ZIMBABWE 25 YEARS LATER 
18 MARCH 2018
Nando’s Restaurant in the Avondale Shopping Centre, not far from where we used to live, was the first stop down memory lane: to meet with the two families who helped us in the house (Clara) and in the garden (Batsirai). Back then, in the early 90s, it meant that five people lived in the two staff or servant rooms behind the house – Batsirai (born 1950) and his wife Maria (born 1950) plus the two boys, Wilson (born 1980) and Luca (born 1989). So the parents are Bjørn’s age, Wilson was 12 when we arrived in 1992, and Luca was almost a year older than Thea at two. Clara was on her own, her husband died years back, and her daughter Rebecca stayed with family down in Gutu.
Today we needed a much larger table for our lunch. Maria and Batsirai were there, together with Wilson, who is now 38 years old, and his wife Susan (they were married in 2006). Together they have three charming children: Melissa (born 2007), Masimba (born 2011), and Maria (born 2015). Clara (who has just turned 70) had taken her granddaughter Shalom (born 2009) along. So we were a total of 11 people around the table.
However, we could have been 15 around the table. Unfortunately Luca could not be with us. He married last year and now also has a son called Douglas. They have moved away from Harare and settled outside Mount Darwin, where he has taken over the farm originally owned by Maria’s parents. On Clara’s side, her daughter Rebecca could not be excused from her duties for the family she is serving.
What we talked about? What families who meet anywhere in the world talk about: How is Anne’s mother doing? How is Bjørn’s daughter in New York doing? How is Anne’s brother Per and Bjørn’s sister Sølvi doing? We were surprised that they could remember the names of literally all the people who visited us over the three years, family as well as friends.
And NO, we did not venture into a debate about how Zimbabwe is doing after the dramatic changes in November 2017, resulting in the fall of President Mugabe and the rise to power of President Mnangagwa. Still, from the adults we could feel a sense of relief, a bit of optimism, and a hope that the future could finally be better than they thought a few months ago.
16 MARCH 2018
Today, together with my wife Anne, I embark upon a tour down memory lane in our beloved Zimbabwe. We plan to visit people and places all around the country. We will start in the capital Harare, where we lived in the area called Strathaven, not far from the city centre. Then we will drive to Nyanga, and continue to Chimanimani, Buhera, Masvingo, Gwanda, Bulawayo, Nkayi, Binga, Gokwe and Nembudzia – weather permitting, in particular the rainy part of the weather, which can make some of the roads difficult to navigate (we will not be driving a big 4-wheel drive). All of those places are villages and towns where we visited regularly 25 years ago – because this is where Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (MS) had development workers posted. Of course we will also spend time with the families that helped us in and around the house back then. In the photo you see Anne (who no longer smokes) and Thea (who is now 27 years old) in the rural home of our gardener and his wife, together with Luca (today also 27), the best playmate of Thea. Unfortunately they had to give up the house they built themselves years ago, because of ‘problems’ with the title deed, so today their home is on the outskirts of Harare, just like Clara does.