Goodbye, Mugabe.

Do you hear the chanting voices, Mugabe? Suppression now outspoken.

Standing side-by-side, Zimbabwe, courageous and unbroken.

We call you out old man, we have witnessed what you’ve done –

Once strangled by your terror, now we sing as one.

You stood and spat Mugabe; you stripped a nation bare,

You laughed as people fled – Gleamed satisfaction from despair.

You turned emerald fields to ashes, amber soils to a grey sea of neglect,

Colluded stealthily with greed, then watched it’s poison take effect.

Your feet stamped out hospital buildings, once hives of hope and health;

Leaving operations under flickering lights, while you inhaled putrid, seething wealth.

Families fled to borders and schools crumbled with your reign,

But now a nation rise Mugabe – We hold you to that pain.

You saw souls of hungry eyes, stood back and pulled a trigger;

You thought of us as weak, Mugabe, always thought that you were bigger. 

You turned gold to worthless paper, sunk the economy to a blackened, thieving grave

While you watched from your Mercedes, Mugabe – A lavish, tinted cave. 

Now whispers have turned to army trucks, your pedestal must burn

It’s been 37 years old man, you’ve long out-played your turn. 

There is the tremble of the anthem as thousands of voices chant

For all the things that they have hoped for; on behalf of all who can’t. 

When you leave your feet will sting, Mugabe, they will walk on shattered shards of broken honour

As Zimbabweans stand together and sing – Ndebele, White and Shona.

For the final time: President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.

Nation, be set free.

Simudzai Mureza Wedu WeZimbabwe


Zimbabwean BOND

BOND Bond/ Noun

– A manacle or form of constraint used to restrain/ restrict/ limit freedom in a profuse manner.

– (Traditionally) A shackle forcefully holding prisoners captive in their cells.

– (Currently) A shackle forcefully holding prisoners (innocent civilians) captive amidst their ‘protectors’ blunders.

– A tie so unrelenting that escape is not an option. Ropes of government avarice that grip the thinning wrists of a country with vehemence.  

BOND (NOTE) Bond(note)/ Noun

– A legal tender introduced by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2016 as a means to escape liquidation.

– ‘Money’ with counterfeit worth. A tender with no internationally recognised significance/substance/use. Diamond dreams substituted for worthless replications of physical value.

– Grotesque paper sheets given to the poor/hungry/hardworking/helpless while the President’s wife goes shopping for rings and hats in South Africa.
And still, “By grace the people are saved….”


BOND Bond/ Noun 

– Unison as a result of overwhelming mutual emotion.

– A closeness due to circumstance and/or natural collective sentiment.

– An inexplicable togetherness of a suffering nation.

–  A silent unanimity among those aboard a sinking ship.


Whispers of “2008, 2008” slide between conversations and memories of how harsh an aborted economy can be seep to the foremost thoughts of already troubled minds. In 2008 Zimbabwe grovelled – We hit what we knew to be the lowest of the low. Fuel prices rocketed and fuel gauges dropped to sub-zero. Shelves emptied and stomaches did too. Now it is September 2017 and the fuel lines are growing, the shops are emptying. The people are praying… The government is still sitting.
We need the bond of a nation not the shackles of a futile currency. We need prayers and hope and courage. We need a stand and a voice and a fight.

Photograph taken by Dirk jan Visser in 2007. Start of the crises that was to lead to the dilapidated year of 2008.


Pastor Evan Mawarire mirrors the frustrated sentiment of Zimbabweans as he speaks out against the relentless government regime;

Big Blue

I hope I never see the day when the power of salt and sand and sea and sun are completely forgotten – The day we let the glory of nature go and only seek happiness in a worldly, man-made mess.

We too easily lose sight of what is good and what is real. This is frightening – frightening because there is no medicine for what has already been lost

Big blue, I turn to you.

Out of the Pot – Into the World

Ironically, my teapot is a safe place, it is small and mostly warm and all I know are it’s familiar confines. When I speak of it, it is with love and longing, but I am not it and it is not me.  Despite it’s turmoil and chaos, Africa is the surest comfort zone I know – I damn the first world when I am starved of Zimbabwe’s familiarities, I pine for it, but mostly I pray for it – pray that it’s Nyanga pines are not all burnt to ash and it’s dams are not completely overfished and it’s people are not starved and that all the pain that is familiar now is a world first dealt with – somehow – before the tumoil and chaos are too infused to be gotten rid of. I pray that poisonous teabags might be plucked out and stopped from intoxicating our shared space, our shared home.  It just takes one to ruin the pot.

Now? Now I am far and my prayers are close.
Do I know what it means to live outside a comfort zone? I believe where there is kindness, where there is nature, where there is love – there is comfort. And so the answer is no.  And for that I am most grateful.
After being in London at the beginning of the year, I then in May found myself working on a tiny, tiny island off Greece –  a place I didn’t’ know, had never heard of, with people I had never met. I was 12,000 miles away from my life last year and 10,000 miles away from my family. I missed them, yes, and my days were unversed and strange to start. But here there was kindness, there was nature, there was love and so there was always comfort. Like Africa, discontent lingers across the new first world tarmac that I walk, and even across the beautiful sandy holiday beaches. Hardship does not spare even the  remotest island. The problems all these places have are all unlike each other and unlike home, any yet their core is made of the same substance – Greed. Nations suffer in different ways because of it.

White smiles on African faces, turned into pursed lips and silent cries.
English voices once joyful, now strained under the effort of calling for good, circular debates. Greek hands, hands craving the plunging of seeds between calloused fingers, the running of finger tips across textured walls of big family homes built from scratch, the simplicity of tending to homegrown vegetables. Hands that should be wrapped around a steaming cup of coffee as jokes are passed between friends sitting on a verandah. Instead strong, sun-kissed Mediterranean hands tremble in darkened government rooms flicking through sticky pieces of paper with unfeasible tax figures…. Hearts sink. Greed wins. 

Greed dressed in a suit, in front of a microphone, making a speech. Greed with the voice of an angel and the mind of a devil. Always cunning. Greed who promised to look after you and provide for you but never did. Always there, the poisonous teabags. It just takes one to ruin the pot.

But amidst it all – away from my teapot, across soils that are not quite so red, despite the troubles each nation faces,  there has always been kindness, there has been nature, there has been love – sometimes they speak in a less audible voice, but they can always be found.

Dear world,  please don’t completely do away with kindness and nature and love– then what will we be left with,  only greed and chaos?

Until We Go Home

Until we go home, hearts are tender with longing,
There is a difference between living and truly belonging.

Until we go home, passion cowers away, shy.
Memories locked up in a treasury since our tearful goodbye.
Until we return, we envision the warmth of the savannah,
Sun touching our skin in the most unsubtle manner.
Brushed as if with a broom, dry, golden grass,
Swept across the land, almighty and vast.
A lion’s reverberant roar and a fish-eagle’s cry,
The rumbling of the ground and the piercing of the sky.
The thunder of an elephant, a swift flutter of wings.
We are enveloped in a hymn that only Africa sings.


Until we return, we hold onto our home,
The place that we long for when we feel most alone.
Sun streaked verandah, brick walls and green lawn,
Jacarandas, tall Acacias, dappled light folded then re-born.
Dogs panting, dusty roads, pastures sprawled across the hills.
Feet thumping, heart racing, minutes enclosed in nature’s thrills.
Undying sunsets blazing pink in the dusk,
Lungs brimming with evening air, the light scent of musk.

Until we go home, we only long for old nights.
Wood burning, flames growing, beneath glowing moonlight.
The smell of rich meat as smoke tumbles towards stars
Entangled in deep laughter and fables of the past.
Until we go home we dress dull and smart,
Try to forget the rich colours; moving pieces of art.
Bright auburn cotton, deep prints of dark green,
Vivid amber headwear, swirls of red in-between.
Spiralled pigments come alive, gushing as if out a firth
As we dance, barefoot, across rigid brown earth.

Until we go home we sit in a large lecture hall,
We listen to the words that our parents have paid for.
We day-dream of home, but tremble with unknowing,
What is a degree when there’s no-one worth showing?
The pining to return is a hollow, achy thought.
Opportunities lie dormant and wages are tort.
Corruption breaks hope that is scattered and sparse.
We must seek a new home that will never really be ours.

Until we go home, we embrace another day.
We smile, we nod, we work hard for small pay.
Until we go home we wrap notes in brown card,
Post it home to our children with a prayer to dear God
That they can still attend school and wear socks on their feet,
That although they face hunger, there’s still something to eat.
Until we go home, we are left unknowing and unsure
Whether our sons will grow strong, our daughters be cared for.

All our fond memories twisted and undone,
We are tearful at the reality of what such beauty can become.
We see the poverty of our nation, the hunger, distress
And a whisper in our heart asks how we got to this mess.
Until we go home, we look for some sort of hope

Until we found it in a flag and in a pastor as he spoke

And for the first time in our lives we feel courage to speak
Because we see how corruption has enslaved us, made us shaky and weak.
And as police lift their batons, and the old man turns away
Something ignites in our hearts, yes, we have something to say.
One man cries out, “We are enough of all this”
And 14 million voices echo the same words as his.

And until we go home, we sing the anthem from afar,
And we fight alongside a nation that is ours.
We stand small in a crowd but now know we’re not alone,
And in our hearts there’s new hope that one day we’ll really go home.


You, Me, The Farm



I slide my back down an old Msasa tree, coarse tanned bark against soft worn cotton; sinking until I rest with my legs bent in front of me. Silt sand slithers like honey between my toes, warm still from the noon heat. Behind me the pecan nut orchid stands sentry – it’s trees a contingent of still figures dressed in a leafy grandiosity of emerald; a patchwork of soldiers sown like stitches along sloping fields. As the glowing sun sheds its final spectrums of light nimble beams tiptoe through the grass, their silent footprints igniting droplets of water that are splayed out across the freshly irrigated pastures. The evening breeze twists its warm hands past barbed wire fences and across hectare after hectare of land, brushing through fields and alerting indolent brown eyes. Bloated after a day of leisurely indulgence, cattle suddenly become vigilant in the fading radiance of the day. Awakened calves gambol unsteadily on feeble legs moving daringly through the grass, growing in confidence before snapping into a state of elation and becoming oblivious to the rest of the world, aware of nothing other than the uninterrupted motion of their feet drumming the ground and lifting up again- lighter than air. They dance a dance that is unreservedly enveloped in the entirety of childish immortality and in this moment I find myself caught up in their elation, the simplicity of happiness, the knowledge that right here, right now, everything is as it should be and my world is suspended in perfect equilibrium.  The mumbling of a distant tractor and the chatter of Guinea fowls, sharp and distinct, are seized by the wind and threaded through the pecan nut orchid, the pastures, the tops of the Msasas; gyrating, fading and swelling in waves of authentic harmony. Soon the marabou stalks join in ceremoniously, lifting their hefty wings and taking awkwardly to the sky, majestic despite their unusual bulk. Like a flock of old men magnificent in their gawkiness, my eyes follow the handsome array of clumsiness shuffling across the sky, smaller and smaller and smaller… and I look away as the brilliance of the setting sun becomes too much for my inadequate eyes to handle.

Along the circumference of the pastures, between the verdant fields, past the closing farm stores and around the sturdily built brick offices surges a nutty-coloured road; a big conduit of dust, alive beneath the sinking ball of auburn. Fresh marks of tractors and trucks are embedded in the road, overlapping snake-like trajectories streaked across the plush russet surface; evidence of a long days work.

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There is something inexplicable about being comfortable in the company of just your surroundings. A moment of intense and profound respect for nature that you are never taught, nor told about; stimulated by nothing other than a personal encounter of God-given awe. An overwhelming immersion of gratitude. And as I sit there beneath that Msasa tree, comfortable in my own company, my soul is on fire with a fearful respect for nature. . . every fragment of my surroundings suddenly ablaze with indescribable beauty.

I strain my eyes to the horizon and watch dust suspended in the sky like spray off a wave, hovering particles poised in the air, balancing on the sound of the ebullient hum of nesting doves and rustling grass, their waltz illuminated by the soft glow of dappled light cast out by the waning sun. I am transfixed by pirouetting tiers; shimmering, unstable, stirring. Drawn into a world of minuscule specs and mighty serenity; I am left with a full soul and a blissful, blissful vacuum of thought.

I hear the sound of rich laughter; figures of resilient men appear down the road, drawn as if by a magnet back home where rich odours of stew and relish escape large, heavy pots that simmer on outdoor flames. A man rides ahead on his bicycle, emerald overalls folded and tied loosely around his waist. The sound of whirring wheels as he cycles past is almost tangible, and lifting my hand to greet him, I am repaid with a white beaming smile on a friendly brown face. Others break off where small footpaths act as hidden tributaries, they lead to an oasis of small houses with clay walls and thatched roofs, patiently awaiting the their Baba’s return. Some men stay back, submerged in conversation. Their voices grow more audible as playful debates heighten, the authoritative pulsate of their national language, Shona, sounding like a throbbing drum between spouts of deep laughter.

Standing and dusting off my shorts, I begin to saunter home along the road that I know will only see rest once the buttery moon has displaced the buttery sun. I pass the workshops and catch a glimpse of uniformed trucks being put to bed just before the security guard slides the high metal gate closed; A brash resounding knock followed by sharp quietness. I close my eyes as I stroll further, soaking up the faint aroma of the gum trees that line the left side of the road like spindly towers ahead of me. Above the blanket of tranquility, laughter and playful shouts are audible. Children’s small bodies cast long shadows across the ground, a crowd is gathered at the a makeshift soccer pitch. Some youngsters are still clothed in their red and khaki uniforms while women stand blathering nearby, wrapped in Jade with Cobalt blue embroidery, wispy cotton with tones of yellow and sapphire, and one exotic auburn dress that mirrors the ginger tinge of the African soil. As I pass a group on their way to join the gathering, we all beam and lift our hands in the uniform greeting:

Three fingers raised.

I smile at the mutual understanding.

‘You, me and the farm’.




I look to the spot where the majestic Msasa code-poet-barbed-wire-ipad-wallpaperonce stood. This time there is nothing to rest my back against; instead, I sit beside a splintered stump and stretch my legs across the cracked ground. The surface is parched and as hard as granite beneath my feet, destitute without it’s old protector. The final rays of the rubicund sun spill across the land like thin blood. The fields once succulent are a dull brown shade, barely distinguishable amid the wild Zimbabwean grasslands. The only indication of the once thriving agriculture is owed to the disheveled remainder of a barbed wire fence, the firm contours now distorted in a drooping imitation of an abandoned clothesline. The pivot that used to boastfully bring fields to life stands a redundant monster, powerless and rusting in a meadow of weeds and sharp dry sward.

Where vehicles pressed tire tracks like fingerprints, all identity has been lost. Handed to the palms of time, who has fervently laced its hands across the land and left it disheveled and impoverished. Where edges of the road were sharp and defined, grass has asserted it’s spindly irksome power, and declared its pathetic rule. The quiet that surrounds me is disturbing; the drone of a generator draining the last of the water in a far away dam is all that remains perceptible. Laughter has evaporated, dried up with the rest of the land. Lost when jobs were lost. One or two cattle tread soullessly across the parched land, hip bones prominent beneath their stretched skin. Even the birds are discreet; mourning the ceremonious sunset that they know has been forgotten.


The old workshop lies abandoned and pitiful; a half-open metal gate with peeling black paint stands uncaring, exposing its insides to the callous world. I see neglected fragments of vehicles disseminated haphazardly across the ground. Their shapes transform into harsh silhouettes before my eyes as the sun begins to vanish. The smell of neglected machinery seeps punitively through my nose and settles on my tongue like a dirty ten-cent coin. Cold, bitter, metallic.

I look back at the burning sphere in the sky suppressing itself into the depths of the Earth as if trying to escape. Staring across the neglected land I recall the deep sensation of fulfilment that once enveloped my heart and now it aggressively changes it’s grip, no longer an embrace of bliss, rather a new uncontrolled strength pressing down with an unresolvable, nauseating sadness. One lone shiny Mercedes speeds past, flicking stones in its path, leaving fumes of dust in its wake. Then it is gone. I take one last look around at the flat landscape; it’s rude exposure; an ugly, dull vacuum that used to be filled with vivid shapes and colours.

