children are not an insurance policy at any time in your life

I came across this item in today’s BBC World

And was intrigued by it
My elderly aunt never married and never had children that anyone knows about she lives in the North and is now 98
No one of her peer group is still alive and there were never any family where she chose to live and work.
She has retired to her room in residential care and no longer goes to the dining or recreation room. As she does not want to experience the humiliation of incontinence herself or witness another bearing the humiliation.
She reads, watches her favourite programs and that’s the sum of her day.
Occasionally she will pick up the phone when you call but her hearing is not good and she hates the hearing aid
Last time my youngest sister and I took our mother, her sister in law to visit they sat and traded health issues!
Until we said please is this a competition or can we talk about something else?
I cried inside whilst there and then cried unashamedly later.
It was heart breaking but then whom am I to say she is content enough. Chats to the carer’s and knows the teams they favour and the results!
It is not what I have in mind for myself

Children or niece’s and nephews are not an insurance policy

”I didn’t want to go to a pub and have unprotected sex with someone who’d had no STD checks
She had wanted children since she turned 30 and was envious of friends who were starting families. She was also shaken by a visit to her aunt in hospital. Her aunt didn’t have children, and Jessica believed she had been ignored by doctors as there had been no-one to insist on better care.
“I thought there was a risk of me ending up in a similar situation if I had no kids of my own. They can act as insurance for when you get older.””

Mother is now in her 91st year and has resided in a fab mini copy of her home with Daddy [Daddy departed in December 2013]for these past two years
There is a 24 hour alarm and carer’s come in daily
This doesn’t mean that she is ‘safe’ but she has her own home with her furniture and things of importance around her.
Again children are not an insurance policy

I have two children and relationships are difficult with more than 8 hours flight time between us all and it is me that is outside UK.Believe me they are definitely not an Insurance Policy

As Khalil Jibran says and I quote the opening stanza with which i agree

”They are not your children
They are the sons’ and daughters of life’s longing itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you they belong not to you”

Your children are not yours they are theirs and will live their lives not yours.

How do you see yourself ? & how do others describe or see you?

It is the first day of a new year 2018 to be exact
And I was thinking over this past year
My late father always called December 31st OLD YEAR’S Night and i have tended to follow this tradition whimsical as it may appear. I have always thought of News Year Eve being tonight the first night of the new year!

I had a weird experience when calling to greet friends for Christmas in a different time zone and unfortunately hear myself being described as ”Peculiar and very difficult….” I was somewhat hurt

Then I reflected and remembered being described as eccentric late last year as in 2016! And at the time being indignant as I had only heard the word used in a negative context.
So I looked it up and found ‘yes’ indeed I am ‘eccentric’ ALHAMDIL’ALLAH and happy to be this way.
I live out near the mountains, I am unconventional, I travel to places such as Kabul Afghanistan or Erbil Kurdistan to try and make a small difference. Despite safety and security issues.
Life is for living and not a rehearsal and this has been brought home in many ways with extreme health and also early death for people I know well or friends of mine. Big reality check to value what we have.
‘Wanting what we have not wanting what we haven’t and desiring unreachable, unnecessary items’

Some ways of describing ‘eccentric’ are below for your enlightenment

(of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange.
“he noted her eccentric appearance”
synonyms: unconventional, uncommon, abnormal, irregular, aberrant, anomalous, odd, queer, strange, peculiar, weird, bizarre, off-centre, outlandish, freakish, extraordinary; idiosyncratic, quirky, singular, nonconformist, capricious, whimsical; outré, avant garde; informalway out, far out, offbeat, dotty, nutty, screwy, freaky, oddball, wacky, cranky, off the wall, madcap, zany; informalrum; informalkooky, wacko, bizarro, in left field
“they were worried by his eccentric behaviour”
not placed centrally or not having its axis or other part placed centrally.
“a servo driving an eccentric cam”
a person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behaviour.
“he’s seen as a local eccentric”
synonyms: oddity, odd fellow, unorthodox person, character, individualist, individual, free spirit, misfit; More
a disc or wheel mounted eccentrically on a revolving shaft in order to transform rotation into backward-and-forward motion, e.g. a cam in an internal combustion engine.

