Archive for April, 2011

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Dear Child of Mine

Dear child of mine,

I’m writing this before I’ve met you; before I’ll make promises I can’t keep; before I dream up a future you might not want; before I hurt you and before I fail at being a mother.

I’m writing this letter to you while I still remember what it is like to grow up. While I still have my common sense and before my better judgement is over ruled by emotions I’ll over react to. One thing I know for sure is that I’ll love you. No matter how many times we disagree on silly little things or how many times our wires get crossed, I will always love you!

It’s hard enough growing up and finding yourself without having someone constantly reminding you of all the things you should live up to. Don’t get me wrong, I will always remind you how brilliant you are and that absolutely anything is possible but I will try my hardest to make sure that you never have to experience a look of disappointment on my face. I won’t force you to live up to the twisted standards of the world. I won’t expect anything from you except honesty. I already love you and I haven’t even begun to have you.

Every time I’ll say your name or look into your eyes, I’ll see a masterpiece and be thankful that I can have a small claim to it. But at the end of the day little one, it is your life and I cannot accept praise for your achievements. You are amazing simply for living and everything else you achieve above that, is just icing on the cake.

I will show you the beauty in every day and teach you how to overcome life’s trials and then I will let you go, because ultimately it is your life. Even as I say it right now, I can feel the tears welling up and my confidence in that promise fade but I have time to work on it before you arrive. The world can be scary so if I ever go back on this promise, know that it is because my fear overruled my faith and not because my love for you is reduced.

You are the child I will call mine one day in the future and you are the one I will love forever after.

Your future mother,

AM

Update On The President

Ok, I have recovered from grossing myself out and can now move on from blood diamonds to the uniqueness of the Zimbabwean president.

When I was 12 Robert Mugabe was the only person I hated. Seriously, I had some intense rage issues and if you dared to bring up his name in my presence, I would go all politician on your ass! Just take a second to appreciate the visual of a 12 year old girl [and I’m short and use to be blond] rambling off facts and making complete sense in the presence of a group of educated men 3 times her age with this fire in her eyes that made these ex-military [compulsory at the time] men actually step back. My hatred was pure.

But then I grew up and the more I discussed this topic [and believe me I brought it up in every school paper I wrote, debate I attended and political meeting I went to] I also discovered how easy everyone found it to blame Bob. I’ve always believe “if everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking very much” so I started listening to the arguments from a “defending the president” perspective. Many years later I now know that I was right to question those who blame Mugabe for everything that is wrong with this country.

He has always been an easy target, after all he is the president so the buck stops with him and if everything sucks, it was ultimately his responsibility. Secondly, he had such a huge following that no one would dare mess with him even though they blamed him for their troubles. Thirdly and most importantly: he made it so easy to hate him. A lot of journalists use the phrase ‘puppet’ and keep saying that the president [and this is true for most countries] is being controlled by investors from other countries and not really ruling the country as such. This is a great story the real puppet masters love! Let’s face it, if you can be patriotic and blame another country for your president or even your whole country’s problems, then why would you look for the real culprit inside your own borders?

Want to know who the real puppet masters are pulling Uncle Bob’s strings? The top five… Yes it really is that obvious and that simplistic. The guys already running the country are the ones pulling the strings behind closed doors too. Dear OLD Uncle Bob is way past his prime and hasn’t had much to do with any real decisions lately. But here’s the beauty of these puppet masters [actual admiration for their sneaky mastery] they have the world so ganged up against Mugabe that even his own people are not willing to die for him anymore. He is truly alone! He has no one who will protect him or even believe him. He lives in fear not just from some rogue suicide bomber who’ll crash into his car or risk taker who’ll pretend to be on the medical staff and bring on his end that much sooner, no he also has to fear the people he put in power. The ones he moved through the ranks with; invited to his wedding and shared Sunday brunch with. And who does a dictator complain to when corruption finally catches up with him? He’s out of options.

