Dear family and friends,
It's so many months since I wrote one of these letters and as every day has passed I've felt more than a little guilty that I haven't told you all what's going on. We finally got off our farm in October last year and as soon as I worked out which way was up, I pulled out your hundreds and hundreds of letters, spread them out on the table and started working on the book.
I think I cried more during the writing of the book, than I had when the events were taking place on my doorstep. I still cannot believe that we lived through that hell, and came out in one piece. As I worked chronologically through the events, I think I developed a nervous tic as I spent hours and hours shaking my head in total disbelief that this could have happened. That in one year a relatively peaceful, stable and thriving country could have fallen apart like this and descended into what can really only be described as a virtual state of war.
As I corresponded with some of you after October, checking facts etc, I began to realise two things. The first was that without your letters and support I think I would have lost my sanity, it was only your letters that kept me going. The second was the effect that my decision to leave the farm had on so many of you. A lot of you felt let down, that I had let you down. Someone told me that I had become her icon and that as long as I stayed on our farm, everything was going to be OK; she said when we left the farm she felt betrayed.
What can I say - I had had enough and I thank God that we left when we did and I thank all of you for holding out the hand of friendship.
Unbelievably I finished the book by the first week of January. It is called "African Tears - The Zimbabwe Land Invasions" and is now with the publishers being edited and type-set. I asked Trevor Ncube, the editor in chief of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, to write an introduction for me and was delighted that he agreed. Like me, Trevor has written from his heart and his words are a true reflection of the great anger that has filled the minds of all thinking Zimbabweans. Like all of your letters last year, Trevor's words have taught me a little more about myself and a lot more about what has really been going on in Zimbabwe over the last year.
African Tears is being published by Covos Day Books in South Africa and they have been incredibly supportive. As I struggled to finish each section and chapter, Chris Cocks has come back with words of encouragement. I can't tell you how many dozens of times I've changed my mind about whether to go ahead and publish or wait till things stabilize in Zim. Each time I've changed my mind, Chris has stood by me, understood, empathized and waited for me to change my mind again!
Finally I said OK, let's do it, let's go for it, this story must be told; or, as Chris says : let's publish and be damned! Finally I signed the contracts, told Chris to start type-setting and kept telling myself everything would be OK. They wouldn't dare touch me, wouldn't dare get at me, wouldn't dare hurt Richie, etc etc. But in the last fortnight I've started to go into deep panic again.
They (whoever 'they' really are) planted 3 bombs under the printing presses of the Daily News and blew the machines to pieces. 3000 w.v's marauded through Harare, burnt the flags at the British and US embassies and declared war on the world and anyone daring to differ.
'They' - 6 of them, all armed - stormed our little Marondera Country Club 9 days ago. A group of school kids being taught how to play golf, had to escape through a gap under the security fence and run for their lives. The w.v's threw everyone out and took the place over. As I write, 9 days later, six armed men are still inside the Marondera Country Club, 1.5kms from our house. They have lined the road with drums and planted a Zim flag in the driveway that leads to the Club.
It is theirs, they say. Neither the black Manager of the Club nor the white accountant have been able to get back in to rescue computer or fax machine, booze from the bar, sports equipment or food from the kitchens. The police have not done a thing, they say it is political.
Once again the war has taken over our little town, and dozens of others like ours. Last week 'they' went shop to shop, supermarket to supermarket and confiscated all copies of the Daily News newspaper - can you believe it, actually just walked into big shops and just took the papers away. Where my Mum is in Murehwa, they set up road blocks across the main highway, stopped every car and bus and literally tore the paper out of people's hands, shredded them and made bonfires on the sides of the roads. To say that this is outrageous is a gross understatement.
Two days ago, after a 30 minute meeting with the Minster of Legal Affairs, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court announced that he was retiring, before time and after months of unbelieveable intimidation and death threats.
So yes, now I am scared, really scared about what 'they' may do when African Tears hits the shelves in 12 weeks time. Chris Cocks' marketing manager, trying to do her job, asked me about the details of the launch of my book in Zim and I've said no. There will be no launch of the book in Zim, no signings and no publicity. The book will, however, be launched in the spotlight in Johannesburg early in May. Trevor Ncube has very graciously agreed to go and speak at that launch. But I must play my part and try and help Covos Day Books with the marketing and again I turn to all of you and ask for help. May I give your name to Chris's marketing manager?
Have you got email addresses of people, bookshops, newspapers, journalists, friends - anyone you think may want/need to read African Tears, anyone you think, by reading African Tears, may be able to help in any way to save our country from complete destruction? Please let me know.
For the past 3 weeks my email has been doing the most peculiar things, some letters not arriving, some not sending, my password not being accepted and then, last week, 50% of my incoming letters completely blank. Finally I got to the bottom of it on Friday. Someone within my servers' offices, had tapped into my line, changed my password and was screening all my mail. I think it is now sorted, the password has changed, as has the server.
Before I go, one heartbreaking little story. As we have picked up the pieces of our lives, I have gone back to work and haven't stopped crying at the things I am told every day. Stories from black and white children aged between 12 and 16 who come to me for advice and guidance, anything I can give them to help them through another day. This week a 14 year old girl came to me for help. She, like me, has lived on an invaded farm for a year.
She is deeply, deeply traumatized. She has seen crowds of men surround her home, has lain in bed at night trying to sleep through the noise of their singing, drumming and chanting. She has watched her parents fall apart, has seen their lives disintegrate, has seen all her childhood haunts being taken over by evil, evil people. Will she ever recover? How can I answer her questions? How can I explain why the police have not protected her?
How can I reassure her that everything will be OK, that she will be safe? I can't and as Trevor says in his introduction to African Tears - "...It would appear that more African Tears and blood will have to flow before Zimbabweans get a government of their choice."