WHY ?          - 17/2/2009      <--Prev : Next-->

As I sit here in the gathering dusk I can hear the Heuglins Robin chattering away merrily, oh look .... there they are ..... Mr and Mrs Robin hopping around on the lawn chasing some juicy worm or other.

Anyone who has lived in Zimbabwe will have an endearing affinity with the Heuglins. They are always at their melodious best first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

The garden is green and verdant, it is in fact like a story book, a fairy tale of roses, vast expanses of lawn, swaying palms and always present is the giant fig tree which I am sure is so big it can be seen as a google earth landmark !

The fig has played a big part in our lives, it loses mountains of leaves and figs twice a year, and drives Sebastian to distraction, but it houses colonies of bats, warrens of birds, paradise fly catchers, doves, bronze mannikins, toppies, even a giant gymnogene, and of course those two giant Hammekop Homes that keep us entertained for hours and hours.

"Why do you still stay in Zimbabwe ?" is a frequently asked question and as I sit here, on the eve of what should have been a momentous week in Zimbabwe, but somehow the wheels are already falling off, I try and justify to myself exactly "Why do we stay in Zimbabwe?"

It was under this very gigantic fig tree that HeeHoo and I got married so many years ago. It was under this tree that my children played, where prams were parked in the dappled shade, mosquito net firmly tucked in, where Robyn slept and JoJo practised her gymnastic Beam Routine on the vast branch that swung out parallel to the ground and low as a perfect beam. Gary loved to climb this giant tree ... how many young people have climbed this Enchanted Faraway tree looking in vain for Mr Saucepan Man and Dame Washalot !!

It was over there where the hole was dug for the trampoline, where countless gymnastic stars were born, where many bones were nearly broken !

Here on this vast expanse of lawn, I have purposely left space for the weddings of my two daughters, the giant Iversens tent has always fitted here perfectly. First for our own wedding, then for the countless childhood birthday parties. Remember the Halloween party ? The Grecian Event ? The Fairies and Elves party ? The Barbie Party ? Then there were the twenty first birthday parties, and the milestone birthday parties, the charity fashion shows and fund raisers.

On this same green lawn, beside the sparkling blue pool, we have held countless braais, parties, staff parties, with endless children in the pool, playing badminton, sliding on the slippery slide, playing bolle, cricket and rugby.

Sadly there is no longer the happy sound of children laughing, I pray one day to have our grandchildren playing here, there are no computer games here, just healthy outdoor games that have built Zimbabwean children strong, honest and proud of their wonderful heritage. The family cot in which our children slept, is still in the top cupboard waiting for our first grandchildren !!

Why do we stay here ? I ask myself again as I feel the last rays of the sunlight caress my cheeks, Bulawayo has a climate that is quite fascinating, we never have real "weather" like they have in Texas, no hurricanes, no tornadoes.

We only have two real seasons - hot and cold !! But although the days can get hot, the nights are always balmy, the winters are sublime with nice crisp nights and warm winter days. The rain ? Well we are lucky this year but too many years have been spent with aching heart watching the clouds gather and then dissipate again and again.

Of course our staff should get many cudos too for making life in Zimbabwe so palatable. No being stuck to the laundrey basket, tied to the washing machine, hung by the iron cord, instead we have wonderful loyal people who are part of our lives, who live with us, eat with us, share with us, our dreams and disappointments.

Here live my four new daughters, Charles Angels, four daughters he left behind for us to take care of. He gave his whole life to our family and now it is time to pay him back for 38 years of loyal friendship.

Here are my three dogs and four cats, romping in the garden beside me, Vickie the Great Dave gently taking my arm in her giant mouth leading me around in her usual evening hyper mode. Baxter the ancient Jack Russell staggering along, any other dog would have given up years ago after he suffered a stroke, blind as a bat, deaf as a door post, but not a Jack Russell !! He even looks like a puppy tonight as he gambols awkwardly around looking in vain for the other dogs.

The four cats all have a their own unique personalities too, and how fortunate are we to be able to leave them, at the drop of a hat with fine people who will care for them as if they were their own, until we wander back home from our travels.

Outside the garden, the world and his wife wanders by, the domestic chores finished for the day, folk gather on street corners to talk about the cost of living, the favourite topic, the political stalemate which is haunting us, eating away at our very souls like a big canker.

In the distance the most poignant of all Zimbabwe sounds, the clank of the rubbish bin lid as the last remains of the sunlight dies down like a golden orb on the horizon.

Is it worth it ? Living away from every single member of our family, a kind of Zim exile that we have chosen for ourselves. Are we stupid ? Are we brave ? Or are we just plain ornery that this "thing" will never get us down !!

My heart goes out to Heather Bennett , the brave WOZA and MOZA men and women who have been in jail so many countless times, and to the families of Justina Mukoko and the other brave activists who are in prison right now for standing up for democracy, I hope and pray that all this sacrifice will be worth it in the end.

There are so many wonderfully brave people who have worked tirelessly for this country of hours for so many years, through so much anguish, pain and suffering, please God let it not be for nought.

How I wish so much that I could find a crystal ball and see into the future, and see if we should still be here right now .....