Dear Family and Friends,
I am writing this extra letter today in recognition of you, the people out there who care about Zimbabwe and what happens here and who are as stunned as we are about what went on in the August election. A quietness has descended over our dust-swept country. The September winds and whirlwinds are here, do you remember them? The hot, dusty, thick winds with pieces of grass, leaves and grit in them rushing across the open plains, cavorting on our roofs, shaking the old leaves off the trees allowing space for the glorious spring colours.
As I write most of the foreign number plates have gone, the vehicles and their Zimbabweans occupants from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi and Mozambique have gone home. Zimbabweans in the Diaspora came home in big numbers for the election. They saw what we see, felt what we feel and were left as disbelieving as we are. Already we miss you, your fresh faces, your open minds, your ideas, your outrage, your hope. You have seen for yourselves now, seen exactly what life is like in Zimbabwe, how easy it is to become smothered by it. You have seen the illusion of normal that we live in and you have also seen the reality that lies under the dust. One man wrote to me last week when he got back to his life in the Diaspora. He had stayed in Zimbabwe for two months, the longest time, he told me, since he had left, by necessity not choice, nearly two decades ago. His brief words said it all: I don’t know how you are surviving.
It’s a question so many people on the outside ask, how do we survive? The honest answer is that without families in the Diaspora sending money home for their families here, people would not be surviving. The longest queues you see these days are outside the money transfer agencies: Mukuru, Western Union, World Remit and others. From 6.00am in the morning people start lining up, waiting for the MTAs to open so they can collect their 20, 50, 100 US dollars that you have sent them. Without access to US dollars people simply can’t survive here, can’t survive the collapsed currency, the 641% inflation, the 95% unemployment.
The other question people ask is what’s the truth about poverty in Zimbabwe? They see images of luxury lodges and tourist resorts, sparkling swimming pools and big slabs of meat sizzling on barbecues. They say it’s not right that there is such luxury in a country so full of squalor. The fact is though, as hard as it may look, most of those tourist resorts are saving Zimbabwe. They bring jobs and keep surrounding communities afloat, they repair roads and bridges, help schools and clinics, protect wild places, support local businesses. As hard it may look to outsiders, many of these resorts are hanging on by their fingertips: huge government taxes, levies, fees, corrupt officials at every turn, inflation which erodes profit and leaves them barely covering costs.
I end this short letter today with thanks to Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who came home to vote; who send money home to support their families; who support sick or elderly family members who need help with medication, food and living expenses and thank you to everyone who sends messages of support, empathy and encouragement. It matters to us that you care about us and what happens to our country. We don’t want to be refuges and migrants in foreign countries and if we end up there it is by necessity, not choice.
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) Love Cathy 15 September 2023. Copyright © Cathy Buckle https://cathybuckle.co.zw/
All my books are now available on Amazon, Kindle and LULU with the hardback version of my evocative Photo-books “Zimbabwe’s Timeless Beauty” (the 2021, 2022 and 2023 collections) available exclusively on LULU. My new Beautiful Zimbabwe Calendar for 2024 is now also available. Please visit my website for full details www.cathybuckle.co.zw or click here: www.lulu.com/spotlight/cathybuckle2018 or here www.amazon.com/author/catherinebuckle