Cathy Buckle: Celebrating Zimbabwe’s beauty in a time of fear

In a heartfelt open letter, Cathy Buckle, a resilient Zimbabwean, reflects on the turbulent journey her country has endured – from political turmoil and economic collapse to shrinking democratic space. She shares poignant anecdotes of survival amidst adversity and introduces her new book, “Zimbabwe’s Timeless Beauty, the 2023 Collection,” a tribute to her beloved nation’s resilience and allure.

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Zimbabwe Elections: Now we wait with fear in our hearts

By Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,

We got here, we didn’t think we could or would. A coup in Nov 2017 and then a contested poll in 2018 left us with armed soldiers on the streets of Harare shooting innocent people in broad daylight. From then till now nothing was guaranteed. We’ve watched our life savings, pensions and salaries crash and burn. Converted from US dollars to Zimbabwe dollars our lives have been destroyed. More of our friends and families have left the country to survive. We’ve watched democratic space shrink and repressive laws grow; democratic activists incarcerated for months at a time. The threads of survival grew more tenuous by the day.  

Meeting a friend I hadn’t seen for months recently, I commented that he looked very thin and he said, so simply, so honestly: ‘I cant afford to buy enough food anymore.’ That said it all, for all of us, it is the simple truth. Stopped on a mountain roadside the other day, a man came and stood under a tree. He looked exhausted and not in a good way at all. The only thing I had to eat were two bananas which I held out to him; he clapped his hands, thanked me and took the fruit as if it was precious treasure and ate it in seconds. Such small things we can do in Zimbabwe, all of us, every day, to help each other survive this. That’s what our lives have come down to, our clothes get more threadbare, our faces more gaunt and again and again we put another hole in our belts.

Read more: Fears “coup regime” will hijack Zim election – despite weak opposition

To say that the run up to election 2023 has been absurd is a huge understatement. No electoral reforms; no votes for disenfranchised citizens by birth; Constitutional provisions not backed up by legislation; no final voters roll; no number and location of polling stations and so much more. CCC candidate, Senator David Coltart, described it as: ‘The most illegal election I’ve ever participated in, it’s illegality on steroids.’

On election day we saw the result of the illegalities: frustration, confusion, disbelief. Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono describes it best: ‘the worst election in Zimbabwe’s post-colonial history…. Polling stations didn’t have voting ballot papers…. Choreographed voter suppression … this election is a complete disaster of unimaginable proportions.’ As I write this letter long before dawn the morning after elections there is trepidation and a cold fear in our hearts about how this will end. Results should be released in 5 days.

With all this in mind why would I chose today to tell you about my new book which has just been published? I chose today deliberately because I wanted you to know that as awful as everything is, as devastated as we all are, there is so much that’s good about Zimbabwe, so much to love. It is a beautiful country with welcoming, humble people, abundant potential and the most magnificent wild places. 

‘Zimbabwe’s Timeless Beauty, the 2023 Collection’ is available now from Amazon and Kindle and the hardback from LULU. I hope you will also fall in love with Zimbabwe as you look at my photographs and read the stories of my adventures in our magnificent country.  My Beautiful Zimbabwe 2024 Calendar is also available exclusively from LULU from today. Please visit my website www.cathybuckle.co.zw

There is no charge for this Letter From Zimbabwe but if you would like to donate please visit my website. Until next time, please don’t forget us, keep watching this space.

Ndini shamwari yenyu (I am your friend)

Love Cathy

24 August 2023.

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Copyright © Cathy Buckle  https://cathybuckle.co.zw/

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