Sausages and handkerchiefs – Cathy Buckle

via Cathy Buckle News from Zimbabwe  October 26, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Being interviewed by a magazine recently I was asked what the main challenges were that I faced as a writer about Zimbabwean life and how I deal with those challenges. I replied that racism and intolerance were the two biggest issues I had to cope with. I explained that my birth certificate says I was born in Southern Rhodesia. My school and university certificates are from Rhodesia. My first ID was issued in Zimbabwe Rhodesia and my current ID and utility bills are from Zimbabwe. And it’s all the same place! I can’t change what happened in the past, nor can I personally be blamed for it or deny it. BUT I can help to change the future and that’s why I write about our country because I think Zimbabweans are ready to move on.

Writing this letter almost  every week for the last thirteen years I’ve had my share of hate mail: from people who hate whites and those who hate blacks; from people who have categorized, judged and stereotyped. But I’ve also had mountains of mail from people all over the world who have an overwhelming love for this little tea pot shaped country of ours. Regardless of our age, sex religion or skin colour, we’ve all got things that make us love this country so much that we just can’t give up on it, regardless of the politics.

In between my letters about current affairs in Zimbabwe I would like to write about people’s memories and anecdotes about  their lives here and maybe in the process become more tolerant of people’s differences and the things we cannot change and more determined to contribute to the future.

In the early 1960’s a family favourite was a picnic on the banks of one of the cold mountain rivers in the Nyanga mountains. Dad would carry a small gas bottle and a cold bag which contained drinks in glass bottles and a packet or two of sausages. Someone else carried a frying pan and a tin kettle and someone else carried the picnic basket. Arriving at the spot  the bottles of drinks were wedged in the sand in the cold water of the river, the sausages were thrown into the frying pan to sizzle and pop and later the tin kettle was filled with water straight from the river and boiled for tea.

A friend wrote about his memories as a child in the 1980’s in Marondera. His Mum would send him to the shop with a list and the coins which she tied in a handkerchief and put in his pocket.  He would walk along the railway line, balancing on the tracks and when he got to the shop hand the handkerchief to the storekeeper. Sometimes he’d be lucky and be given a sweet or a gob stopper and sometimes he’d be tempted to stop and play a quick game of slug (table soccer) on the shop veranda.  On those occasions he invariably ended up staying far too long and having to face the wrath of his Mum when he got home hours later dusty, sticky and dishevelled.

Please send me your anecdote, whether you are black or white, male or female and whether you are from Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia or Zimbabwe because like it or not, we all come from the same little tea pot on the map of Africa. I’d love to hear from you and it would be great if you can put a rough year and place on your anecdote. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy



  • comment-avatar
    Harper 9 years ago

    The London Times published a letter from me pointing out Mugabe’s personal involvement in the torture of three American Missionaries who were arrested while transiting Harare Airport.
    I received hate mail in return, mostly without postage stamps!
    The police traced the letters to a Royal Mail sorting depot in North London. If the writers loved Mugabe so much why did they not go home?

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    Hi Cathy,
    I enjoy reading your articles, though I do not always agree with your analyses. I am also from all the 4-in-one countries that you mention above (Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe Rhodesia and Zimbabwe). And I must say, though the later (Zimbabwe) faces many challenges, the race relations are somewhat more tolerant than in the previous three.
    I grew up in Bulawayo, in the township called Tshabalala (you know of course that blacks were confined to the townships, then). My aunt (father’s sister) worked in Hillside as a housemaid for a white family. My father would take us to visit her every so often; and we would be confined like prisoners to the boy’s khaya. My aunt would bring us left overs from the main house; and I had my first encounter with jelly on one of those visits (of course we could not make jelly at home because my parents could not afford a fridge).
    I particularly remember a day during one such visit, when two white boys who were about roughly my age (one of them was the son of my aunt’s employers and the other was his friend, probably from next door). The two boys were playing ball on the lush green lawn inside the tightly secured walls of the villa. I longed to go and join them, but my aunt wouldn’t hear of it, because as she said; that would lead to her dismissal.
    So all I could do was peep from the small window and dream that one day I would also buy a real ball and play it at Barbour fields stadium with my friends. Until then, I only played the rag ball that we made from plastic wrapped around old cloth and any other material we could lay our hands on. My friends and I would play this ball on the street, and every so often the ball would go into our neighbours’ gardens and we would get a huge scolding if we broke the tjomolia (green vegetable) when we ran into the garden to retrieve the ball.
    This is just one of my memories Cathy. This lovely “teapot” of ours has always conjured ‘good, bad, and sometimes ugly’ memories. Take care, and keep writing!

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    Thank u Cathy. You are such a wonderful writer. I enjoy reading your articles very much. I hope its millions who enjoys them. Pliz keep up the good work. May the Lord bless you. Gone are the days Cathy when we used to go shopping with a 50 cents. But you bring food for the whole family for the whole week. When a 5 cents (with a hare or a rabbit) used to buy a first class loaf of bread from Lobels. Will Zimbabwe be the same agian? I remember in 1986 when we used to laugh at Zambian people with my friends that they a loaf of bread at 5 dollars, without knowing currencie’s differencies. By that time in Zim it was 20 cents a loaf. But today they are better than us. Things do change Cathy do not lose hope. They will not live forever, they are not God (you know who) they reduce us to be beggars. But time will tell.

    I am black Zimbabwean guy. I love all the people from different races. As you always say until next time. Thank you.