Diamonds in the Sky
Sometimes I feel sorry for people who do not live in the drier regions
the world. In a place like Bulawayo we have zero humidity at this time
the year and it can get pretty chilly at night, with wonderful clear
skies and mild temperatures during the day. In weather like this there
also the temptation to stay indoors after dusk. If you have a fire of
mopani wood, even more so! It is a mistake.
Last night for example, at about 19.30 hours my wife and I walked home
a sky that was ablaze with stars. Venus was near setting in the western
and what a sight. It was so bright you could mistake it for a light in
passing aircraft only it flashed and sparkled like a 100-carat space
diamond. Absolutely beautiful and free to all of us who occupy planet
Right overhead was the Milky Way - spiraling across the night sky
splash of diamonds. No moon, no clouds, no moisture, just the black
sky and the diamonds of space.
Sometimes I think of Africa in those same terms - beautiful, exotic
a backdrop of darkness that sometimes overwhelms us. I have often
what it would mean to mankind if there were no stars, just black, empty
space going on into infinity. I am sure it would have profound
implications - let alone the philosophical questions it would pose!
then be quite justified in asking how did we get here? Who was
The possibility that there might be life somewhere 'out there' is
consolation in a universe crowded with millions of planets, suns and
But we do have Venus and a plethora of other stars to keep us company
force us out into space in an attempt to find life elsewhere. When he
President, Ronald Reagan had a programme under which he recognised
outstanding human achievement in the USA. He called those who were
recognised and rewarded under this programme Stars in the night sky of
America. I have always thought this was a great idea.
In any dark situation there are always stars that light up the sky and
us hope that we are not alone. Stars that illumine their universe in a
unique way and in the process light up our world. Here in Zimbabwe we
exception. Last week I attended a small community meeting of 20 or so
individuals who have just taken a lease on 96 hectares surrounding two
dams known as the 'Hillside Dams'. There they are intending to
restaurant, establish a botanical garden and aloe collection. They are
going to put in fences and security and create a small game park. All
carried out by volunteers and all costs met by donation.
In my sons church there is a remarkable woman who has taken it upon
to help the children's wards in the local hospital. With over 3 500
the hospital is a giant medical facility but being State owned and
is just about on its knees. The children's wards are freshly painted
clean and every child gets a toy when they are checked in. Drugs are
available and supplied free of charge and nursing staff are assisted.
wards have television and visitors from the Church pay regular visits
children in the wards.
Another remarkable women in the same Church runs a massive programme
absolute poor and destitute in Harare. She helps thousands in camps at
various rubbish dumps on the periphery of the City, has pastors
to their spiritual needs as well as food and clothing. Whole families
selected and sent out to a training farm where they are taught farm
and then settled on vacant land as small-scale farmers.
Driving into Harare after 400 kilometers of empty farms and abandoned
homesteads you suddenly find yourself looking at a string of three
where the fences are repaired, cattle graze the land and superb crops
on well-prepared lands. All three have housed their staff well and
milk on a large scale for the nearby City. How they have been able to
on their farms and keep going is a mystery to me - one day I will
pull in to ask, but I already know that behind these islands of sanity
prosperity are individuals who have just stuck it out and have shown
determination not to give in and quit.
Of course there are many who do not contribute, many who in fact like
dark because it suits their purpose. But those who do struggle against
odds, who still plant trees and flowers and tend their lawns, they are
heroes in every way, bright stars in the night of our time. The marvel
this process, is that in becoming stars in our universe, we discover
always wins and that gives us hope.
It is really tough right now to give people hope and faith in the
because things look so grim. We now know that Tendai Biti and Welshman
were actually in South Africa waiting for the Zanu PF representatives
pitch up for the meeting. They did not arrive and gave no apologies. On
Monday Zanu PF submitted their response to the request that they set
their basic position. We have now had sight of that and I am told it
resembles the ramblings of a lunatic - I am not surprised, we have
known this was an asylum with the inmates in charge.
The Zanu document in fact does not deal with any of the issues that are
the table. They ramble on about 'recognition of Mr. Mugabe as
the suspension of 'sanctions' as well as the well-known diatribe
MDC as a 'violent Party'. As if it would make one iota of
anything if we did do those things! We do not control the standing of
Mugabe in international circles - he does. We do not control the
of personal travel and financial restrictions on the 100 or so worst
offenders in terms of human and political rights abuse - those who
visa regulations and money markets do. I think we have shown quite
who sponsors political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe - it is
who holds degrees in violence!
I really do feel sorry for these Zanu PF types - they know now that
really up against impossible odds. Their only way of avoiding the dip
is to stay outside the holding pens. Once they are in, the only way out
either over the fence or through the dip. On the other side we wait
expectation - we have all the ingredients for a national braai and
celebration that will make the record books. I already have picked out
couple of fat, corrupt, lazy oxen to provide the nyama for my braai -
sure everyone else is equally ready.
I am waiting to see just what Mbeki is going to do next. He has no
now but to exercise leadership and get this process underway. The
for the SADC leadership is the end of June and this time I am sure we
going to see that cattle prod in action - all 10 000 volts applied in
But for all of you who are in my universe and are little spots of light
against the night sky, hang in there, you give hope to all of us and
make this dark place a place of beauty.
Bulawayo June 10th 2007