Are y'all tired of Africa yet? I apologize if you are, but we were truly touched and affected on this trip and writing is my way of documenting the memories. The hunting was amazing and a big part of our trip, but we came away with so much more. Yes, most of the contact we have with people who have visited Africa are through hunting friends and every single person has said that Africa gets into your blood and once you've visited, you WILL go back. That's not going to happen for us. We're far from wealthy and we saved for many years for this trip and we are extremely honored to have had the opportunity to experience it. That's probably the reason we soaked up every moment and why you're probably tired of my Africa posts. :)
Yes, our trip was incredible. The land is lovely. The people are fascinating. The wildlife is breathtaking. But the country is in political and economic chaos and on the brink of complete collapse under Mugabe's regime.
Warning: Political post ahead. Just in case you want to opt out. Its not a rant, just an observation. With our own country divided, and with problems of its own, it seemed to be quite a contrast so this post is a little different from my previous posts about our trip.
Unemployment is over 90% in Zim. Can you imagine if that were the case here?! In town, people are just walking everywhere. Many are sitting on the side of the roads with a maybe 4 oranges and 3 onions, in hopes of selling them. This was the headline on the front page of their paper one day:
Through the 70's. Zimbabwe was known as the 'bread basket' of Africa. The abundance of natural resources is staggering, but the government got greedy and the "Rhodesian Bush War" took its toll on the land and the people and in 1979, the "Internal Settlement" which was meant to end the dispute, was only the beginning. The black government heralded in the end of white minority rule. Where once 5000 farms flourished and brought prosperity to the land, now there are less than 200 working farms. Tobacco was a huge cash crop. The government walked onto your farm and into your house and gave you orders to vacate immediately. You could take one suitcase and one vehicle and if you chose to take the kettle and officials didn't want you to take it, you walked off without it. It happened to our PH's in-laws. The farms were taken from the white land owners and turned over to the blacks with no compensation. I don't want to start a racial discussion. This is just history and had the situation been reversed, it would have been just as tragic.
Today in Zimbabwe, as a white man, you can not own property. You may own a house and the yard, but you may not own other property. Every single home is surrounded by an 8-12 foot concrete wall, topped with razor wire, and an automatic solid, steel gate. The businesses, like the guest houses, have armed guards sitting inside the gate.
Electricity is unreliable at its best. 3 to 4 times a week, it goes out for 12-18 hours. Water is the same. Home owners rely on generators and save to install their own wells. Its a country spiraling out of control and visiting with Roy and Rich and Buzz and Myles, it isn't moving in a positive direction. They all have small children and the future is bleak. Children are shipped off to other countries like Australia for University and it is doubtful they will return...there is no hope for their future in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is 90 years old and the people we talked to are holding their breath. There is great uncertainty as to what direction their country will take when he is no longer in power. We were very thankful that transition did not take place while we were there.
The lady that works in the office said that her parents had to move and they chose to move to Dubai. Her father was a manager in a plant and his entire paycheck for the month was only enough to purchase 4 rolls of toilet paper...if you could even find any on the shelves. Their currency collapsed and is worthless. The government kept printing money and adding zeros. We found these gift bags made from their currency:
All business is based on the American dollar. They talk about going out to eat and taking entire suitcases filled with Zimbabwe currency in order to pay for an inexpensive meal. Needless to say, people don't go out to eat.
Y'all know I love my dirt road, but this trip made me realize that I have got to get out more and at least read about more of what goes on in the world. I read a lot and I try to keep up with the news, but we all know that the American mainstream media does a poor job of reporting world affairs.
As we headed out on our Adventure, I later found out that the big news was the Cecil the Lion story. Yes, the lion should not have been killed, but with all the things taking place in the world today, is that really what needs to be the top story?
I thought this article said it well: Voices of Africa
I'm betting y'all are thinking: "Thank goodness she doesn't leave her dirt road very often!" LOL