Hold on a moment while I "Collapse"
- 7/7/2008 <--Prev : Next-->
We often get asked "why on earth do you continue to stay in Zimbabwe"?
Well the answers are many and varied, wonderful weather, amazing people, gentle
lifestyle ...... (oops unable to say that too often these days !!)
One thing that has always astonished to me is the gradual downward slide that has
occurred in this country. If we had gone to sleep as life was in 1980, the war of
independence was over, those who had left had already left, life was tenable if not
But if we had woken up the next day, and found Zimbabwe as it is today, we would
undoubtedly have packed and been gone within a week.....
It was the gentle and gradual slide of the nicer things in life, that passed us by, as
they happened oh so slowly , and as we got used to one horror, so another arrived to
eclipse the previous one.
Somehow thirty years down the line, we are still on the downward spiral, the only
difference is that the spiral is not gradual anymore ,
it is pretty well perpendicular and instead of scrabbling around a bit trying not to slip
down the slope, we are all hanging on by our veritable fingernails, our feet dangling
precariously, flailing madly, in mid air.
"Meltdown" is a favourite by -word these days, "economic collapse"... .. is it here ?
surely, has it happened and we did not notice because of its slow insidious tentacles
enfolding us all and dragging us down into te quick sand ?
I tried to visualise a country "collapsing" I closed my eyes and I saw buildings in ruins,
bricks and mortar tumbled around like those boulders at the Giants Causeway at
I envisaged, slow hordes of people pushing scanias along the Beitbridge Road, their
pitiful bundles piled inside, photos, albums, precious papers, with Aunty Bettys
ashes perched on the top in a wooden casket. (I always did have an over active
The movie "Gone with the wind" springs to mind, as I remember the scene where the
blood covered soldiers tramped home in their droves, bandages on their heads,
ragged grey overcoats bloodstained and in complete tatters. ( Oh yes I have always
had a very vivid imagination to say the least !!)
The once beautiful homestead called "Tara" is in the background and it is a
blackened ruin with smoke pyres rising into the grey skies....... ..
And yes while this very scene has indeed happened to many of the folk in this
country, farmers, villagers, businessmen even Members of Parliament, have all had to
cope with the destruction of their lives and their livelihoods. Countless lives have been
lost, countless lives have been ruined, the country has still not officially collapsed.
Some say it is the money from the "diaspora" that is keeping us going ...... it is
certainly not the economy, as that is definitely in tatters.
Banks collapse don't they ?
Certainly three of the biggest banks in Zimbabwe had the collywobbles last month as
the monthly wages for some of Zimbabwe's companies launched into the trillions and
the banks computers just could not cope. Hundreds of people were not paid. We waited
for three weeks for money to arrive in our bank !!
What comes after trillions ? Quadrillions are next and then quintillions ? That is
obviously why we did Latin at school, so we could count our money......
What would one take if one had to make a run for the border, I mused, would I take
my photos,? Precious documents certainly like birth certificates etc. Jewelry of course
and not much else as there would be no room on the scania or donkey cart !!
Most of our systems have already collapsed ... power provision is erratic , water
provision is inadequate. Formal fuel supplies are non existent, utility bills do not
arrive and have to be called for.... cell phones are frustrating to the point of mass
murder and the road repair system is faltering steadily.
Money supply is appalling, commodities in the shops are non existent and yet we
stay, we have our own systems which have replaced those that should be provided by
the government and the municipalities, (and for which we still pay exorbitant taxes !!)
And yet we stay on, .... are we too old to move ? Too scared ? Too inured with
memories of life as it was in days gone by ?
For many folk in Zimbabwe life has probably not changed at all. The rural folk never
had anything before and they still have nothing, their lack of potable water is nothing
new, they never had electrification, they always grew their own crops and really very
little has changed in their lives except that their bellies gnaw a lot more now than they
used to ......
On the other hand there are many who have gained obscene wealth from the largesse
Now being a capitalist, I have no problem with wealth, but when one has become
enormously wealthy at the expense of the country, that is a problem which leaves a
bad taste in one's mouth.
My cheque book is just far too small !! How does one write a cheque containing
fourteen digits in the miniscule space provided, one's writing has to become minute
to say the least. The largest cheque one can write as we speak is nine hundred and
ninety nine billion, nine hundred and ninety nine million, nine hundred and ninety
nine thousand dollars and ninety nine cents !!
So as dinner for three on Tuesday night at a local restaurant was one trillion three
hundred billion dollars, we had to write two cheques for the pleasure !! Mind you this
was only about sixty US dollars but horrors with all those zeros !!
But we still have our friends, our lovely homes, our animals, our beautiful
gardens..... . some if us lucky ones at least have these things, many are living lives of
desperation and quiet suffering. It is too awful to go to a shop these days and see the
grim faces of the elderly and the poor, shaking their heads in bewilderment, trying in
vain to count the zeros on the few goods that are available on the shelves.
However many of our lively youngsters are adamant that Zimbabwe is the only place
they wish to spend the rest of their lives !!
The glorious outdoors are still glorious, where on earth in the world can you spend
every weekend fishing, camping, boating and enjoying life's simple pleasures. There is
a very active mountain biking club, a Matopos Conservation Club, Boy Scouting still
has a very strong place in Bulawayo, we have ardent bird watchers too, and life
somehow goes on .....
The horrors of the first world are far away, we cannot afford video games, we have no
arcades and malls to "hang out" in. Porn, drugs and the like are quite far removed
from this country and instead the youngsters take advantage of a lifestyle that is
simple and carefree in the extreme.
I know God will not give me anything I cannot handle;
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much"
- Mother Teresa
Check out this website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwean_dollar