Entering Zimbabwe

Road to Zimbabwe

Moleskine entry: August 7th, 2009

We’re headed there now.

The name itself resonates in a certain way.
Say it, out loud…  Now.

Zimbabwe.

What does it do to you?

I’m ashamed to say it but at the time of writing, the very word strikes fear into my heart. The recent history of the country has been tumultuous at best and at worst, close to civil war.

“That’ll never happen.” says Ralph, owner and chief guide of Ichingo lodge, our place of rest the night before. “The Zimbabwe people are peaceful and intelligent. That’s one of the reasons this whole thing has happened; they’ve been taken for fools and their reluctance for confrontation has meant this [situation] can carry on.

If you would have told me ten years ago that this was going to happen, I would not have believed you. Mugabe is smart. He’s a cunning politician-cum-dictator who has played the system and now isn’t going anywhere…”

Having just turned 86, one has to think that Mugabe’s reign can’t go on much longer.

“The trouble is… the smart ones. They leave, they don’t want to be here. The money they send back is the only thing that’s keeping the country going right now. But with no smart ones, there’s no real chance of opposition.

The only good thing is, Mugabe has no pretender; no protégé to carry on when he’s gone. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he goes.”

Ralph explains that the average time in power for Africa is something like 18yrs; “When they get there, they stay there” he says.

As we head into Zimbabwe the following morning for four nights at Victoria Falls, staying anywhere is the last thing on our minds.

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