We don’t always know what other people think of us and does it in fact matter

What ever we do we need to be real and true as this is our legacy.
I often say that I may compromise my integrity but I will never compromise my morals

Wishing everyone a safe secure and healthy 2018
Live as if it is your last day

sprouts love them or hate them

OHHHHH not sprouts
Those perfect little cabbages with tough to peel leaves..
Well they are delicious if you cook them a little bit differently from the way your grandmother did
Couldn’t buy loose ones here in RAK so had to buy a bag now thinking and searching ways to use the others
And boy do they taste good

Have several idea’s and hearing fro others also

One Brit/KSA friend roasts them with honey, rosemary and olive oil roasted
Fig balsamic and sea salt
My sister found chestnuts and bacon [will substitute beef bacon] and will try that tomorrow as found loose chestnuts in LUL RAK MALL

Then there was this Jamie Oliver one

MAIN THING is to cut them in half not to do those fiddly little crosses in the abse taught so perfectly by my late father

ENJOY what ever you do with them

Bursting with Middle Eastern flavours, this recipe will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about sprouts.


500g small brussels sprouts
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup (35g) hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 cup (200g) thick Greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp tahini
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp sumac
Coriander, dill and mint leaves, to serve
View list Powered by Whisk

1 Preheat oven to 200°C.
2 Parboil sprouts in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until almost tender. Transfer to a colander and set aside to drain.
3 Using a mortar and pestle, finely pound the cumin and coriander seeds with a pinch of salt. Transfer three-quarters crushed spices to a large bowl and add sprouts, onion, fennel and oil. Toss to combine, then spread sprouts in an even layer over one roasting pan, and the onion and fennel over a second roasting pan.
4 Roast onion mixture for 1 hour or until caramelised, and sprouts for 40 minutes or until beginning to caramelise. Once roasted, toss onion mixture with sprouts to combine. Cover and keep warm.
5 Meanwhile, using a mortar and pestle, pound sesame seeds and hazelnuts until coarsely ground. Combine with remaining crushed spice mixture and set aside.
6 When ready to serve, combine the yoghurt with the tahini, garlic and lemon zest and juice. Season, and spread evenly over a large serving platter. Sprinkle with sumac.
7 Spoon the warm roasted sprout mixture over the yoghurt mixture, scraping up all the crispy bits left in the pan. Sprinkle with the sesame and spice mixture, and scatter with coriander, dill and mint leaves to serve

Saudi allows women to drive trucks and motorcycles


I have a memory of a picture showing a fully covered lady on a skateboard with the caption
To busy being awesome to be repressed…

And not so long ago a picture of woman wake boarding behind a 4×4
What many don’t seem or are interested to realise that SAUDI woman do drive Just about anywhere other than their own country until now
They study abroad family members have worked abroad
As do most of us

Imagine fully abayaed ladies on motorbikes or drivIng trucks

Saudi allows women to drive trucks and motorcycles
Naser Al Wasmi

December 17, 2017
Updated: December 17, 2017 07:23 PM

Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from June 2018 in a historic decision as part of the ambitious reforms taking place in the kingdom. Fayez Nuereldine / AFP
Saudi Arabia will allow women to drive from June 2018 in a historic decision as part of the ambitious reforms taking place in the kingdom. Fayez Nuereldine / AFP
Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to operate commercial vehicles, drive trucks and ride motorcycles on the kingdom’s roads next summer, according to authorities in Riyadh.

Months after the historic decision to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia, the traffic department issued new details on the law expected to come into effect next year, said the state-run Saudi Press Agency (Spa).

Weeks after the announcement, some feared the move would be implemented with strict female-specific laws placing conditions on issuing licences to women in Saudi Arabia.

However, the new regulations, which refer to women “as equal” to male drivers, dispel fears that licences for women will be any different to those for men.

