By hook or by crook – Cathy Buckle

via Cathy Buckle News from Zimbabwe September 21, 2013 by Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,

Arriving at Harare Airport after a time away, you can’t help but wonder what country you’ve landed in. Confusion starts some kilometres before you descend into Harare: the horizon becomes indistinct while buildings and familiar landmarks disappear into the choking smoke of a thousand fires.  It’s the time of year when everyone gets into a frenzy about planting a few maize seeds and every spare centimetre of land is set alight. Rural, farming or urban areas are all treated the same: every bush, shrub and blade of grass is incinerated; roadsides and railway sidings aren’t spared, nor are delicate wetlands or even the edges of cemeteries: everything is reduced to ash.

Coughing and with watering eyes you step into Harare International Airport where the sense of disorientation deepens. There are separate queues for returning residents, visitors, people with SADC passports or diplomatic passports. And then you notice that the signs are written in two languages: English and Chinese. Unbelievably the first thing visitors to Zimbabwe now see are signs that aren’t written in the two main local languages of Shona or Ndebele but in Chinese. How can this be? Since when has Zimbabwe’s second language become Chinese you wonder; have we been re-colonized?

Within a few days the culture shock of going from a first world to a third world country wears off. It’s not long before you know you’re home and it’s not long before you are forced to remember what happened. To remember the results of the election that sent the country into shock and mourning. To remember that after a thirteen year struggle for new governance in which thousands died of disease, poverty and violence and four million fled the country, Zanu PF have got back into power, by hook or by crook.

You know you’re home because the day before Parliament’s inaugurated there’s a sixteen hour electricity cut. The next day live TV coverage shows President Mugabe, now in power for 33 years, arriving at Parliament in a Rolls Royce under purple Jacaranda trees. The day after Parliament opens the electricity’s gone again, this time for ten hours. To really make you feel at home this is followed by two days without water and then comes the shocking news from  WOZA. Their press release reads that peaceful demonstrations on International Peace Day ‘left thirty women nursing wounds inflicted by police baton sticks.’ You can almost hear Zimbabwe groaning:  oh no, here we go again.

So many people who sacrificed  so much of the last thirteen years of their lives to bring change to Zimbabwe are left wondering: what now. They had thought, hoped and prayed that 2013 would see a complete transformation for Zimbabwe and that they might get their lives back.  As hoopoes and starlings run on my lawn and a red sun disappears into a smoke filled horizon every evening, I too wonder what’s next for our beloved country. Until the next time, thanks for reading this letter, and for supporting my books, love cathy.



  • comment-avatar
    ZimJim 11 years ago

    Sad, but beautifully written, as always.

    Thank you.

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    Sekuru Tiva 11 years ago

    Cry for my ruined and re-ruined country.Its now like a beautiful car that had an accident that’s been written off and the owner removed the tyres,and some doors and left the shell of the body to all and sundry.Pitful.

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    ZANU PF will continue to batter their own people. Why not? The AU and Sadc have ignored a stolen election and given them a License to do what they wish. Pity that most people that were adults before, so called liberation are dead, because they knew how much better life in that country was then. Freedom in Zimbabwe is only for the thieving ZANU PF hierarchy. Sorry I almost forgot Mugabe’s other cronies, the Chinese, who have been given the country to keep that old monster in power.

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    Cathy Buckle, you are one of those writers who sold the country to the dogs by writing sickening exaggerated stories and with MDC’s open invitation, the sanctions came. Now you shed crocodile tears about the state of the country which is only the outcomes of your hard work of you and other like minded people.

    While you are such a famous writer, could you not find something positive to write about and perhaps sweeten the outlook of the country so that perhaps some tourist or investors may come. Here you go selling a country that you call a home for 3 pieces of silver and sustain the fight against your ‘Home’.
    People like do not deserve a Zimbabwean passport.

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    guy Gusu 11 years ago

    Cde please tell us the positives yourself, for example, about education, health in the country and employment.

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    Matumba 11 years ago

    Mrs Buckle, just keep telling the truth. Millions love it!!! You are a brave, adored and patriotic Zimbabwean.

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    Chiza 11 years ago

    CDE:Write something positive ,you need to direct that comment to ZANU PF,they are the reason that everthing that comes out of zim is negative, To Cathy i say keep writing the truth ,and long may you do.

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    michael 11 years ago


    My first reaction to your comments is laughter, where it should be pity. I pity stupid people like you. Tell what investor would want to come to Zimbabwe, invest their money only to have 51% of their company (investment)stolen from them to line the ZANU fat cat’s pocket. Your are indeed stupid beyond belief.

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    Changamire Leo 11 years ago

    Good article indeed.