Zimbabwe — I forgive you

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I remember the crisp fresh morning air sitting beside my Uncle. Lines cast into the Limpopo river hoping for a successful catch of Bream. An easy fish to catch and a staple to the local wildlife. I loved hearing the un-countable bird species greeting each other with the faint grunts of Hippos down river.

I was 6 years old and sadly I cannot remember our conversations anymore. We lived happily together in Zimbabwe where we owned a 20 hectare Game Farm. I do remember him trying in vain to teach me how to handle a rifle but my little soul wouldn't allow it.

Idealic as a postcard. My memory reflects ‘Wish you were here’ as i get transported back to the sunrise streaming into my room with the sounds of the occasional elephant waking its babies. It was easy to get used to peering out my window and seeing buck at the river, drinking away while watching out for crocodiles.

It ended all to quick.

My family and I would find ourselves living in South Africa some 18 months later due to Government land-grabs and the many locals desperate to enjoy more equality with the white farmers. I was young and faintly remember conversations off this topic over dinner. Dining in a large stone walled living area complete with slate floors and large fireplace crackling warmth and light upon us, which was regularly maintained by the cook boy.

I suppose I couldn't blame them for taking the farm. It took me a long while to mature my emotions to accept the loss of my Uncle during the eventual 7 days of chaos that would take place while i was safely tucked away in bed in our new flat in South Africa.

Making friends didn't come easy. My friends were the sons of the farms caretakers. Young strong black boys. Full of energy and happy faces. We partitioned the farm for them to grow their own produce which I would visit and play for hours helping them with their chores. I knew the language back then. I can barely speak it now.

This image is not from me but almost identical to some of my memories.

For a long time I felt robbed. I felt as my parents felt, a deep sadness and hatred for how they took the farm and my Uncles life. Sudden and unforgiving, like a thief in the night. Violent and merciless. I was told it all happened very quickly.

The caretakers were not left untreated with the disdain and punishment of a projected hatred for white farmers and those that support them. The farm was burnt to the ground and the large stone house, looted and left bare.

It took me 20 years to forgive.

I got older, married a lovely South African woman and have 2 children. Both boys with a zest for life. I reflect through them the same unrelenting passion for life I once had. I learnt something valuable in all this.

In a world where everyone is living to survive, the spill over of peoples needs become unpredictable. When the Zimbabwean Government declared that the farming lands would be re-distributed we could never have anticipated such an immediate and violent mass movement in such a short space of time. The needs of the many were so desperate and now fueled with the empowerment that authority gives, created a black cloud of destruction and near purposeful violence.

The Psychology of desperation is an evil scar this world bears. I came to accept that their was no personal vendetta. It was a raw moment of survival to seize an opportunity for a better life before it was taken away.

I forgive you for taking away my childhood, my Uncle and the many future memories I would have made with my black friends. I can only work to provide a future for my children and perhaps one day visit my homeland once again.