Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for walking with me on my adventures for another year, for seeing what I see and sharing the laughter and the tears of our beautiful Zimbabwe with me. Thank you for watching with me as I sit on the tailgate of my vehicle looking at a huge elephant scuffing out clumps of grass in wild and remote places or for bending down next to me and watching thousands of flying ants emerging from a tiny crack in the ground after the rain. Thank you for your hand on my shoulder when I stop outside a supermarket to help a lady with a few dollars for her groceries or give a loaf of bread to an old man; I can feel you there with me. I could imagine you there with me today when I drove out of town and bought a truck full of watermelons to take to an old age home for the poorest of the poor in my home town. I laughed and quickly got out of the way when one man jumped into the back of my truck and another started throwing the huge watermelons to him to load. ‘Don’t miss will you!’ I called out, imagining what 7kgs of flying watermelon might do to my windscreen. They laughed, and they didn’t miss!  With my car full of watermelons I wish you could have seen what I saw when I got to the old age home: the old man sitting on the roots of a big old Msasa tree calling out good morning to me, smiling and clapping his hands in welcome; another man partially paralyzed, his face full of smiles, helping unload the watermelons. Everything was admired, efforts praised and when I left handshakes were hearty and sincere, all our eyes were shining. The shade of the Msasa trees was beckoning, watermelons were waiting to be cut, sweet, juicy pink flesh, sticky chins, black pips to spit out. Such a small gift, such a big impact. My heart was full.

This is the real heart of Zimbabwe, the country that we all love, and this letter today is for you, to thank you for reading these Letters and being a part of our ongoing story for the past 23 years.

I will never forget everyone who joined my call in May to lobby against mining in Mana Pools. Or Diana who laid a wreath on Remembrance Sunday for the Southern Rhodesian soldiers who lost their lives in WW2 after reading my Letter in November, or the people who started a petition to the UK parliament to allow our soldiers to march past the cenotaph to honour those who died. That my words would elicit such a response brought humility to my heart and tears to my eyes, as do the hundreds of emails that keep on coming from all of you week after week. I read every one and reply to as many as I can. As you share your comments and stories with me I laugh at some and cry at others and I always know that we have one thing in common, regardless of all of our differences, and that is our love for this country.

I would like to thank all the people who have shared their time and knowledge with me, giving me an insight into various topics and to so many people who have helped me this year, and in the years before. I couldn’t do it without you and am humbled by all of you. 23 years of Letters From Zimbabwe now going to people in 70 countries around the world and you’ve been by my side throughout it all. ‘Thank You,’ is inadequate but comes from my heart.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and that in 2024 you may achieve what you are striving for.

There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time: Ndini shamwari yenyu (I am your friend)

Love Cathy 23 December 2023. Copyright © Cathy Buckle