A jiipsi's tale (Chpt. 1)

Part 1 - The Final Chimurenga The other thing that happened yesterday was Robert Mugabe declared whites in Zimbabwe as enemies of the state. But I suppose that was yesterday, and today all we have to do is deal with the reality of that statement.

A jiipsi's tale (Chpt. 1)

Tribute to my Homeland

As I drive to the airport,

Sweet memories fill my mind.

My home, my African idyll

Is what I now leave behind.

I think of Zimbabwe’s beauty,

A natural wonder it stands,

Apart from all other places,

A truly breathtaking land.

The land of the red-orange sunset,

Of lakes, rivers and waterfalls.

A place where the bush tracks never end,

Where the hyena so often calls.

The flowers of Africa lie here,

In this wondrous, amazing land.

Thunderstorms are seen as noble;

In grandeur they all stand.

This is God’s very own country, Where peace and calm once used to reign –

But now there are too many problems,

Will things ever be normal again?

I’m adamant I won’t look behind me,

To say goodbye to my childhood and home,

But I cannot resist one last glance

At the land I could once freely roam.

I’m sure my new life is a good thing

So why does a tear leave my eye?

My heart will always be with you –

I love you Africa – goodbye…

Ashleigh (age 16 - courtesy e-zim.com)


19 April 2000

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Yesterday we decided to leave. There it is, five apparently simple words, that don’t begin to reveal the hidden desperation and anguish of a group of people that are facing the greatest uncertainties of their lives. There was a time when the academic contemplation of the intrinsic value of words would have interested me. But not now. Now life has become absorbed with the living of what only a short while ago I would have regarded as the incomprehensible tragedies of life that befall other people in other places. Not me and my people in my country. Life now has become entertainment for satellite TV viewers where we are providing the entertainment on global news networks. Life now is about not knowing what happened to yesterday, not knowing what tomorrow holds and not knowing how to cope with living with the present.

I suppose the greatest reason why disasters are disasters is that they are always unexpected. I mean, if you knew they were going to happen, then you would avoid them, or take steps to limit their effect, but then they wouldn’t be disasters, would they? I guess there are also those people who could foresee all the problems we are facing, and they would say that we should have expected this to happen. But whether we were just too naive to believe it could happen, or just too desperate for it not to happen that we ignored all the warning signs, all of us that are left here didn’t expect to be in this tragic predicament. If you didn’t live here, I suppose you could review the last fifty years of our history and at least understand how we got into this predicament. But living here deprives you of that understanding, and only leaves you with bewilderment at the contemplation of your shattered life. Maybe through writing down these contemplations, I will achieve a degree of understanding. Maybe through the thought process necessary to articulate my thoughts into written form, I will restore some sense of order to my life. Maybe through discussion with my fellow people of Zimbabwe, I will learn a greater understanding of what is happening and why. Or maybe the distractions of my present everyday existence will put an end to my intentions of chronicling our lives. Maybe.

The other thing that happened yesterday was Robert Mugabe declared whites in Zimbabwe as enemies of the state.

But I suppose that was yesterday, and today all we have to do is deal with the reality of that statement.

It is the dealing with that statement that I think finally did it for me. I have finally concluded that Mugabe is prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to maintain his power in this country. That Mugabe will compromise, not only the economy of this country, but he will destroy the lives of all those around him to keep his grip on power. Faced with the first serious challenge to his party’s rule in Zimbabwe since gaining independence, Mugabe has finally displayed his true colours - he is a genocidal megalomaniac. His present persecution of the whites in this country, whilst it may be borne from a hatred of the former white colonial masters, seems to have manifested itself now purely for the convenience of the moment. Desperate to cling to power, Mugabe is playing ‘the race card’ in the most despicable fashion imaginable. By what I see as an orchestrated policy of murder and violence, Mugabe hopes to destabilise the country to a point where free and fair elections are no longer a possibility. As a white living in Zimbabwe on the 18th of April 2000, I suddenly realised that my livelihood, possessions and in fact mine and my families lives, are officially not respected by the government of the country in which I live. How did we get into this situation?

My story, whilst I like to consider myself unique or different, has many similarities with the stories of many other whites who find themselves in Zimbabwe today. The subtitles of our lives may be different, but there is often little difference in the reasons for why we came to Zimbabwe, and why we have stayed. Promise of a better life is what attracted us, or our parents or grandparents, to this country, and an apparent realisation of that promise is what kept us here. Many of us were born in this country, or have lived in this country for the better part of our lives. Most of us know no life outside of this country. We did not intentionally commit any act against the country which we believed might incur the penalty of our present circumstance. Nevertheless, we have collectively been declared ‘enemies of the state’.

I wonder how many viewers of the satellite TV news networks have ever considered just what an effect it would have on their lives if they were declared ‘enemies of the state’? I know, even though it happened only twenty four hours ago, that this declaration will have the most significant impact on my adult life as it exists to date. This statement by our President, has changed my life forever. To me, it is no longer possible or acceptable to live in Zimbabwe under these circumstances. Like so many people do all over the world, I have spent most of my life establishing myself and my existence. For reasons both beyond and within my control, these efforts of making a life for myself and my family have been made in Zimbabwe. Until yesterday, my history and my future were in this country. And now what?

Today will never reveal a full understanding of the situation facing us, but it will demand that our minds try desperately to grapple with the questions and problems that have arisen, creating a dreary sense of muggy confusion. Maybe somewhere in the future we will find time to be normal citizens of the world. But not now, not today. I am not alone in this quicksand of the mind, every white living in Zimbabwe, shares the horror, confusion and desperation caused by the events of the last few weeks. Every peace loving, fair minded, black living in Zimbabwe shares in the revulsion at this state sponsored persecution.

To be continued...

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