It’s green and purple and grey in Zimbabwe because at last the rainy season has set in, just in time for our parched country. Everywhere is soft and soggy underfoot and every day the sky drops lower, filled with grey and deep purple clouds which sometimes give us gentle drizzle and other days huge pounding storms – and always we say “bring it on” because we have seen our vast sandy river beds, empty dams and dry reservoirs.
It’s always cause for such delight, disbelief and humility that nature recovers herself time and time again and our dry, burnt, gasping land comes back to life. Shades of green are everywhere; the first white button mushrooms have started popping up in the grass and the voices of a hundred frogs sing out after every downpour and throughout much of the night, easing our troubled hearts and helping us forget, for a little while, the pains of Zimbabwe.
In the bush our footsteps dodge dung beetles, shongololos (millipedes) and a myriad weird and wonderful insects sporting brilliant colours from crimson and bright blue to neon green and bright orange.
Where have they all been during these months of dry, unforgiving baked ground? How have they survived? How have we?
Zimbabwe has again had a year dominated by stories of corruption, greed and horrific abuses inflicted on those daring to differ, daring to speak out, daring to expose wrongdoing, inequity and injustice.
Covid-19 did not ravage Zimbabwe in 2020, but corruption and greed did.
It’s been a year of outrage and disbelief, with Covid funds looted, gold bars smuggled out, mining rights granted in national parks, months of soldiers on our streets and highways – but also a year of courage and determination.
A year in which we have seen activists being abused, hounded, brutalised, arrested and denied bail.
A year when victims of horrific torture and abuse have been accused of fabricating their ordeals, and have themselves been arrested, denied bail and treated as if they were the perpetrators.
A year when journalists doing their jobs have been arrested, denied bail and held for weeks at a time.
A year when ordinary people holding placards have been arrested and had charges laid against them which are still pending months later.
It’s also been a year when Zimbabwe’s entire population lost 90% of their savings, pensions and salaries, taken from them not by Covid-related restrictions and unemployment, but by the Zimbabwe government’s conversion of all our US dollars to Zimbabwe dollars.
Read: Zimbabwe rules out return to US dollar (Nov 30)
Highway robbery at the hands of our own government has ravaged a generation, incapacitated a nation.
As I write this last Letter From Zimbabwe for 2020, I look for hope for our country and find it in freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who has twice been incarcerated for weeks at a time in recent months yet still continues to find the courage to expose corruption every day.
I find it in the words of a journalist’s 22-year-old nephew, Tawanda Muchehiwa, who was blindfolded, abducted and tortured for three days in August.
Found dumped and in acute renal failure, Tawanda said “my silence at this moment in the troubled life of our nation would be an act of complicity”.
I find it in the bravery of our doctors, nurses and teachers who have been humiliated, undermined, insulted, demoted and fired for standing up for their rights.
I find it in our human rights lawyers who fight relentlessly for justice; they have become our nation’s true heroes.
Hope also comes from knowing that we are not forgotten and I want to thank everyone who subscribes to, reads, comments on and shares these Letters From Zimbabwe.
Thank you for being on this very long, 20-year journey with me, for following our story, for supporting my books about life in Zimbabwe and my latest 2021 Beautiful Zimbabwe Calendar and for not forgetting us. There is no charge for these Letters From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, festive greetings, good rains and thanks for reading.
Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer and blogger living in Marondera, Zimbabwe.
Copyright © Cathy Buckle