The new regulations also state that GCC-issued licenses could be swapped for Saudi Arabian driving permits, though the details on whether this will apply to expatriate women is still unknown.

The General Authority said there will be no female-specific licence plate numbers, but that traffic violations committed by women will be dealt with by a special police unit.

Three months ago, King Salman issued a royal decree stipulating that women will be allowed to drive as of June next year. The announcement set off a wave of ambitious reforms spearheaded by the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The move to allow women to drive has been welcomed by many in Saudi Arabia, where strict regulations on women have been easing in recent years. Authorities mentioned that involving women in the kingdom’s Vision 2030 will likely be a crucial step as the oil-rich state begins to diversify its economy.

Ahead of June next year, the Saudi federal authority of transport has contracted institutions around the country, including the King Abdulaziz University, to provide women with driving lessons that are needed for some of those applying for a driver’s licence in the country.

As millions of women begin to take to Saudi Arabia’s roads, the public authority expects that up to a million foreign workers will be made obsolete as a young female population that was previously reliant on drivers to get around look to drive themselves.

Many women may still choose to employ drivers, however.

Meanwhile, women looking to apply for commercial licences for driving will be asked to go through the same procedures as men, Spa said.

TICKING a box is not enough Right person right time and place

Interesting piece by Hessa Al Ghurair

It is indeed not just about ticking a box
And its not only the private sector that does this. It is also the government
Right person, right job, right place and right time are critical for individual, company and community success

If we don’t grow people to their potential then what are we doing
Having people in a place where they just survive or hibernate is not adding value or providing role models.
The use of psychometric has got out of hand and is manipulated to certain people in all places
It is not personality we recruit for it is behaviours
And behaviour’s can not be changed but we can learn how to harness them to the betterment of all

2018 year of behaviour’s over personality…….

It is not enough to just ‘tick the box’ when it comes to Emiratisation
Organisations need to create a culture of growth for Emiratis, writes Hessa Al Ghurair

Hessa Al Ghurair

December 12, 2017

Updated: December 12, 2017 06:38 PM
A group of young Emirati women attend a careers fair in Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
A group of young Emirati women attend a careers fair in Dubai. Reem Mohammed / The National
Earlier this month we celebrated the UAE’s 46th National Day. There is so much that we can be proud of as a country. As chief human resource officer of one of the UAE’s banks, I am particularly proud of the role played by our nation’s leaders in nurturing and supporting such a hardworking and talented Emirati workforce.

They have always recognised that young people are our future. They have the potential to be global citizens who help companies to shape societies and economies by bringing fresh and compassionate points of view, ideas, vigour and passion to the table.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has prioritised building a knowledge-based economy by empowering the national workforce. In 2014, he launched a seven-year nationalisation plan as part of the UAE Vision 2021, which aims to develop the skills of Emiratis and fill senior-level positions with local talent. This is being done through a points system that ranks and rewards performance across key areas, including employing women, supporting education and training, and encouraging flexible working conditions.

This sends a strong message to all industries that it is not enough to just “tick the box” when it comes to Emiratisation. Organisations need to create a culture of growth for Emiratis by taking a long-term view and building integrated and holistic Emiratisation programmes.

Yet Emiratis continue to be under-represented in the private sector. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation found that 38 per cent of Emirati jobseekers felt private sector salaries weren’t competitive enough and that 33 per cent refused a position due to geographical location.

To fix this, the private sector needs to ensure that nationals can gain access to entry-level positions and access the tools needed to build their capabilities, so that they can move on to positions with greater leadership and responsibility. Companies must invest in human capital through supportive infrastructure, personal mentoring, and the development of succession plans for national talent. And they must partner with the public sector and educational institutions so that market needs, industry trends and curriculum can interlink.

My sector, banking, remains an attractive career path for Emiratis, who find it stable, attractive and flexible. Since December last year, the broader financial services sector achieved Emiratisation levels of 20 to 45 per cent. I am proud to say that Commercial Bank International achieved 330 Emiratisation points in September 2017, exceeding the Central Bank target of 208 points by December 2017.