The reason I’m bringing this up now is because as I’m typing this, there are fierce negotiations taking place at state house to figure out what happens in the event of the president’s death. Most countries have a deputy that’ll take over until elections but there is no way the puppet masters will let that just happen. Frankly I’m grateful for that, because unfortunately a bad leader is still better than no leader and I do not want to be around when all chaos breaks loose. Plus you also have Tsvangirai who’s technically-in-theory-on-paper-suppose-to have control of running this country, which complicates matters further.

If you’ve read my previous posts on elections and Africa’s revolts, you’ll know that I honestly don’t believe this country will magically get better when Bob is out of the way, you need a good leader to back or history will just repeat itself. With the Top 5 calling all the shots and no one even suspecting them as the culprits, they can easily push through the next guy they choose [and it really can be anyone]. They stay in control and continue running this country into the ground while the new president will do whatever they say either out of ignorance believing they are sharing their honest guidance or because he is so grateful for what they have given him or more likely fear of losing what they gave him. I can guarantee you that the new guy will be younger [well, duh there aren’t many people older than Mugabe still in this country] and thus have more time to do the Top 5’s evil bidding before someone will finally put an end to it.

So what is the point of me telling you any of this? Well it is no secret that Uncle Bob is on his way out and I just want to make sure that you don’t celebrate his departure too much… With him gone, the people will lower their guard and believe that everything will get better, which will make it easier for the puppet masters to blindside you and get you to vote for potentially the last president this country will have in your lifetime. All I ask is that you stop looking at the puppet and place your anger where it belongs: on the guys calling the shots behind closed doors. Don’t take what they say at face value and believe that Mugabe is the only evil in this world.

Use your brain and think for yourself so that when you make a cross next to a candidate’s name, you know that he or she is the leader you will get not just the puppet you will blame.

Just sharing my view,

AM

Zimbabwe Mining Update

Well, let’s just jump right in: Mining and the president of Zimbabwe is up for discussion.

Let’s go for gruesome and still slightly shocking, first. The Zimbabwe mining industry is a fickle thing. This country, like most in Africa has several minerals that occur naturally and can be mined. Since the Zim economy has been in tatters over the last decade, investing in equipment required to mine has not really been a priority or even just a good business investment. So, not a lot has happened in the last years, in fact many small mines found it cheaper to close down rather than cover the costs. With sanctions imposed on the country it also put a lot of miners off. Obviously Zim Plats does not fall under this equation, but then again most of their share holders are foreigners and they are really just the exception to the rule. In the last year or so, China’s been getting involved and doing quite well as they already have buyers outside the country all set up so investing here and using cheap labour is in fact a good investment. But none of this is really what I wanted to discuss.

In the last week a mass grave has been making headlines. As disturbing as a mass grave is all on its own, the plot thickens: people were being paid to come to the dump site and take a body to pass off as one of their relatives and go burry them somewhere far away or pretty much just anywhere else! Could you imagine, physically taking a body; putting it in your boot or a wheel barrow and moving this dead body somewhere else? Could you imagine now planning a funeral and all the fake mourning for this fake relative of yours that you are being paid to get rid of? Shows you how desperate people have become for money…

By now you’re probably wondering how these two paragraphs fit together, well I won’t hold you in suspense. Basically these bodies that most assumed were part of a government or anti-government cover up were once miners turned diamond smugglers. Many news papers have been covering this dump site as an explanation for the people who went missing during the last elections. Some were saying it was the government killing those who were going to vote against them; others said it was the opposition party resorting to the same tactics and the diamond smugglers thought they were home free as no one suspected them… until now! What supposedly happened was that these dead guys were being told that they would be paid for every diamond they smuggled out of the mine. The theory that they were told they would be killed [or their families harmed] if they didn’t co-operate has not been ruled out yet. As most of you will be aware: diamonds have come under great scrutiny in recent years due to the smuggling cartels surrounding them, so getting a few of these shiny stones out of a diamond mine is not exactly easy! So what did these resourceful smugglers tell the poor [now dead] miners? Simple, swallow it. And they did… and that is also why they were so brutally murdered. What I didn’t mention earlier about this mass grave is that they have been gutted. Someone actually took a knife and hacked into the body of this person they asked to smuggle the goods out only a few hours earlier. They then dug around in their intestines to look for that ingested pebble. Totally gross and really does give blood diamond a new visual image to work with.

