It is a wonderful feeling when someone says “Oh, you are from Zimbabwe? What a beautiful country! I was there a little while ago and…” It takes me right back to the flamboyant trees and dark red mud. For some slight narcissistic reason, I feel instantly connected to this person just because they’ve also had an experience with “my” country.
Zimbabwe is an interesting place. It’s roughly the same size as Montana – so it isn’t tiny – but it also isn’t massive. What is fascinating is how it is has so many different faces: forests and mountains; lakes and deserts; skyscrapers and mud huts. I’ve traveled quite a bit and I haven’t found a place this size, with so much diversity, apart from Cape Town.
With only +/- 12 million people there today, Zimbabwe also isn’t densely populated, although when I was a child, there was no more than 9 million. It was only 1% white, so I really was a minority if we base that on color. Today, I live in America and even though I’m now considered in the ‘majority,’ it still feels out of place.
The minute I cross Valencia street in San Francisco, or Mott and Prince St in New York, I feel more comfortable immediately. I find a warmth in color and cultures.
Zimbabwe was once called the “Switzerland” of Africa, a veritable “jewel.” However, the country has had dreadful problems over the past twenty years, and particularly over the last twelve. Inflation has been one of the worst the world over and nationally morals have plummeted.
If you wish to learn daily news please visit http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/
My first visit after ten years was this past December, we landed in Victoria Falls on Christmas Day, (and what a present that was!) Rushes of familiarity and excitement took over as we flew over the country nosing our way down to a dinky landing strip. I was suddenly a child again… mesmerized. The sky greeted us at our feet and we walked into a rather small, chaotic airport where someone was attempting to make us stay in lines of no discernible order. The passport controller’s pen ran out of ink and the other controller’s stamp utterly broke. We all waited…Happily. Peacefully. We were back on Zimbabwean time.
Even after flying for 19 hours, I didn’t mind waiting nearly as much as I thought I would. Here I was, used to New York time (which is an oxymoron as there is no time in New York) but… I didn’t mind.
I stared outside hungrily as the hotel car drove us to the lodge. The trees… Oh the trees! Amazing acacias, arms out wide offering shade to street market sellers and the odd wild warthog or sheep. Ironically, the roads still looked in perfect shape — strips of tarmac running perfectly across the country side — no litter to be seen. I was happily shocked.
As a child my very best friend in the world was my bicycle. I had it stripped down completely so I couldn’t hear a clank of mudguard or chair or bell – it was literally a chrome frame on well pumped up worn tires. I would fly over strips of burnt colored mud… hard as concrete. Through ditches and up rocks. My bicycle took me to stables and compounds where smells of family and nature contentedly mingled. Dogs barked at a lost cow who was wandering through someones massive garden. Latest models of cars drove together with ancient relics of vehicles. Old and new. City and Country. Sky and Earth. Even then I knew how lucky I was to be brought up in a space which allowed for such freedom and primal awareness.
Anyway… this isn’t about me… it’s about Zimbabwe. I wish for it to be all it deserves to be: a land of natural opportunity; a land of laughter and generosity; a land willing to share all it has to people who wish to learn and grow. Please consider visiting it or learning more. It needs attention. It needs gratitude. It needs you.
Thank you Zimbabwe for all you’ve given me.
-Be well. Tatenda