Helping a UAE bank to achieve this has been one of my biggest career achievements to date.

I have the Mother of the Nation, Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, to thank for much of my career success. She has been my main role model and a true source of inspiration to me throughout my working life, as she has been for so many other Emirati women.

By positioning the female agenda firmly at the centre of government prioritisation, she has set the foundation for women’s empowerment in the UAE and inspired thousands of other women to each play a role in this progress.

The UAE now sets an example for many countries in the Middle East and across the rest of the world. In 2012, we became the first country in the Arab region and the second country in the world to introduce a mandatory female presence in the boardroom. In February 2015, the UAE formed a Gender Balance Council to oversee government efforts to ensure gender balance and one year later, eight new federal ministerial appointments were announced, five of which were Emirati women.

To continue this powerful momentum in both the public and private sector, we need to prepare women for leadership positions by creating opportunities and developing skills through training and mentorship.

Understanding my professional potential was one of my biggest barriers early on in my career, as I did not have the confidence to take a seat at the table and make my goals known. My mentor at the time motivated me to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I quickly realised that I was limiting my possibilities before. Through self-assessment and feedback from others, I continued to make my career objectives known, and was able to overcome my barriers.

My advice to young Emiratis, male or female, looking to enter the private sector, is to surround yourself with brilliant leaders and learn from their examples. Ensure that you have a formal or informal mentor or coach; their network, advice and resources will be invaluable to your growth early in your career. And say yes to as many things you can. This is the only way to expand your horizon and deepen your business knowledge.

​​Hessa Al Ghurair is chief human resources officer of CBI

circles and nourishment

his is a fascinating article
The whole idea of KARMA and life going in cycle and devouring ourselves or animals devouring themselves
Well worth the read and check out the pictures as well for detail and generational relationships and ideas of the times

