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Dear Family and Friends,
Everyone battened down the hatches when the met department issued a nationwide alert for heavy storms and flash flooding. They warned people to expect strong, violent winds, hail and heavy rainfall in excess of 60 mm in 24 hours. Don’t cross flooded rivers or bridges, they said, cautioning people that uprooted trees and destruction of infrastructure was possible and anyone who thought their area was flooding should move to higher ground. It’s not often that we get these kinds of warnings from the Met Dept and so with anxious eyes cast upwards, we braced ourselves.
The weather got hotter and hotter, the sky bluer and bluer while everyone and everything wilted, retreating to the smallest of shade patches to wait for the promised heavy rain and flash floods. It all seemed very unlikely and was so hot that it was hard to concentrate on any of the absurdities that characterize Zimbabwe which is months away from a referendum and election. People in rural villages have begun receiving bags of seed maize donated by Zanu PF, but only if they produced Zanu PF membership cards. While they stood in line they were distressed to see village headmen opening the bags and splitting them in two so each family only got 5kgs of seed. Everyone wants to know where Zanu PF got the money to dish out millions of dollars worth of free seed and fertilizer which didn’t come from government but so far mum’s the word.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any hotter, the Met dept’s predicted ‘strong violent winds’ arrived. We closed doors and windows and watched as the sky turned deep purple. The birds in the garden went into a feeding frenzy; Weavers, Waxbills, Mannikins and Finches struggled for a look in as twenty, fifty and then a hundred red billed Quelea descended on a hot African wind and devoured every seed in sight.
The electricity went off, a few spots of rain fell on the baked ground and night drew in. News came that rain had begun falling in Bulawayo and southern parts of the country and we hoped we would be next. By the light of solar lanterns we followed the news that the main political parties are about to hold primary elections. Everyone’s jostling for positions and existing leaders are spouting the usual platitudes: no vote buying and no candidate imposition. But existing and aspiring candidates aren’t listening. Photos of yet more bags of politicized seed maize appeared in the press; some with round stickers advertising Zanu PF on them others with photographs of Zanu PF candidates blatantly displayed in large images on the front of seed maize bags.
Overnight the wind picked up again and finally, a little before dawn, a light drizzle began to wet the ground. Temperatures plunged, jerseys come out of storage and outside the ground was littered with avocado pears knocked down by the strong winds. Almost as soon as the ripe avocados are split open and laid out, the birds dropped down to feast: Bulbuls, glossy Starlings, White eyes, a red headed Barbet and gorgeous plum coloured Starlings.
Two days later less than 20 mm of rain had fallen but the electricity came back on and we started to catch up on the news again. Two people had died after being struck by lightning and two others received serious burns. The excommunicated Anglican bishop, Nolbert Kunonga with a gun on his hip threatened to shoot journalists who were taking photos of him and his staff being evicted by the Deputy Sherriff of the Court from Anglican Cathedral offices. Short Wave Radio Africa’s broadcasts were being jammed again and Zimbabwe was apparently sending troops to the border with Mozambique after warnings of instability looming in Mozambique and news that an army is being trained in Gorongoza. With Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamond fields being so close to the Mozambique border it doesn’t bear thinking what might happen, or maybe, like our week of promised flash floods, it will all just blow away in the deep purple sky on a hot African wind.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy
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