It’s pretty messed up and again: all of it just for a few bucks… Ok, this is a bit gross and gory so you’ll have to wait to hear about the president until this feeling in my stomach goes away.

Sharing my view,

AM

Zimbabwe Farming Update

In honour of all the Independence Day celebrations, I figured it’ll be a good time to give you little update on the country from my perspective. Three major things are mining, the president and farming.

Let’s start with farming. When I got here in November, there were about 100 white farmers left on farms they actually owned. Since then 20 of those farmers I personally know, have been vacated or as locally referred to it: they have been Jumanjied . Obviously it makes sense that there have been others I don’t know about, leaving us with 80 odd white owned farms. I’ve discussed this before but will just recap briefly: the white farmers aka ‘original farmers’ were the ones to put the infrastructures in place and obviously has way more experience on the lands they grew up on than someone who’ve spent their whole life learning a different trade and this is basically why the country’s natural crops are so weak. However it really isn’t that simple. First you have a couple hundred of these ‘land grabbers’ who just like having the property and were perfectly happy leasing it back to the farmer it was taken from. Then you also have a couple of willing-seller-willing-buyer farms that are doing alright, since the guy who bought it actually wants to farm and as he has invested his money in it by paying for it [albeit at a reduced rate] he is more driven to succeed and actually produce crops. Plus, there is a sense of respect towards these buyers from the original farmers, so they are far more likely to share relevant information on the land that will help the buyer produce proper crops. So to say that there are only 80 real farmers left in the country is mistaken but unfortunately that number is so close to accurate that it doesn’t really improve the country’s standing. Zimbabwe use to be the leading country in all things agricultural… in the entire world! They were the best, in farming communities they are still revered and have been bought by other countries in Africa as well as Australia and New Zealand. So to now say that there are [even if you double the number to] 200 real farmers in this naturally rich country, is really dire!

Obviously the situation is not helped by the way in which the hand-over comes to pass. In simplistic terms a guy who is part of the government’s party will say he wants that farm; the party will then go to the land office and tell them what is happening. This is where most of the fighting actually takes place lately: the land office looks after the interest of the land and crops and in general farming and they have recently come to the conclusion that giving great lands, ready for harvesting, to someone with little to no experience is not exactly in the best interest of agriculture. Which is why they are increasingly standing up against the government party and fighting for the original farmer to keep at least a piece of his land. However the government is rarely willing to accept this and the war veterans come out on both side of this argument so it can get complicated. Mind you, at this stage the farmer is not even aware of any of this yet. Yes, most of them live in fear -as do most business who haven’t adhered to the 51% rule- but until that guy comes knocking on their door, they still know nothing. 

So then this representative [or more accurately group of party supporters] pitches up on the farm and tells the farmer he has 3 weeks to move off the farm or he will be removed. By the way, when they say ‘removed’ it is meant in the most threatening manner! Now as shocking and frustrating and aggravating as this is, sadly the farmers have gotten use to it and sort of expect it every day they wake up, so in a sense it is ‘normal’. I don’t know how many of you have ever been on a real farm but if you have, you’ll know that not only are the houses pretty big as in you have a lot of furniture and stuff to get out when you move. Also there are workshops and tractors and all the other bigger equipment that goes with your particular type of farm. Generally there is also a huge amount of scrap that has been gathered throughout the years and kept because it might be useful, that you need to deal with. Besides all of the earthly possessions, you also have to consider the live stock and your workers. It is rare that these new owners continue to use the farm’s workers, which is another reason so many of them fail. Considering all of these things is quite stressful under planned and desired circumstances but since this has pretty much blindsided the farmer he also has the added stress of figuring out where to go. Everything he owned and worked for, his dad worked for and his family has built is on that piece of land. Now it is no longer his. Most of these farmers invest all of their savings into their crops and most of these land repossessions happen right before harvest time. So not only is this farmer being forced off his land that he has invested everything he has ever earned into just so that the new owner can walk in and make an incredible amount of money, he has nothing to start over with. 