Check the link for the images

It is perhaps fitting that the ancient ouroboros marks the beginning – and end – of Never Ending Stories, a major exhibition currently showing at Germany’s Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Spanning multiple mediums, time periods, and fields, the exhibition explores the concept of the loop on a hitherto unseen scale. “The loop is very telling for our times,” says curator Ralf Beil, “and the concept of the loop has never been presented in a larger consideration of time and space.” Organised into 14 thematic sections, Never Ending Stories looks at loops in not only religion and philosophy, but also modern and contemporary art, film, music and literature.
(Credit: LIMA, Amsterdam)
For Breathing In Breathing Out (1977), Marina Abramović and Ulay blocked their nostrils with cigarette filters and pressed their mouths together (Credit: LIMA, Amsterdam)
And the ouroboros is one of the most compelling, a symbol that has been the subject of awe and wonder for millennia. Literally meaning ‘tail-devourer’ in Greek, it has appeared in numerous forms in a wide array of contexts and geographies. In its original and most common variation, it depicts a snake eating its own tail in a closed circle. The ouroboros, however, isn’t Greek, and certainly isn’t a celebration of self-cannibalism. What, then, are its origins, and what does it signify?
Here comes the sun
The oldest-known ouroboros appeared on a golden shrine in the tomb of Tutankhamen – ‘King Tut’ – in Egypt in the 13th Century BC, after a brief lull in traditional religion brought about by his predecessor, Akhenaten. According to leading Egyptologist Jan Assmann, the symbol “refers to the mystery of cyclical time, which flows back into itself”. The ancient Egyptians understood time as a series of repetitive cycles, instead of something linear and constantly evolving; and central to this idea was the flooding of the Nile and the journey of the sun.
(Credit: Zentralbibliothek Zürich)
Aurora Consurgens, a 15th-Century alchemical manuscript, features the ouroboros, linked with the symbols of the sun, moon, and mercury (Credit: Zentralbibliothek Zürich)
The flooding of the Nile in summer marked the beginning of the year, and served as a metaphor of cyclical time, flowing “back into itself like a circle … [enabling] renewal, repetition, and regeneration,” as Assmann says. Similarly, the sun was believed to be the source of cyclical time, undertaking a nightly journey to the waters of Nun (a sort of primordial void), fraught with all sorts of obstacles, whence it would find its way back to the sky. As such, the ouroboros in its original Egyptian context symbolised repetition, renewal, and the eternal cycle of time.
Known as the oldest allegorical symbol in alchemy, the ouroboros represented the concept of eternity and endless return
Like the sun, the ouroboros underwent a journey of its own. From Egypt, it found its way to the Greek alchemists of Hellenistic Alexandria. In the Chrysopoeia (transmutation into gold) of Cleopatra, the ouroboros appears slightly differently. A pictorial alchemical papyrus from the 3rd-Century AD, it dealt with the creation of gold, and the ouroboros appears among the mysterious symbols and images encircling the Greek words ‘One is All’.
Known as the oldest allegorical symbol in alchemy, the ouroboros in this context represented the concept of eternity and endless return, as well as the unity of time’s beginning and end, rather than the Egypt-specific journeys of the sun and the Nile. Elsewhere on the papyrus, in a double ring, appears the complete maxim, of which ‘One is All’ is only a part: ‘One is All, and by it All, and for it All’, it reads, ‘and if it does not contain All, then All is Nothing’.
(Credit: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)
The ouroboros appears in the classic alchemical study, Atalanta Fugiens (1617), by the physician to Emperor Rudolf II, Michael Maier (Credit: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)
The ouroboros was also of significance to the Gnostics. From a Gnostic viewpoint, the opposing ends of the ouroboros were interpreted as the divine and earthly in man, which, despite being at odds with one another, existed in unison nonetheless. In this sense, it is comparable to the Chinese yin and yang, depicting the harmony of contrary forces, as well as the cosmic dichotomy of light and darkness in Manichaeism and the Zoroastrian philosophy of the farvahar, which first posited that each soul was composed of a pure, divine component, as well as a human one.
The ouroboros also appears in other ancient traditions. In Norse mythology, the serpent Jörmungandr encircles the world with its tail in its mouth, while in Hinduism, the ouroboros forms part of the foundation upon which the Earth rests. In the more widespread Roman variant of Iranian Mithraism, Zurvan, symbolising ‘boundless time’, is depicted with an ouroboros entwined around his body, while the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl is often seen in the form of an ouroboros.
(Credit: Alamy)
The ouroboros is part of Hindu iconography, as in this drawing of a tortoise supporting elephants upon which the Earth rests, enclosed by the serpent, Asootee (Credit: Alamy)
As if this weren’t enough, the ouroboros went on to enjoy much popularity among Renaissance alchemists. Again representing the infinite nature of time and the eternal, it was seen in the eyes of the alchemists as the ultimate obstacle to be overcome in the Magnum Opus, their incessant struggle; for to become immortal – their chief aim – meant to break the incessant cycle of the ouroboros once and for all. That they would also come to possess, through their experiments, the prized ‘philosopher’s stone’ that would bring them all the bling in the world, was mere icing on the cake.
Around and around
Never Ending Stories begins and ends with the ouroboros because it is a symbol that has resonated throughout so many different eras. “Its fascination derives from the archaic preciseness of the image,” explains Beil, “instantly understandable by every culture, and thus used by a majority of them for two-thousand years”. The exhibition looks at other ways in which the loop has been represented, creating a multi-sensory experience with myriad elements – visual, aural, and physical – repeating ad infinitum.
(Credit: Bridget Riley)
Other loops in Never Ending Stories include hypnotic works like Blaze 4 (1964) by Bridget Riley, which mesmerises with its optical effects (Credit: Bridget Riley)
Beil has placed the loops on display into five categories: continuous circles and squares (like the ouroboros); Möbius strips; infinite cycles produced by the Droste Effect (or, as André Gide called it, mise en abyme); Penrose stairs, never-ending staircases partly inspired by the works of MC Escher (and which, in turn, inspired the works of Escher); and permanent, identical loops of all kinds, irrespective of their elements.
Aside from delving into the nature of loops and their various forms, the exhibition highlights their ubiquity in esoteric and historical, as well as more popular contexts. Take, for instance, the well-known Greek myth of Sisyphus, forever condemned to roll a boulder up a hill in Tartarus, which rolls back down again before it can surpass it. Or, Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “Behold, we know what you teach,” says the author to his protagonist (the antithesis, in fact, of the historical Iranian prophet), “that all things occur eternally and we ourselves along with them, and that we have already been here times eternal and all things along with us.”
(Credit: 2017 The MC Escher Company – The Netherlands)
Works by MC Escher, such as Drawing Hands (1948), contain visual paradoxes, creating spirals that have no end and no beginning (Credit: 2017 The MC Escher Company)
In the same setting can be seen the drawings of Escher, Yayoi Kusama’s glittering Infinity Mirrored Roominstallation – “a trance-like, four-by-four-metre infinity of light: a highly cyclical eternity”, according to Beil – Marcel Duchamp’s spiralling Rotoreliefs from the 30s and 60s and architectural proposals by Le Corbusier, while songs like Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn form part of the soundtrack.
From the ancient Egyptian journey of the sun to Donna Summer, the loop – so often represented by the ouroboros – has been inextricably bound to our concept of time. The Renaissance-era alchemists saw the ouroboros as something to break out of in pursuit of a linear, rather than cyclical, eternity – and today, it might make us reconsider how we view each moment that passes.


