I was out and about on Saturday afternoon at The Strand and came across a significant crowd gathered outside Zimbabwe House. I tried asking one of the ladies there what the gathering was about but was met with silence. I thought better of it and did not want to push her with my curiosity. I could see from the placards that it had something to do with support for a new Zimbabwe without the current incumbent. Again this is just my intepretation. It was not a rowdy crowd just a solemn gathering. They sang the South African national anthem which was confusing as I was trying to make the connection with Zimbabwe.
The message on these T-shirts was loud and clear. There was an air of reverence about this gathering. The message “Zimbabwe Vigil” spoke to that – an air of dignified protest, if you want to call it that. I felt almost privileged to have stumbled upon the event. The crowd dispersed after singing. They’ve made their point.
I thought back to my visit to Zimbabwe almost 20 years ago and all I could think of were the awesome Victoria Falls, the mighty Zambesi, Hwange National Park, Gweru – the chicken and a party with shibuku. I learnt a new word written on a factory door, “hapana basa”. I remembered the amazing Great Zimbabwe ruins, Bulawayo, on a bus through Matabeleland and down with malaria (didn’t spoil my visit though), drinking Nyanga tea, the wide streets of Harare and the many fond memories of this beautiful country. When I returned to PNG, I wrote a song simply called ‘Zimbabwe’, as a tribute to that great country and the wonderful, warm and friendly people I met on my short visit there. The lyrics of the song end with these lines and with it a strong lingering impression of beauty unsurpassed and a prevailing quiet confidence for triumph over tragedy – ‘…And the pale white smoke will roar, We know it ’cause the Zambesi’s won, Yes, the pale white smoke will roar, We know it ’cause the Zambesi’s won.’