Millions, billions, trillions by Cathy Buckle

Cathy Buckle

Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,

All week a spotted eagle owl has been hooting early in the afternoon
in my garden, hours before the stunning caramel sunsets so typical of
winter in Zimbabwe. The strangeness of the day time calling of the owl
comes in the same week as the sad news of the latest casualty to
Zimbabwe’s long struggle to a new order.

Since February 2000 nothing has been normal or predictable about
Zimbabwe but one thing has been constant and that is the shortwave
radio broadcast at 7pm every night from London. For the last thirteen
years, since the 19th December 2001, SW Radio Africa has been our
nightly companion. Through bouts of deliberate jamming and
interference; often by candle, torch or firelight and with solar
powered, battery or wind up radios, we have followed them as they have
told our story for us, been our voice to the world.

Many of us who have followed SW Radio Africa listened with tears in
our eyes to their first broadcast thirteen years ago. By that time we
had been a country in deep crisis for 22 months: farms were being
violently grabbed every day; people were on the run everywhere;
torture, terror, burning and looting were daily occurrences; political
violence was widespread and anyone involved or supporting opposition
politics was in danger and under attack. In the week before the first
SW Radio Africa broadcast four men were brutally murdered in political
violence; their names, and their sacrifice for Zimbabwe, have not been
forgotten: Trymore Midzi (Bindura), Titus Nheya (Karoi), Milton
Chambati (Magunge) and Laban Chiweta (Bindura).

At the end of their first broadcast on the 19th December 2001 SW Radio
Africa closed with a message, sung by and for Zimbabweans: ‘hold on
just a little bit longer.’ We are still trying to hold on but it was
with great sadness this week to hear SW Radio Africa make the
announcement we so dreaded. Station Manager Gerry Jackson said that
their short wave radio broadcasts would end on Friday the 18th of
July. Gerry thanked Zimbabweans for being such loyal supporters, for
sharing their stories and bringing SW Radio Africa into their homes
for thirteen years. Zimbabwe will never forget SW Radio Africa or any
of their staff whose voices have retold our horror stories, lived with
us through our anguish and cried with us at each inhumanity.

I have been proud to have had my letters from Zimbabwe read on SW
Radio Africa for the last thirteen years; it has been a humbling
experience. My second book containing an edited collection of those
letters is now in print. ‘Millions, billions, trillions’ tells the
story of Zimbabwe from 2005 to February 2009. It was a time of madness
that most of us would rather forget but it is a part of us and of our
history. Until next time, thanks for reading,

love cathy

For information on my new book: “MILLIONS, BILLIONS, TRILLIONS,”
or its predecessor: “CAN YOU HEAR THE DRUMS,” or my other books
about Zimbabwe: “Innocent Victims,” “African Tears,” “Beyond
Tears” and “IMIRE,” or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this letter,
please visit my website or contact [email protected]

See other recent posts from Cathy Buckle

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