Zimbabwe: Letters written by Michelle Clarke (1992 arrival: April 1993 computer arrived so hence the letters are recorded)

April 2017

I have just read an article about a Jockey who has written a book.  He could not recall anything about his career as a jockey and with the help of a friend he has re-traced his steps through media coverage to arrive at that hidden space called memory.

Traumatic brain injury is often referred to as a silent epidemic but in my case there is an irony.  I could take notes, write diaries, write letters and tended to do so both before and after the horse riding accident that left me living a kind of groundhog day.  Childhood memories are prominent but yesterday – that is a different story.  20 years on I feel I am improving or more importantly that my memory is improving.  Like this Jockey, I am to explore what I have written and try and up-date it to WordPress.com

Technology replaced diaries but when I first arrived in Harare, the ship carrying our belongings and most importantly my computer (and this was back in 1992/1993 had not arrived).  For six months I lived in a house with a swimming pool, a maid, a gardener, in the suburbs of Harare where people did not mingle locally without any of our personal belongings and most importantly without the computer I received from Prudential Bache, The City in 1992.

I have hand written notes of my first impressions but they are just gathering dust and someday I will read them. Thanks to people with computer knowledge who I have met throughout the years I actually have copies of the letters I wrote to family and friends in those years in Zimbabwe from 1992 to 1995.  People who keep diaries are more likely to retain data than people who have used computer technology over the last two decades so I am sharing my views of being an expat in Zimbabwe from 1992.  These letters are not edited.  I may do so at a later stage.


18 Cheshire Road,



20th April 1993


Dear Noel, Tessie, and Noetah

It was great to receive your recent letter and hear that all is well for you
over in the UK. The recession must surely be approaching its end at this
stage so let’s hope there are no more casualties on the employment side. A
good friend of mine had a similar experience to ours of January 1992 and when
they arrived back from their holiday in Ireland at Christmas, there was a
letter in the post for her husband making him redundant. Luckily, she has
a good job so the impact was not too drastic. However, she found out she is
expecting twins in July so all one can do is hope that Pat finds something
suitable in the meantime.

It must be so unpleasant for you at present in England with the bombing
campaign by the IRA. It is such a pity that these criminals cannot be caught
and sentenced to long terms in prison. It is so unfair on all those Irish
people who have no alternative but to work in England. What I so much object
to about the IRA’s campaign is that they indiscriminately kill those who
happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let’s hope they are
caught and there is an end to this terrorist violence.

Shane is keeping well. Conor seems to be a thriving little boy who at 6
months fits into clothes for children aged one year and over. He will be a
well traveled little boy as Mella is taking him to Portugal in May with her
sisters and he comes to Zimbabwe on July 26th. It is nice when parents are
young and energetic!!! I can’t imagine being able to do likewise. Mella is
a good correspondent. She starts the letter and leaves a line or two at the
end which Shane fills in. Mum was out with Marie last week. They went for
coffee at the Swan Centre. Apparently Marie is having all kinds of work done
at Lavarna Grove. She is having double glazed windows installed. That will
make it nice and cosy for her.

The news still appears dismal in the building industry in England. No light
yet at the end of the tunnel. Harare, Zimbabwe is the beneficiary of much aid from the
IMF and World Bank which means that there are large developments being built
here at present. Joe’s present contract is a 17 storey office block for the
Post Office Savings Bank, it is due for completion in August. Then the plan
is that he will move to Eastgate which is to be the largest office/retail
development in Zimbabwe. It is a joint venture between Costain and John Sisk
Pvt. Ltd. It started about 2 months ago but initial management is being
dealt with by the Costain part of the venture.  However, it is hard to see that the momentum in the building industry here will be sustained. Funds from the IMF and World Bank will not last forever and will have to be repaid so we envisage that at the end of two years, work will have substantially dried up here so it will be back to the UK in time for the next boom, hopefully.

John Sisk are very well established in Zimbabwe, they are one of
the four largest contractors here so have a large % of the work. They are now looking to Mozambique. The war of 15 years is now ended and apparently vast quantities of funds are to be invested by the IMF and World Bank to re-build this war torn country. I read recently that there are some 2 million landmines yet to be exploded.There are no schools in existence and the infra-structure is completely destroyed. Apparently it was a rather beautiful country when occupied by the Portuguese. It borders Zimbabwe but unlike Zimbabwe which is landlocked, it has the benefit of the Indian Ocean.
It was a great holiday resort for those from South Africa in past times. They are now
trying to again capture this holiday market. Sisk’s are seeking work there.

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