Zimbabwe’s Muppet Show
Dear Family and Friends,
The first rain in seven months came from a dark black sky with strong wind and hail pinging off the windows, rattling on the roof and bouncing on the dusty ground. In twenty minutes it had come and gone leaving a carpet of white hail stones, tree branches strewn on the ground and the promise of hope and renewal in the air.
A couple of days after the first storm I headed out just before sunrise when it was cool and overcast. The dust had gone, the ground was soft underfoot and everything looked fresh, clean and green. It was quiet as I walked and I carried only a bottle of water and my pockets were empty, ready to hold a few fruits that I knew I would be picking up along the way.
The Mahobohobo trees are groaning with fruit this year and everyone’s feasting. People call this tree by all sorts of names: the wild loquat, sugar plum, muzhanje and mushuku but mine is easy it’s just: YUM! As I write, girls are selling the fruit in bowls on the roadsides, pavements and along the highways and in the bush the animals are easy to find, just look for the Mahobohobo trees and you’ll find them.
Squeezing the first soft orange fruit I found out of its hard shell, I popped it into my mouth, pips and all, and carried on walking. I tried hard not to think about the ridiculousness that our lives have gone back to in Zimbabwe but it’s not possible, not for long.
Two months and two days after disputed election results which the opposition CCC said they did not accept, nothing happened. Like hot air in a balloon their words just drifted off into the blue October sky. The criticisms and reports from regional and international Election Observer Missions were pointless, made no difference whatsoever.
The ridiculous ‘fake’ letter presented to the Speaker of the House by a man falsely claiming to be the Secretary General of the Opposition CCC was upheld and resulted in 15 elected CCC MPs being expelled from Parliament. The CCC’s response of ‘disengaging’ from Parliament and Local Authorities was pointless. That too became hot air, their words made absolutely no difference and then the absurdity got even worse.
The same ‘fake’ man who had succeeded in getting 15 elected CCC MPs expelled from Parliament has now claimed in writing that he will be in charge of screening and endorsing candidates for the by-elections to be held for the vacancies left by the expelled legislators. The CCC say they ‘wont accept’ this ‘embarrassing tomfoolery’ and announced that they will boycott the elections calling them a ‘Muppet Show.’
I took a break from thinking about the mess we’re in and sat on a rock eating Mahobohobos with a troop of baboons that were rummaging around in the deep leaf litter in front of me and thought about some of the things I’d seen in Zimbabwe this week. The one abiding image that has lingered in my mind says it all for our lives in Zimbabwe two months and two days after the elections.
On a trip to the capital city the morning after the first rain, there had been a big storm overnight and the storm drain down the centre of the dual carriageway approaching Harare had overflowed and flooded the road. It’s a shocking section of highway at the best of times where you can expect to take twenty minutes to crawl the last two kilometers down a hill and into a roundabout that feeds into Harare.
The traffic was very slow, there was some obstacle ahead and then I saw it. There, sitting in the middle of the highway was a man who was literally on his hands and knees trying to trying to rescue his life. A fruit and vegetable vendor, he leaves his red plastic crates of tomatoes and cabbages in the storm drain at night and when the rain came down, all his precious goods rose up and were washed away, the remnants squashed and strewn all over the highway. Very little looked salvageable and I could only imagine his anguish.
That was probably a days’ worth of sales gone, a meal that he wouldn’t be able to give his family. Hand to mouth, that’s what people’s lives have become and there is no comfort at all in words like ‘disengage,’ ‘tomfoolery,’ ‘fake imposters’ and ‘Muppet Shows.’
Every day we look for hope. I found mine in a little baboon sitting high up in a Mahobohobo tree. He ducked and weaved as he watched me watching him, eyebrows raised, standing on tip toes, threatening me. Every now and again he uttered a little selection of angry chitter-chatter at me, choice swear words no doubt.
Making himself look bigger and fiercer the little primate did a couple of arm presses on the branch dislodging a handful of golden fruit in the process which rained like manna from heaven onto the troop below. Oh Zimbabwe, when it comes to the wild side, you’ve just gotta love it and there is hope, there is always hope but sometimes it needs a big hand to help sustain it.
There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, thanks for reading this Letter From Zimbabwe now in its 23rd year, and my books about life in Zimbabwe, a country in waiting.
Ndini shamwari yenyu (I am your friend)
26th October 2023.
Copyright © Cathy Buckle https://cathybuckle.co.zw/
All my books are now available on Amazon and Kindle www.amazon.com/author/catherinebuckle The hardback edition of my evocative Photo-books: “Zimbabwe’s Timeless Beauty” (the 2021, 2022 and 2023 collections) and my Beautiful Zimbabwe Calendar for 2024 are available exclusively on LULU www.lulu.com/spotlight/cathybuckle2018. Please visit my website for further details, to contact me or to see pictures that accompany these letters https://cathybuckle.co.zw/