And of course while the farmer is trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, the fighting at the land office still continues and generally 10days in they reach an impasse and the party members decide to Clause 17 everything. So now the farmer has 24 hours, not a second more and not even the courtesy of a personal representative delivering the message: just a phone call from the land office. However the final nail in the coffin is seeing this new owner drive up in his brand new D4D and start moving into your house while they have already popped opened the first beer.  It’s pretty depressing to see but then you also get to experience how the community and friends make a plan and somehow help this farmer back to his feet against all odds. No wonder this country has such a strong culture of hope! 

The reason I bring this up is because my mother is coming to visit in 5 days and she grew up in this beautiful country. I’ve had to explain to her that she’ll have to look a little bit harder to find that beauty 20 years on and should be prepared to see once flourishing lands left in total emptiness. Where there once were crops there is now grass and dust. 

There is also another glimpse of hope that comes from the outside world. It’s sort of ironic that so many years after Zimbabwe gained its independence, the country they gained it from is offering to pay up for the suffering that is being caused after they left the country to its own devises. The farmers who’ve had to give up their land can claim back the infrastructure they invested from the British government. All you need is all of your documents and books for the last 40 years. That by the way was not sarcasm. This is a really good thing and great that the British government is accepting responsibility or rather admitting that these are consequences from a war they made these farmers fight 40 years ago against the African tribes. Obviously most farms don’t keep records that well so they’re having trouble getting the paper work done. But again there is hope: a guy who does Lost Documents and can help you find the documents or figure out how to get the numbers to add up. This is also useful for those people who, out of anger and resentment, burned their books when they left the farms. The only catch is that this guy charges quite a few bucks as it really is a lot of work and checking back logs takes a lot of time. However, if the British government keeps their word and pays out, it really will be worth your while.

Ok, this post went on a lot longer than I anticipated so you’ll have to read about mining and dear old Uncle Bob in the next post.

Sharing my view,

AM

All over again!

It’s been a while since I posted something. Partially because I’ve been writing things for my baby cousin instead and spent a little time telling the people in my life what I was thinking directly and not via social media.

It’s paid off. I’ve been having a bit of a hectic month. I’m looking for a new job; the place we were supposed to move to at the end of the month is no longer available so I desperately need a room to rent and my mother and her boyfriend are coming to visit in 2 weeks which is quite stressful. It’s not that I don’t love seeing my mother or that I don’t miss her, we just have a long history and as with all Virgo’s in my life I tend to get really stressed out in their presence. All of these crazy things were messing me up to the extent where I was withdrawing from the one person I love most in this world.

I was getting snippy and overreacting to everything JS was saying and it got to the point where I considered pretending to be asleep when he got home so that I wouldn’t have to talk to him. That sucks!!! So the other night he came home really really late and I was a bit sick so I was actually sleeping and he sat next to me on the bed and woke me up and said: “I’m sorry” At first I thought he meant sorry for waking me up, so I just said fine and turned around to continue sleeping but he gently tapped me on the shoulder and said it again: “I’m sorry” And I got it this time!

I can’t really explain how many feelings and emotions came rushing at me that very second but to be able to hug him and hold him and just have a whole conversation with one touch is something truly magical. Anyway, we talked and we said a lot of the things we were keeping bottled up while we were walking on eggshells and as it turns out we have the same fears and doubts. Now that it is out in the open it is so much easier to just be around each other again.

It’s like we get to stop being mad at the situation and focus on all the things we love about being together. This morning I woke up and I couldn’t stop smiling: no matter what! I just keep seeing him and it’s like I fall in love with him all over again every time I hear his voice or think of him. Being in love is amazing but falling in love with that one person you truly love all over again, is even better. We tend to get so distracted by all the crap in our lives that we forget about the amazing people we have to share this life with. 

No matter what life throws at you: You are not alone! It might feel like you are; you might not be able to see how much the people around you care but ultimately, they are still there. You are not alone, so don’t pretend to be. Don’t cut yourself off from the ones who love you, don’t bottle up your emotions, let it out…

 I’m a little out of practice with this whole sharing thing but basically it comes down to this: I love the people in my life and if I let them, they’ll love me too.

The end,

AM

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