioning, poor peasants, then who will there be to fight you? You can call them all stupid as much as you like too, and all they can do is take it. What a shame that it means nothing that they take it because they fear you, not that they respect you. What a terrible shame.
Anyway. That’s enough of that now. I want to be “normal” for a bit, and reacquaint myself with my forgotten South African culture, live my life in this mellow, peaceful suburb for a while, get used to people who aren’t frightened or frightening. And have a little fun even. After African Me, I’ll be back off to Lapillus, where the scariest things are eight foot tall demons who want to torture you for eternity. A lot less scary place to be than my poor Zimbabwe right now or the people who have control of it. So. I’d better get to work. I’m champing at the bit to get writing again. Books. Books. More books. That’s all I’ll be jabbering on about from now. Well… Probably not, but mostly. It’s fantastic to be back! HI GUYS! I missed you all. Should I try and catch up on the thousands of emails, do you think? I’ll have a go, and spend days getting a proper Twitter fix too. If there’s anything I might miss on my catch up that I shouldn’t, please yell. Back to zooming….
Yep – been MIA again. I’ve seriously considered giving up on the whole idea of writing books, or anything at all this week. My “always look on the bright side” attitude has taken a tumble lately. We moved here a year ago, and from day one we have had rotten things happening. Killer bees, diseases, weird, sponge like people, more horribleness than a really cool life view could make up for a lot of times. But – not being keen on being overly ranty, I’ve tried really hard to justify it all, and just shut up – blog wise. Life. Lessons. Normal.
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all – my dear old mother used to say. Theoretically a really cool idea, but life being what it is, you’re going to have to be a saint if you claim to have never said anything not so nice. But – good for me! Not said a word so far. This week has been “interesting” in all the wrong kind of ways, and I actually do have quite a lot that I’d really like to say right now. But so far I’ve managed to hold my tongue and not utter not a word. Sorry though – limit reached. I’m pissed off. And as soon as I’ve gathered my thoughts, I will be saying something. A lot. Indeed I will. Not cool letting rotten people get away with attempting rotten deeds, so – you nasty guy who thinks you are above all the laws of this land because of your greatness and awesomeness, oh yes, I will be discussing you, and people like you, so drunk with their own power that they think they can do just what they like. You really suck. Soonish too. Note to you. You picked on the wrong “victim”. Guessing I’m going to out you for being a tool? Oh yes I am.
It’s never been my plan to involve myself in any sort of politics here. Still isn’t. My target has always been racism and the results today of the abuse of the African continent. That abuse is far from over. But I honestly think that all politicians everywhere are the biggest tools on the planet. Can’t stand the posturing buggers. Not a one. Really not partial to politicians. Not many of them set out on their careers with human rights on their agenda, I don’t think. I’ve always got the impression that they’re a bit like wannabe film stars, and that they all think they look really cool in suits and are really keen on the lifestyle – and the sound of their own voices. They earn big money, and live in mansions, and that’s what it seems to be all about. Power and money. Considering the state of the planet, they really haven’t much clue about running things anyway, so their aim really can’t be trying to fix things. This world is well buggered. People are dying of hunger right now. As you read this, some poor, uneducated woman is watching her baby die from lack of food or medicine – right there in her arms. Not cool at all. I don’t think that there has been one tiny part of recorded history where there wasn’t a war going on somewhere or other. Bring on the powerful guys. Yeh. There are arbs all over the place who have shot to fame, done something really cool, garnered the adulation of grateful peoples, and then forgotten all about what they started out to do in the first place, and proceeded to crap right on the heads of those that they set out to help in the first place. Lost your way a bit guys?
Sorry about that. I’ve not lost my motive. To highlight the abuse still going on – and all those crappy people who are doing it – nor have I lost my love for Africa and its unheard voices. I never will. But just lately, finding myself and my family in the way of a “powerful” black man, I’ve personally felt what it’s like to be targeted by someone only concerned with personal gain – squishing all in his path regardless. Yes dude, I have heard that you strongly believe that women should hang around really, really, quietly in the background, looking after your children, in the kitchen preferably, and well out of earshot, but I really don’t give a damn what you think fella. Or what you do. I’m not one of those women. I have every intention of speaking out as loudly as I can – see how weak us wimmen are then – oh not so clever one. At this point it’s not about race or colour – but about the blackness of your heart and spirit – and I really mean black – as in demon black.
I’m not a Zimbabwean, so I haven’t felt it was my place to comment on what’s been going on here – still don’t – apart from using it as a locale for my book. But really guys – you are not gods. Trampling over people for the sake of your bank account sucks. And this hasn’t really got anything to do with politics – just the most outrageous kind of bullying.
We have lately been subjected to all sorts of outrageous treatment. Being a South African citizen, even though I’m rooting for Zimbabweans to have a cool election on the 31st and move on forward to the happy nation you deserve to be, I really never for one second expected to be exposed to any form of threat of actual violence or harm. But in these last few weeks I have been, and I don’t like it at all.
So – pardon for my absence and lack of upbeat blog posts just recently guys. I’ve been trying really hard to maintain my online presence. And failed dismally. Trying to pretend that all is rosy and most cool. But it hasn’t been. Apart from Pestilence having taken up residence here from the day we moved in, I’ve come face to face with the first African person I’ve met in my entire life that I really don’t like at all. No saving graces at all. A really horrible kind of guy. And yes – I really, really, do plan to name you dude – just not today. I’m going to research you first – that’s what we scribblers do – even the female variety who shouldn’t be able to read. And I’m going to lay your soul bare, and all the rotten things that you’ve done out there, for all the world to see.
Normal fluffy birdy blogs will resume shortly.