Cathy Buckle: The Forgotten Ones

Dear Family and Friends,

So many things aren’t often talked about in Zimbabwe anymore. Things
like what happened to the families of at least four thousand people
who died of cholera. Or what happened to the estimated three hundred
thousand farm workers who lost their jobs and homes during land
seizures or what happened to all the children who used to go to little
farm schools. As the country’s media is dominated with topics about
political power struggles, elections, the draft constitution, and the
private relationships of the Prime Minister, the people who suffered
the most in the last thirteen years have become the forgotten ones.

There’s a very sad case underway at the moment involving a senior
female prison officer who is trying to evict a teacher who lives in a
house in the farm compound and teaches at the farm school. There are
no smoke screens of race or indigenisation to hide behind such as
there have been in hundreds of other farm evictions since 2000. In
this case the teacher, Edwin Maseva, is one of three teachers employed
by the Ministry of Education to educate one hundred junior school
children at Makumimavi Primary School. The female prison officer was
given the farm under Zanu PF’s land redistribution and she wants the
teachers out. Mr Maseva is facing criminal proceedings for resisting
attempts to evict him from the compound which is reserved for teachers
accommodation. Parents of children at the primary school have
apparently appealed to the President, Prime Minister and Ministries of
Education and Land without success. Now the matter is being battled
out in court with the help of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. It is
quite clear that once the teachers are gone the school will cease to
be functional and one hundred children will join the ranks of the
forgotten ones.

Another subject not often talked about is the fate of farm workers who
lives have been torn apart by the farm invasions and the horrific
political violence in 2008 leaving them and their families traumatized
and destitute. It’s hard to believe that a home-made, wooden go-
kart, pulled by a kite would embark on an expedition to highlight the
plight of those farm workers but it did.

Armed with 50 litres of water, a map, GPS and a few essentials, Ben
Freeth and his two sons, Joshua (12) and Stephen(10) set sail across
the Makgadikgadi salt pans in Botswana these last school holidays. The
boys called the go-kart the ‘Mike Campbell Dune Dancer’ in honour
of their grandfather who fought tirelessly for justice and the
protection of human rights taking the case of farm seizures all the
way to the SADC Tribunal. The account of Ben, Josh and Stephen’s
expedition is a delight to read, from the first practice runs in an
Harare car park to watching shooting stars and eating sticky
gingerbread in a vast, deserted sand-scape.

‘There is a certain discipline about moving onwards towards
nothing,’ Ben says in his account and the words ring very true for
Zimbabweans who for so long have been striving to get to the end of
this vast tunnel we’ve been stuck in for thirteen years. The all too
brief account of the ‘Mike Campbell Dune Dancer’ expedition and a
few photographs is on my website at the following link

along with details of the Mike Campbell Foundation: ‘rebuilding
shattered lives in Zimbabwe and protecting people’s rights.’

From a teacher on a farm school , to a dispossessed farmer and his
sons on a Botswana salt pan, these are the voices fighting for the
‘forgotten ones.’ If not them, then who? Until next time, thanks
for reading, love cathy. 15th September 2012.

Copyright Cathy Buckle.

For information on my new book “IMIRE”, about Norman Travers and
Imire Game Park, or my other books about Zimbabwe: “Innocent
Victims,” African Tears,” “Beyond Tears;” and “History of
the Mukuvisi Woodlands 1910-2010”, or to subscribe to
Cathy’s letter, please visit the  website or contact [email protected]

See other recent posts from Cathy Buckle

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