I’ve had Zimbabwe on my mind. It’s impossible not to, the country is all over the news. Activists are being abducted and tortured, citizens beaten, the government has zero regard for human rights, the economy is disastrous and corruption is rife. It’s a terrible , heartbreaking mess.
I feel both angry and sad.
I used to tell my boys we would do a road trip through Zimbabwe. Visit my old home town, Harare. Climb a few hills in Nyanga. See the Vic Falls. And sit together on the banks of the Zambezi River, feeling the sand between our toes, watching the water.
There is something about the Zambezi that is magical. It’s not just the fish that plop out the water unexpectedly or the elephant that come down to drink. It’s something deeper, something spiritual, something wild and magnificent.
It is enchanting.
And I want my boys to feel that enchantment.
I think of my friend Lianne who comes home once a year, to visit her incredible and beautiful artist mom who still lives in Harare, the one who literally rode off into the Zimbabwean sunset with a MUCH YOUNGER MAN. Thirty something years later and she’s still with him; he’s just not so young anymore.
I’d also like to run off with a young man.
Haha oops sorry I don’t really want to do that AT ALL, I have an old one, I like him, I’m glad I took a chance with him, he’s cool.
But I wish I’d taken the chance and gone to Zimbabwe with my boys when it was easy to do so.
As I was walking the other day thinking about all this, a man came towards me to say hello. For a few seconds I didn’t know who he was.
And then I recognised Kabelo.
Kabelo used to be THE car guard on 7th Street in Melville. During lockdown, he disappeared, as did almost all the car guards. But there he was, back in town, and there I was, delighted to see him.
I wanted to hug him. Instead, we elbow bumped.
“Where’ve you been, dammit,” I exclaimed. “It’s so good to see you.”
I didn’t recognise Kabelo, not because of his beanie or mask, but because he’s lost a lot of weight. He’d gone home, to Bulawayo.
“It’s hard at home,” he told me. “There is no food.”
Home is Zimbabwe.
“How DID you get back?” I asked.
“We Zimbabweans always make a plan,” he replied, somewhat somberly.
It’s true that. Zimbabweans are the most resilient people I know.
But they have waited too long for peace, too long for kindness, too long for a decent government. I don’t think it’s going to happen any more.
If I have learned one thing from this pandemic, from Li’s mom, from Kabelo, and from my much older man haha, it is to take chances. To do the things we really want to do. To do things while we still can.
Because otherwise suddenly we won’t be able to.
It will be too late.