First I want to correct my previous blog that referred to the coral coloured Jacaranda trees. Jacaranda trees, as my mother has pointed out, are purple. They are magnificent and line the streets. The coral coloured trees I referred to as yet remain unnamed, but are stunning. Thanks Mum!
Yesterday we played golf at Borrowdale Brooks. This course is in a residential gated community and we had to get past a security checkpoint to get in. Workers from here are searched before they leave. Houses don't require the same level of security as found in the suburbs. We didn't see high fences with razor wire. Some of the houses were huge. Apparently one had 24 bedrooms but the average is 8 or 9. These houses are very much a badge of success and the community is 50% black and white.
We played golf with two lovely ex farmers. Both had had their farms snatched. When we had a drink afterwards there were 14 men sitting around the table. Thirteen of them had farms snatched in the land appropriation, leaving with only the clothes they were standing in and what possessions they could fit on the back of a truck. Ian tried to imagine someone coming and taking his business with no payment or reason...he couldn't. Most of the guys smoked. Cigarettes are 65 cents a packet!
Ian had a caddy, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He certainly helped with reading the greens. The caddies play on a Monday and Giff was on a 10 handicap so he knew what he was talking about. He was 31, had two small children and like many others is not a fan of Mugabe. In fact the flags at the golf club were half mast and everyone was hoping it was for a particular person, but unfortunately it was just one of the other politicians.
It was great fun golfing and hearing some of the stories. We were very warmly welcomed and made to feel part of the club. Zimbabwean hospitality made us feel at home.
Went out to dinner with all the family including my niece. Had such a fun time. Osis is Afrikaans for eldest sister, which is Marguerite by half an hour. I asked what the word is for youngest sister (me). They said there wasn't one. Then Andrew (my brother-in-law) suggested Nagapie, which is the name given to a little night ape. It's the size of a hand and has very big eyes. They said it was very cute. Ian thought little night ape suited me well, and so the name looks like it has stuck. Andrew has a lot to answer for.
We had a tour (in a car), of Harare today. Such a fascinating place. We saw the markets where the Africans bought and sold a lot of things, sitting out all day in the intense heat. Dust fills the air and a thin red layer seems to seep into the pores of your skin. I would have my window open most of the time, but depending on the density of the population and the area we were in, it would be closed. I wanted to take so many photos, but we decided that it wasn't a good idea and I kept my bag out of sight under my legs.
The smell of heat and dust combined with rubbish and humanity was overpowering in parts. Two blocks later, the air cleared and so did the streets and it was like being in another city. We stood out by the colour of our skin. We only saw one other European amongst the teeming thousands. It was quite a strange feeling. It made me think how refugees in our country must feel when they first arrive.
We drove through high density housing areas where blocks of flats were pock marked with satellite dishes, and then through suburbs where acre sections were the norm. After eight days here we still find the political, economic and social situation complex and difficult to understand. There are no simple answers.
Tonight we are having a braai (BBQ) with all the whanau and some of the extended whanau. It has been hot and humid today but cooler outside, so it should be lots of fun. Irene goes back to South Africa tomorrow and Serena travels back to Chirundu to help her son on his crocodile farm. I will make the most of my last few hours with them. Very special!
Love to you all, Nagapie