Their heroes and mine

11 08 2014

It’s Heroes Day today, a public holiday when we are supposed to remember those who died in the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe. This is nothing unusual; the war dead are remembered in various ways all over the world. At the time of the so called liberation struggle I was in the Rhodesian Army and did not see those against whom I was fighting as liberating anything. That could just be a point of view I guess – one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter and all that. Except for the fact that over the years a number of the ruling party faithful have been interred in Hero’s Acre (the national cemetery) who status as heroes are dubious. Others who should have been buried there were left out. There is a certain financial incentive to being a national hero in that the family remaining get a substantial pension.

Anyway, like I said, today is the day that Zimbabweans are supposed to remember the fallen. There are celebrations all over the place and earlier this week I had a request from a local farmer for donations towards the party to be held today on his farm where the local branch of ZANU-PF, the ruling party, has its office. I ignored it, after all, they are not my heroes. I was hoping to be able to tell him this in person but aside from two missed calls yesterday morning from a local number that I did not recognise, nothing has come to pass. Yet.

Seedlings of course don’t take holidays so this morning I went into work to see how things were going. Fine of course. It was also an opportunity to catch up on a bit of work as I will be away for 3 weeks at a horticultural congress in Brisbane, Australia. It was worth it on another count as I spotted this spider on a daisy.

Hey, I'm with stupid!

Hey, I’m with stupid!


I have seen this type of spider on cosmos and it was white to match the flower. I wonder if they have the ability to change colour depending on the background or they have to spend their life on the plant to get the right colour? It was pure luck to see it with a fly as when I took the first photo it was just patiently waiting.

Of course I didn’t have my big SLR with its very special macro lens so my cellphone had to do – I was quite impressed with the result.

Tomorrow is another public holiday – this one is Armed Forces Day. It is traditional for the president to address the crowds at the National Stadium just outside town and watch military parades and a flypast by the Air Force with the 4 lonely remaining fast jets that are still flying. There is a football match afterwards to help pull in the crowds. Whether the armed forces will be celebrating remains to be seen. Rumours are rife that they have not been paid and junior officers have been sent on forced leave to cut costs.

So who are my heroes? They are the firefighters who went back into the damaged reactor at Chernobyl, knowing full well that they would not survive. They are the firefighters who went into the Twin Towers after the 9/11 attacks knowing that they were going into a hideously dangerous situation because that was their job. They are those who work for MSF and the International Red Cross and without fanfare get on with the thankless task of helping Ebola victims (and others) survive. These are the people I admire.

Hope on Heroes’ Day

13 08 2012

It’s a public holiday today; Heroes’ Day when we are expected to remember the heroes who fought for Zimbabwe (against me) and are buried in Heroes’ Acre. From what I could see going into town precious few of Harare’s residents were giving the afore-mentioned heroes much thought as they participated in football clinics or just generally relaxed. It’s not that surprising – most Zimbabweans are too young to remember the war. I was on my way to a French lesson with Shelton. Half the way through there was a roar and we looked up to see a formation of 4 training jets go over on their way to the National Stadium where Bob was addressing the crowds. Shelton cynically commented (in French) that the crowds where mostly there to see the high profile football match after the ceremony.

It is true that we have little left to celebrate in Zimbabwe. The economy is in tatters and shows little sign of rejuvenation. We have extremely bad press worldwide and tourism is moribund despite the mostly friendly population and great weather. Then on the way back home I noticed a bundle of fibre optic cable casings lying on a manhole cover and thought; no, there IS still some hope! Somebody is still investing in Zimbabwe regardless of the apparently dismal future. Actually fibre optic cables have been going in all around town for at least the last 18 months but at least they are continuingto be put in.

Tech spaghetti too – I got some funny looks from passers by whilst photographing a pile of piping!

Tech Spaghetti – fibre optic cable casings