A few words on Zimbabwe          - 10/ 7/ 2012      <--Prev : Next-->

The intangible pull of Zimbabwe is impossible to describe in a single word. Nor in a sentence, a paragraph, an essay, a thesis or even a Tolstoy-length novel. It arises spontaneously on arrival, and digs in, irrevocably, over repeated visits. It runs through the battered souls of the crustiest farmers and the radiant smiles of the friendliest roadside artisans. It encourages its people, long-oppressed and beaten down by hyperinflation, a woeful economy and "politics" (edited), to keep strong and carry on with hopeful hearts, and fills those emigres abroad with aching nostalgia. Zimbabwe may be the last place on Earth (alphabetically speaking), but it remains first in the minds of those lucky enough to have visited.

Perhaps it arises from the first blinking moments under the bright African sky, or the cacophony of shoppers, shopkeepers and friendly neighbours stopped for chin wag on the main drags of Harare's markets. The distinctly African scent - a mixture of dry earth, spices, flowers and humanity - almost certainly has something to do with it. As does the casual pace of the populace, content to stroll along in laughing pairs, or passing a languid afternoon under the purple-tinted shade of a jacaranda tree.

It is the profound sense of contentment of being under shelter during the first few claps of an approaching African thunderstorm. It is the landscapes, more varied and unique than many much larger countries, which range from the lush moist greens and blues of the temperate mountain forest to the crackling yellows and browns of the dry savannah plains, with the fiery reds and oranges of the rocky Matopos hills completing the rainbow. It is this land where myths and legends and history intertwine, where stories of bravery, conquest, loss and redemption are embellished and recounted from generation to generation. It is this land, in sum, of beauty and culture, of quick heavy rains and buzzing summer nights, of witch doctors and river gods, of laughter and tears.

Perhaps it is all of this or none of this, an untraceable imprint left on the minds of its visitors, akin to the animal figures left on rocks by Zimbabwe's long-forgotten prehistoric artists. Each person's pull is different in its own way, but we all share one commonality: we don't know why or how we feel this pull, but we embrace it, and happily let it sink its way deep into our blood.

by Mark Bradshaw: