A few thoughts on some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe…

‘Bright’ human beings are as likely to be clothed in humility and hard work as they are scholarly accomplishments – I believe some of the most prized ideas come from those who think outside the box of traditional intellectual conforms – But since it’s been drawn to our attention:
Some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe comes from a country frequently reported as having the highest literacy rate in Africa.  89% of the adult population are literate, according to World Bank data from 2014, with recent figures claiming that figure is 90% – Yup, the highest adult literacy rate on the continent. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the United States can’t read, that’s 14 percent of the population… A higher figure of illiteracy than Zimbabwe’s 10 percent.

Secondly,  some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has lived through a civil war, an inflation rate peaking at 231 million percent and a 37 year dictatorship. Whether he was a farm worker or farm owner, a mechanic or medic, a bank owner, a miner, a sales assistant or a gardener, he has suffered and seen suffering and yet Zimbabweans are still celebrated for always smiling. How’s that for merit?

As well as the likelihood of him being one of the friendliest, most hardworking men you will encounter, some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has a name and a face and a family and a community. Just like your uncle, my uncle, and anyone else’s uncle, some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe has an untold story and he, like us, is entitled to a past and a future. Yes – the complications associated with an influx of refugees into any country can by no means be overlooked, but surely the issue runs deeper than a prejudiced and heedless dismissal of human worth.

Have a chat to some guy’s uncle from Zimbabwe – I reckon he’d surprise you –  And don’t get me started on some guy’s aunt


Africa day away from Africa

Savanna’s on my mind – 

Vast blankets of gold that we’ve left far behind.

Dreaming of a sky that quivers with amber and gold;

 Ineffable warmth with a delicate hold.

The Welsh call it hireath – a majestic kind of pain;

An ache for roaring skies and emancipating rain,

A longing for deep drums and swirling maroon dust,

For bare feet on baked ground

– Ethereal lust

 Africans in a home far away –

Somnambulists in a world of sophisticated grey.

Amongst city hype, let a soul stray

– Soak up the limerence that never fully goes away.

Happiness is an eclipse where we’re never alone,

But God, there’s only one place I’ll ever truly call home.

We’ll step away, for a day, from big city lights 

And remember white stars breathed across warm, navy nights.

We’ll imagine the thunder, breathe in petrichor air

And just for today

I’ll pretend I was there. 


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 –

Big blue, I turn to you.

Tumble down you turquoise blue 

And let me feel the weight of you.

A solid engulfing sunshine mess,

Swallow me into cooler depths.

Take watery hands right down my spine,

Make your world a world of mine. 

Ocean hands stroke sandy hair

Salted brush of rippling care.

Blue eyes stare at a bluer gaze 

And sting with beauty’s bitter haze.

A moments pause of space and time

Falls within your living shrine

Freedom is the weight of blue

Only me. Only you. 

True navy take me deeper, deeper 

And lift my soul with every meter. 

A compass lost to all direction 

I subsist with only blue affection

Silent, stagnant muffled sound

Heart on ribs, a gently pound.

Deluge me you majestic ocean

Leave intuition lost, unspoken

I become your subtle unlade shell

A body bending with your swell

You have engulfed me you eternal blue 

You exist in me and I in you

Thoughts deserted, I only feel

And in this second – life is real. 

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.