Wherever the Road Leads

Zimbabwe 1

Sometimes a great nation

Zimbabwe is a rat hole. Its president, Robert Mugabe, a thief, and with the rest of the corrupt politicians they steal all the money, leaving a once-beautiful city filled with beggars and its pot-holed streets strewn with litter.

The country was formed around 1900 by the British as it was minerally rich. Even today, Zimbabwe exports gold, platinum, diamonds and ferroalloys. The whites built a typically-English infrastructure of schools, roads, transportation, medical facilities, waste treatment, postal delivery and hydro-electric power. Downtown Salisbury, now Harare, was beautiful with landscaped gardens and fountains.

In 1980, political power was transferred to the native government of Robert Mugabe and the country has been in decline since. Whites fled, those who remained had their farms expropriated, 25% of the population had HIV, hyper-inflation ensued with it costing a million Zimbabwe dollars for a loaf of bread. The country has since adopted the American dollar as its currency and most of the dollars I saw looked as if they had been dragged through mud. They reminded me of a “Nature” episode where you see a zebra rolling in dirt.

I will never return. The Economist Intelligence Unit rated Harare (population 1.6 million) as the world’s least livable city out of 140 surveyed in February 2011. The Zimbabwean government has the gall to charge a a tariff of US$65 to enter the country. By rights, the government should be paying each tourist foolish enough to come visit. But don’t get me started or I’ll tell you how I really feel.

Corruption is an accepted way of life. Here is the difference though, as it was explained to me. When a white man is in charge of a road construction project that was allotted $30 million to be completed, he skimmed $2 million off the top. The project went nearly to completion when they discover that they were short of money. The shortage would be blamed on poor estimating of costs initially, or cost over-runs, the $2million would be granted and the project completed.

When a native is charge, the first thing he does is skim FIVE million off the top. The project gets three-quarters completed and it comes to a standstill, perhaps years before the money can be found and diverted from another budget.
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It’s not easy to tell from these pictures but there is litter everywhere. Notice the scorched earth in the picture below, where someone built a fire.
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In the midst of this swine’s nest, there are a couple of oases. The first is a walled compound for retirees and an old age home, Athol Evans Hospital Home. It is run by the Salvation Army and has streets of quaint English-looking cottages, a hospital and old age home all on well-maintained grounds.

My Aunt May and Uncle Bill spent their final years in these pleasant and comfortable surroundings.

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Another scenic, privately-maintained area was the Harare Wildlife Project, housing a variety of African creatures.

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This particular exhibit included my mother and her long-time friend, Margaret Birditt. Margaret is a born and bred Rhodesian/Zimbabwean, has lived through all kinds of upheavel and change but is very proud of her country and would never consider leaving.

Where she lives is known as the MOTH Cottages and is a small oasis unto itself but this post is getting graphics-intense and will take too long to load in some laptops and tablets, so I will make a separate post page.

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My title, “Sometimes a Great Nation” was inspired by the song, “Goodnight, Irene” popularized by Huddie ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter in 1933.

“Sometimes I lives in the country
Sometimes I lives in town
Sometimes I haves a great notion
To jump into the river an’ drown”

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