Great work by HH Sheik Hamdan yesterday
BUT this is everyday
AND it is not just about volunteering you should be taking care of yourself, others and the environment everyday
Our survival depends on it
OUr children’s future depends on it as well as animals, sea life, flora and fauna
Put your own oxygen mask on first then assist others and your space
For those who may have missed ti NATIONAL item

Dubai Crown Prince spends day cleaning seabed of rubbish
Sheikh Hamdan sets example of Dubai called UAE residents to adopt environmentally-friendly practices

Caline Malek
Caline Malek
December 5, 2017
Updated: December 5, 2017 05:37 PM

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid, Crown Prince of Dubai, leads volunteers into the water in a marine-clean up drive. Courtesy: WAM
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid, Crown Prince of Dubai, leads volunteers into the water in a marine-clean up drive. Courtesy: WAM
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, spent the day, picking rubbish from the seabed during a dive off the Marina as he sought to deliver a message to protect the environment.

“I heard you. Thank you for your incredible contributions. After careful consideration, I have chosen to dedicate my day to cleaning the sea,” he said.

He had earlier asked social media followers how he should spend International Volunteer Day, and received 6,000 ideas in six days.

“Making a difference to the environment starts with the small changes we make in our everyday lives.”

The ideas were meant to inspire and encourage others to follow suit.

Those who suggested the initiative were also invited to accompany Sheikh Hamdan on his quest.

Sheikh Hamdan expressed his delight in children’s participation, namely Mohammad and Saeed Subaih Al Falasi, and Abdullah Ahmad AlMarri, as well as more than 25 diving experts of different ages and nationalities.

“I was delighted to have received the suggestion of diving and cleaning the marine environment from the Emirati child Rashed Marwan AlMarri and Indian child Hanan Mohammed Ali – both who are not older than 12,” he said.

“This is a testament to our children’s awareness of the importance of preserving marine environment and ensuring that future generations get to enjoy a healthy and clean environment in the years to come. Our city is our home and we are all responsible for its cleanliness and for sustaining its resources.

“The activity conducted today not only raises awareness about the importance of preserving the environment but also effectively marries our vision for environmental volunteering and the country’s efforts in this space,” he added.

“There’s a clear correlation between environmental preservation and volunteer work, in large part because the environment affects all aspects of a community and those in it.

“We have developed rules, strategic plans and programmes that support the preserving of the environment and our natural resources – all in support of the government’s larger vision of investing in people and achieving a happy and healthy community.

