The End of Winter
In the subtropics it is quite easy to detect when spring is about to
The contrast between winter and summer is so great that the slightest
changes alert the acute observer to the new season.
In the tropics it is not so easy. Sometimes it is the arrival of a
the other morning we heard our first Piet My Vrou (the Red Chested
that unmistakable call of the summer migrants. In other instances it is
new flowers and early spring foliage. In the dry tropics it is most
the early flowers - well before any new foliage. Right now our dry
veld is starting to stir, first the Knob Thorns - great swathes of
cream down the dry riverbeds and spread across the open bushveld. Then
shrubs with their brilliant yellow flowers, the wild Wisteria, pale
and blue showers of blossoms on the most unlikely looking trees and
Perhaps it is because it is so dry and arid that we notice these things
than the emerging greens of the wetter lands of the north. What always
me is the resourcefulness of these early flowering trees and shrubs.
must dig deep to find the water for this end of winter celebration and
certainly they do it to signal that soon the rains will come and life
start a new cycle. The veld is almost completely bare at this time of
the past summers foliage has fallen and everything waits for the rains.
the Giraffe the early flowers are more than just a signal of change,
are life saving.
Zimbabwe is just like this at present - our shelves are bare; our
silent and empty, people forage for anything to eat and keep their
supplied. What is available is poor quality and expensive. Choice is
non-existent. We are like Impala scrounging fallen leaves and spent
to fill our stomachs. Only digging in the sand or walking long
an isolated drinking point finds water.
But these severe conditions do not suggest to the wild life or to us
there is no life - in fact this is a time of expectation. We know
change is coming just a sure as day follows night. These severe
do not deter the migrants - they arrive as scheduled, flying in from
sumer homes in Europe and central Africa. Some making flight of over 10
kilometers from the lush green plains of Europe to travel to the harsh,
open veld of Africa. They know that the rains will bring richness to
wilderness that is not found elsewhere and here they will grow strong
fat in preparation for the next flight to Europe.
For me I have always known that one day the season will change here.
rains might fail but we still go out and prepare for the next season.
time I can see lots of signs that a real change of season is about to
on us. Like the bushveld, you have to be aware and to look closely for
Often in Africa we have to search in far places for sign that the
season is going to be a good one. We look at the El Nino conditions in
Pacific Ocean, we study the monsoon rains in India, we watch the early
in South Africa and the rainfall patterns across the tropics. This year
the omens are positive. We have seen good early rains in South Africa;
rain in the tropics and India and the El Nino in the Pacific is benign.
In politics you can see the same indicators - those who know what is
happening behind closed doors are saying that change is under way -
in previous seasons, but this time real change. If I look into the
of power in the USA or the EU, I see the same spirit - a burst of new
flowers signaling a new season. If I look south, I see the same signs.
even see the first migrants - young people returning home, suddenly
for the dry open spaces of Africa, for the smells of dust and cattle
and the red sunsets and the cry of a fish eagle high in the sky above
New investors with cash to spend and fences to build before the grass
through the dry pastures.
Crazy? Yes - if you do not know your seasons, simply good judgment if
The question I ask is what is Zanu PF doing about all this. They
a strategy that assumed they could handle the SADC leadership using
traditional allies in the group. They assumed they could ring fence
and his team and ensure that their power and influence over events
muted and distorted in their favor. They were wrong on both counts;
acted on the basis of an agreed principled consensus and Mr. Mbeki has
proved to be a wily opponent and clever manipulator himself.
Zanu PF suddenly find themselves in the Kraal at the diptank and are
about trying to find an exit where there is no exit except over the top
that is simply too high for them at this stage. I hear that Mr. Mugabe
threatened to leave the SADC recently - that fits. 'Stop the world,
to get off!' he was saying. His colleagues simply told him to stop
silly and eat his porridge.
The MDC is in there as well - we know what is coming and are now
for the dipping. We do not have the parasite load that the Zanu PF
have and have little to fear. We are just working to make sure that the
is the right strength for those bugs!
I said to a group of students the other day 'are you ready for this
the final battle, have you got your gun and is it loaded?' What I
that this time and in this struggle our only weapon is our vote, we can
defeat tyranny with the pen - that is our weapon. I said to the
you are not registered to vote you are no use to us, you cannot help in
fight. We do not need people who can throw rocks, we need people who
vote and vote intelligently.
I see that one of our military leaders has repeated the nonsense that
will not accept an MDC victory - another sign that spring is on its
needs to know that if the people of the country vote overwhelmingly for
change, it will come no matter what they say. MDC is working flat out
ready for the final battle - are you ready to participate. We will be
for the dip tank - are you?
Bulawayo, 27th September 2007