Because there is no one around to recognise my greeting, I lift my face to the sun, the only entity that is unchanged.

And I hold up three fingers.

We Belong

If you are in the beautiful French-feeling town of Franschhoek, outside Cape Town, you may find yourself on Huguenot Street at a welcoming, authentic restaurant, Col’cacchio, after being drawn in by the divine smoky aroma of baking pizza’s and steaming pasta sauces. Amongst the array of white umbrella’s and wooden chairs, it is possible that you will be confidently received by an earnest smile and a convivial sense of humour– courtesy of Mr. Lubis Gondo who has been working in Franschhoek for the past six years.

Is a national identity something physical?

Is it the earth beneath one’s feet?

The colours and shapes on a flag?

Maybe it is none of these things, perhaps it is something immaterial; that flame embedded in our soul, a spark that is always present occasionally exploding into a blazing flame before it simmers down again into a rumbling volcanic quarry of secreted passion. A 2002 survey by the Southern African Migration Project showed that almost 25% of adult Zimbabweans’ parents or grandparents had worked in South Africa at some point in their lives.
I believe that this fire is present in all Zimbabweans; it inhabits the hearts of people living in Zimbabwe and just as strongly it inhabits the hearts of those who have migrated across oceans and will never return.

Born in Masvingo, Zimbabwe, and schooled at Mzarabani in the small town of Centenary, Mr. Lubis Gondo left behind his childhood home in Zimbabwe in order to find work that would be sufficient to support his wife and only child, Takudzwa. Once a sales representative for Colcom Foods, Lubis Gondo witnessed the Zimbabwean economy fall away around him and found himself faced with the problem of maintaining secure, unwavering support for his

family. Like many Zimbabweans, he discovered “home” could no longer deliver this stability. In an act of bravery, a world of comfort was left behind and replaced by a domain of frightening opportunity and hollowness where family and tradition were no longer present.

Living in this new land, there are comforts of home that Lubis has recognised can simply never be replicated;

“I miss sadza and vegetables. Chibuku and the lovely sungura music. And obviously the mutondo and mupfuti trees”

Lubis only goes home once every year. It must be an overwhelming feeling returning physically to a place where your thoughts have been residing without you for so much of the year. He says, “We always pray when I get back home, then meet together as a family and party”. Family are like a glistening water well that strength and compassion are unfailingly drawn from, with long periods of time away from home it is easy for hope to run thin and courage to turn dry.

When I asked Lubis whether he considers Zimbabwe ‘home’ despite living in South Africa, he responded, “Home will remain home”. Although he values his job working as a waiter at Col’cacchio, Lubis makes it clear that he would go back to Zimbabwe at any time if he could be assured that there was a decent job for him.

image2When I asked Lubis what distinguishes Zimbabweans from South African’s his words touched my heart and made me made me muse over what it means to be an outsider. “There is no difference at all [between us]. But as Zimbabweans, we are conscious we don’t belong here. That makes us extra hard working.”

A few weeks after meeting Lubis Gondo, I rushed down to our closest food store to pick up a few things. As I slid a basketful of groceries across the counter at the Vredehoek Kwikspar, I was greeted by a gleaming smile, the genuine kind of smile- a beam that stems from the most sincere depths of the soul. The distinct accent that clouded the voice that addressed me immediately struck my ears with warm familiarity. I smiled back and confidently asked “Unobva Kupi?”

“Ya, Zimbabwe” she chuckled.

And that’s how I met Margaret Chinguwa.

Thirty years old and married with two daughters, Margaret’s life has unfolded in a way that is far from anything she expected. She lives with her husband and three-year-old daughter, Bailey. Her oldest daughter stays in Zimbabwe because the government schooling is more affordable and though she attended school in Cape Town for a while, it was extremely difficult for her to blend in.

Margaret has found her feet in Cape Town; she has a stable job at the Spar and works with colleagues whom she describes as “amazing”. Despite this, her family has had to deal with a new culture and a new country. Getting to where she is today has not arisen without tribulation.

Margaret and her husband dream of returning home one day and opening a restaurant.

Like Lubis Gondo, and so many others, Zimbabwe is the place where their hearts lie.