“Volunteer work is one of the most important means for advancement in society and its success depends on various factors – most importantly, a driven population that believes in volunteer work and its positive impact on society.”

legacy –

this is a very powerful piece about legacy and how life is portrayed and lived
What starts idealistically so often becomes derailed and distorted from the original vision

Mugabe and me: A personal history of growing up in Zimbabwe
25 November 2017
From the section Africa Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with Messenger Share this with Email Share
Young Rhodesian boys pose behind a fence in January 1977 in Salisbury, Rhodesia and formerly the capital of Zimbabwe. The Rhodesian government and the black nationalists face a long guerilla which led to an agreement and a multiracial new Assembly in 1978. In 1980, British government proclaimed the independence of South Rhodesia, becoming Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe is appointed Prime minister.Image copyrightAFP
Image caption
Robert Mugabe is seen as the father of the nation – Zimbabweans aged 37 or younger have known no other leader
As Zimbabweans usher in a new era, author Petina Gappah considers the long shadow ex-president Robert Mugabe has cast over her life.
Through the crackling static of the transmission came frenetic drumbeats. Then an announcer’s voice, speaking emphatically, with dramatic pauses before every word. “This Is The Voice Of Zimbabwe.” Then the song that all the township children came to know so well, the closest we would get to war:
“Kune nzira dzamasoja dzekuzvibatanadzo. Tererai mitemo yose nenzira dzakanaka.”
I remember vividly the last two years of Rhodesia’s war. As children repeating that song in the school playground, we did not know that it was an adaptation of Mao Zedong’s Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention.
“Be honest in buying and selling, return everything you borrow, pay compensation for everything you damage, do not hit or swear at others, do not damage crops, do not harass women and do not mistreat prisoners.”
These principles, translated into the Shona language and set in song, were the code of conduct for the struggle for independent rule in Rhodesia.
‘His voice was rich and beautiful’
I was eight when the war ended. It was far from our family in the township of Glen Norah in Salisbury, but the war came to us every night as my father Tererayi Mureri fiddled with our radio receiver to catch the shortwave transmission from Radio Mozambique.
I was with my mother Simbiso when the news reached us that guerrilla leader Josiah Tongogara had died. Her grieving shock was so penetrating that in my confusion, I thought we had lost a relative.
A nationalist Rhodesian fighter trains May 05, 1975 in the South of Rhodesia. The Rhodesian government and the black nationalists face a long guerrilla which led to an agreement and a multiracial new Assembly in 1978. In 1980, British government proclaimed the independence of South Rhodesia, becoming Zimbabwe.Image copyrightAFP
Image caption
‘At school the independence war was cast as a heroic struggle’
It was through this transmission that Robert Mugabe came into my life, and entered my imagination as the embodiment of the struggle.
His voice was rich and beautiful. I would later come to understand that what made his voice so unusual was that it was essentially manufactured, carrying almost no trace of his education or ethnic background.
I did not understand everything he said, but I remember that he called us always the people, not of Rhodesia, but Zimbabwe. This reminder, that this was a battle for a new country, and a new way to be in the world, was emphasised by the words that concluded each broadcast, “People of Zimbabwe, Victory Is Certain.”
Hero worship
Victory finally came after a ceasefire that ended the war and negotiations in London to chart the path for the new country.
After the elections in March 1980, I sat with my parents and younger siblings as Mugabe addressed us again, this time on television as prime minister of our new country.

