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….