Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday the 14th November 2008

This afternoon I visited Tendai (not his real name), an employee who suffered a stroke in March this year and has not been back to work since. I was accompanied by two of our staff. We drove some 40 kilometres to his home in Zengeza 2 and on arrival we were ushered into his home and treated like family. After washing our hands in the traditional manner, Mrs Tendai produced a coca-cola for each of us and some biscuits. Although this would not be seen as over generous in an English home, the generosity was not lost on me, as they have very little themselves in these dark days of cash shortages and shortages of all the basic needs.

Tendai was well recovered. He is 60 years old. His left leg which at one time was no more than an appendage, is now functioning and he can walk unaided for short distances. Unfortunately his left arm is still paralysed and he said that his eyesight was poor. While he can read large print, he cannot read the average book. He was offered an operation but the cost ran into hundreds of $US, which clearly is beyond his means and his company Medical Aid no longer covers operations of this magnitude.

The main purpose of our visit was to find out what Tendai wanted to do with his future. He has decided that he would like to take early retirement and we will now take the necessary steps to enable this to happen.

While we there Mrs Tendai showed us a booklet of photographs published by an Aid Agency where her son now works as a photographer. The photographs were all of people who had been beaten by government soldiers and policemen in the electioneering campaigns since March this year. The photographs were alarming. Almost all the photographs, of which there were probably 50 or more, showed the flayed buttocks of black men and women. Some of the beatings left some of the victims with little or no flesh at all, let alone skin.

As we drove back to the office, I could not reconcile in my mind why the Shona people should show extreme generosity and hospitality to me as a member of another race group while at the same time, their own brothers and sisters are carrying out acts of extreme brutality on their own people.

It took me back to my days as a white policeman when I policed the rural areas of what was Rhodesia. At every kraal, at every home, I was always welcomed, treated with generosity and kindness and frequently sent on my way with gifts of fruit and vegetables.

Yet around me a war was being waged by ZANLA guerrillas with the targets, in the main, being their own.

Africa is indeed an enigma that challenges the world and even those of us who have lived our entire lives here are frequently lost for understanding.

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