Media captionMugabe: From war hero to resignation
There was that voice again, but with an image to go with it, not of a fearsome gorilla, which is how I heard the word guerrilla, but of a man in large glasses who wore a safari suit like my father’s.
I found him reassuringly normal. Surely, he said, this is the time to beat our swords into ploughshares. We should become Zimbabweans with a single loyalty, to our nation, and to a common interest.
That year, we moved house. In my simplified understanding of the world then, I thought it was purely thanks to Mugabe that my parents were able to buy a new house in a former whites-only suburb that had a library with more books than I could have dreamt of. In my mind, I associated Mugabe with these riches.
I learned more about Mugabe the guerrilla in history lessons at secondary school.
Robert Mugabe in London during talks on Rhodesia in September 1979Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image caption
“Seeing him on television for the first time I noticed he wore a safari suit like my father’s”
Our O-Level class of 1988 was the first to study under the new curriculum. So we learned that the history of all society is the history of class struggle. The independence war was re-cast as a heroic, historically inevitable struggle between the black socialist majority and white minority capitalism.
I pored over the black and white pictures of Mugabe and other independence leaders. I fell in love with African history.
By the time I went to the University of Zimbabwe to study law, I was a budding Marxist-Leninist. My feelings for Mugabe were approaching hero worship.
Then came a shift.
Political awakening
In my first year, I attended the ceremony for that year’s graduating class with a friend, Chris Giwa who was head of the student council.
As we walked to the university’s Great Hall, another student, Eric Mvududu, approached President Mugabe with a petition. Mugabe’s security men stopped him and roughed him up, tearing his shirt and bruising him. Mugabe walked on.
In the Great Hall, he tapped the heads of students as they knelt before him. Then came Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the previous year’s council, who had led demonstrations against government corruption. As he approached the president, a great cheer went up. Mugabe rose from his seat and pumped Mutambara’s hand. The Great Hall roared.
Afterwards, in Chris’s room in New Hall, I sat with Mutambara (who years later became an opposition politician), the now recovered Mvududu and other friends and listened to them talk. It was the start of my political awakening.
By the end of the academic year, I had studied constitutional law, and learned, through case law on illegal detentions, that all the time I had been gulping down books as a child in the library, a state of emergency had been in place in Matabeleland, and that region had been the theatre of mass killings by the army’s Fifth Brigade.
Burning house in Matabeleland
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The army was accused of atrocities in Matabeleland
By the time I came face to face with Mugabe at my own graduation four years later, I was no longer a believer.
Gone was the hero worship, but still left was deep and conflicted respect. As the Dean read out my achievements and I knelt before him to be capped, I looked into the face of my president. In that voice, the voice I had first heard in our township house when Zimbabwe was just a dream, Mugabe said to me, “Congratulations, well done.”
The author with friends on graduation day at the University of Cambridge in the UKImage copyrightPETINA GAPPAH
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After her studies in Zimbabwe the author (second from right) went on to postgraduate study in Britain at the University of Cambridge
The last 17 years saw me count myself among his opponents as he waged another war, this time against the country he had promised.
We could not count all the bodies after that terrible war of liberation, but those that we could, we gave funeral rites and buried in places of honour. But how do you count the bodies of those who died in the war Mugabe waged against his own people?
Dark shadow
People like Mrs Nleya, a teacher I loved, who was trained in England and returned to Zimbabwe at the promise of independence, but died when the one oncologist in her city closed his practice, and moved to Botswana.
Or the many who died of conditions easily cured but for the shortage of drugs.
Or the border jumpers, almost all of whom were born after 1980, the Born Frees who drowned in the Limpopo on their way to South Africa, and hope.
The companies small and large, built up over years of hard work that collapsed under the weight of inflation. The livelihoods flushed away, the lost opportunities, the cheated dreams.
JULY 4th 2007: Zimbabwean shoppers walk past empty shelves in Mabvuku, Harare, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s government ordered shop owners to reduce prices on all goods by 50% which has resulted in an acute shortage of most basic commodities. President Robert Mugabe has accused businesses of profiteering and working in cahoots with the country’s enemies to incite people to revolt against his government.Image copyrightAFP
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Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed under Mr Mugabe
Was it all so that one man could rule until his death, so that he could, as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said so poignantly, destroy not only what he had inherited, but also what he had built himself?
Thirty-seven years after he promised that we would all build a Great Zimbabwe – but did everything he could to destroy it – Mugabe has left the stage.
No single person has influenced the direction of my life as much as he has.
To his government, I owe an education equal to that of anyone I have met, from anywhere in the world.
Both as a writer and critic, and as a lawyer, my work has been an attempt to shine some light in the dark shadow that he cast over my country.
And while I will always honour his place in history, there is not much I would not have given to be able to say back to him his only words to me, “Congratulations, well done,” but this time, about his own legacy.