The title of my story is taken from ‘Little Gidding’ in T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. I have borrowed its significance and altered it slightly to suit my own purpose: that of likening the growth of Miami, Karoi and Tengwe to that of a rose, which takes its time to bud and blossom to full beauty, only to fade and die after a fairly short time.
The story starts with a fleeting glance at pre-colonial times, and then goes on to explore in greater depth the steady growth and ultimate decline of a small but vibrant community – a life span of a mere one hundred years, roughly from 1896 to 1998.
It is the story of three small settlements that sprang up miles apart within the large area of the Urungwe, to the north of Rhodesia, which later became Zimbabwe. In their heyday, all three played an important part in the growth and development of our country, contributing towards a large slice of the economy.
The writing of this story would probably never have seemed so important or necessary had it not been for two occurrences. The first was independence in 1980, which set the stage for the second that happened nearly thirty years later – the infamous ‘farm invasions’, when farms that had been lovingly developed and nurtured, often by generations of the same family, were violently wrested from their owners.
This campaign brought about a massive diaspora, certainly not the first in history, but those who lost everything without compensation were scattered around the world, to any country that would take them in. A community, like the rose, withered and died, and a way of life became extinct.
The idea behind my writing this book was not to harp on about this issue, or to wallow in self-pity, but to preserve the memory of this short time of the blossoming of Miami, Karoi and Tengwe for our children and grandchildren. Many have now become fully fledged citizens of other countries and, as time flows by, they will forget where their roots were and why it is that they are no longer in the country of their forebears.
As you travel through the past and read the reminiscences of many ‘old-timers’, I hope I will have given you a taste, a flavour, of what life was like in those ‘good old days’ of pioneering.