ACCOLADES TO OUR COMMERCIAL FARMERS          - 4/6/2007      <--Prev : Next-->


I remember many years ago when I was an employee of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, I interviewed a "Farmer".!!

Bad word then, a most politically incorrect word way back in the late nineties, and still a "bad word" today.

I interviewed Guy H.B. about how Farmers were the folk, in 1896, who started the schools. They also started the clinics, the Women's Institutes, the Agricultural Shows, Clubs and Associations.

They were the backbone of the fabric of infrastructure of this Country.

I recall getting an e-mail from an eminent fellow broadcaster, saying "you are brave, I have been wanting to do something of that nature for a while but never dared".

Needless to say, my days with ZBC were numbered, and my interview with that dreaded "Farmer" was probably one of the final nails in my broadcasting coffin.

Little has changed since then. The commercial farmers have taken a considerable beating. Their awful, terrible, nightmare tales will be told one day, and widen Western eyes. It is hard to believe that anyone could have lived through such atrocities. Raw nerves have healed slightly with time, but the pain and desolation of losing not only ones livelihood, possessions, farm equipment, crops and land; is nothing compared to the loss of lives of parents, children, loyal staff, precious pets and livestock.

The numbing reality of having "forgotten" some of the worst debacles in the world, came to me last week while reading Peter Godwin's book "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun".

I found, reading tale after tale of the stories of the hideous farm invasions, that I had almost forgotten some of the tragic things that had happened to our farmers. I was disgusted in myself. I had nearly forgotten the savage, brutal deaths of the Martin Olds, Ian Kay, Terry Ford and all the others. I was ashamed to admit that power cuts, fuel prices and water shortages had replaced what was really important in life.

But that is the communist doctrine, isn't it? Force people to queue. Force them to fight for commodities. Make it such a trial to keep body and soul alive, that they have no time to remember the real things that count.

But, I am proud to report that as life takes its many twists and turns for the farming folk, all the more courage emerges. Today, there are more tales of bravery and tenacity than ever, as Man triumphs over injustice, treachery and plain brazen theft.

Look at the erstwhile farmer who has made a plan to mow and bale the grass on school fields, sports fields and roadside verges. He feeds his cattle and at the same time makes a contribution to the sad state of affairs for which we pay our rates and taxes; keeping the road verges trimmed.

Look at that most enterprising farming crew, "Boetie and The Gang", who drive up and down the city roads in their faithful tractor, filling in the roadside dongas and ravines that have now appeared with the recent rains.

Look at the young couple who came to Bulawayo recently from KweKwe. The whole family needs counselling from their horrendous treatment, but instead they have opened up a boarding hostel to make ends meet.

Look at the farmers who have become the most incredible entrepreneurs, simply doing what they do best. They have opened butcheries, established feed lots, are buying and selling cattle and opening market gardens.

Many have gone into transport: bringing in fuel; selling generators and inverters; providing the services that should and used to be provided by the crumbling government and municipal bodies.

Look at the farmers who have taken on the mantles of the aged and infirm, rounding up financial and moral support for the destitute and the elderly.

It is they, who have had so much taken away from them, that bring new hope to folk who thought that their world, our world, the world in which we have lived for so many happy years, comes to a stumbling, grumbling, staggering halt.

Today: services fail, roads disintegrate, power fails and water supplies dry up. The precious food source that the farmers once sought to produce for the masses is now too expensive for the ordinary man in the street. Yet the circle turns, and the farmers are there for us again.