Could you hear us Mugabe? The day we celebrated a new Independence – Cathy Buckle

JOHANNESBURG — In recent months, author Cathy Buckle has often written sad and poignant pieces depicting the daily struggles of Zimbabweans. But amid recent developments, this is definitely one of her more uplifting stories. She gives a first-hand account of what it was like to take to the streets on Saturday, 18 November 2017. The joy and hope was palpable among Zimbabweans, many of whom have only known one leader throughout their lifetimes. Hope springs. – Gareth van Zyl

By Cathy Buckle*

How do you put into words the day you were part of the revolution? The revolution in which we the people came together and made our voices heard.

Cathy Buckle

On the 18th November 2017 I was so proud to be Zimbabwean. My flag was my badge of honour and I wore it with such pride. For seven hours, from one end of Harare to the other, and back again, I marched in the crowds wearing my flag. It didn’t matter what colour we were, what cause or political party we supported or who was marching next to us, we all wanted just one thing: a new Zimbabwe, a free Zimbabwe, a Zimbabwe without the Mugabe’s.

From Fourth Street for fifteen blocks we marched to the Magistrates Court complex on Rotten Row. No one was in charge, no one was leading us, just thousands of people surging down the roads. At every intersection a river of people would join: dance, sing, whistle, shout, embrace, cheer. From the balconies people watched, filmed, waved. From the pavements a million cell phones were filming, clicking, following this day everyone was calling Zimbabwe’s new Independence Day.

Hugging, dancing, hand slapping, fist punching, hundreds and hundreds of selfies and photobombs. If a soldier or army vehicle went past everyone went mad, screaming, waving, cheering, running after them.

When the drones flew overhead, filming us, the crowds erupted; you couldn’t help yourself but join in, waving, screaming, laughing, grinning. So many of the people were under 40 and said they’d only ever known one President in their lives. Whenever a film crew appeared the crowds mobbed them, screaming, waving, eager to tell them: “we’ve had enough, Mugabe must go!”

Demonstrators hold a placard reading “Mugabe Must Rest Now!” as they call for the resignation of president Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. Source: Bloomberg

Along Rotten Row we stood for ages as buses, trucks and vehicles crammed with people headed towards Highfields. Each vehicle met with waves, screams and smiles. Everything would stop when someone would run into the road and dance ecstatically in front of a truck load of people. Cars hooted and engines revved as loudly as people screamed and cheered.

Everywhere, everyone was smiling, laughing, celebrating. Most of the time it felt like a giant street party. No one was leading this section of the revolution; if someone with a flag held up high started to head in one direction people followed. The taste of freedom was on our lips and in our hearts today.

From Rotten Row we walked twenty two blocks towards State House. By now it was well into the afternoon, we’d been walking, celebrating and hugging strangers for hours but the fervor was still there. The excitement was contagious, palpable. Someone starting singing the National Anthem, hundreds of others joined in and I felt tears stinging my eyes. The closer we got to State House the thicker the crowds became until we couldn’t move at all. Drones flew over and we all screamed and cheered and waved. Apparently the army addressed the marchers at the front but it didn’t matter that we hadn’t heard.

What mattered was that today we were united, part of the revolution that said quite clearly we’ve had enough.

Could you hear us Mr Mugabe? How could you not?

There is so much more to say, thousands of images, a memory that will last forever. What a day Zimbabwe! We did it, we came together as one. There was no violence, no bloodshed, no tear gas or baton sticks, no riot police, no fear. For this we thank our army; they helped us to finally, freely, stand together as one nation.

Our future is bright, without a doubt. Proudly Zimbabwean indeed!

I am about to take a long planned time out but please keep watching Zimbabwe as we embark on our new era; we know we’ve got a long way to go, a huge change to undertake, a huge mess to sort out but one step at a time we can rebuild our nation into a proud, prosperous country.

  • Cathy Buckle is the author of four children books. She has also written the non-fictional African Tears, the Zimbabwe Land Invasions, Beyond Tears: Zimbabwe’s tragedy, Innocent Victims: Rescuing the Stranded Animals of Zimbabwe’s Farm Invasions and Sleeping Like a Hare. The article was first published at www.cathybuckle.com.