The Best And The Worst of Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai brought out the best in Zimbabweans this last week. Miracle Missions in Harare were huge and loaded up 36 trucks of relief aid donated by the people of Harare. And that same story is playing out in other towns and cities across Zimbabwe. People with so little have given so much. The stand out for me in a long week full of stand outs was the little Ambuya who walked 17 km from Mbare to Highlands because she didn’t have bus fare to drop off her sack full of pots for the poor people of Manicaland.

Unfortunately Idai also brought out the worst in some. Ed was late in arriving for the disaster having gone to Abu Dhabi and left early by rented Airbus for quick trips to Angola, Bulawayo and South Africa. His sofa got priority over emergency supplies-aid distribution was delayed by a day so he could photo bomb the handover. And now we’re hearing that you need a party card to get to the front of the food queue. Against the backdrop of of 5 million Zimbabweans needing food in the months to come, God help Zimbabwe ‘cos chances are Ed won’t.

When I was a kid, my friend went to America on a Rotary Student exchange scheme and we got an American kid in his place. My friend learned peanut butter and jelly and the American kid learned sadza. My guy came back having learned lots and taught even more. The swap was a good thing and made the world a smaller place.

Accordingly I’d like to suggest a leadership swap with maybe New Zealand – as in we get Jacinda and the Kiwis get Ed. Jacinda so impressed with her handling of the Christchurch mosque massacres. She healed her country’s hurt with love and empathy, she acted decisively to deny the gunman the notoriety he craved and in just one week banned semi automatic weapons so it doesn’t happen again.

With more stormy weather heading Zim’s way, most of it man made, we sure could do with someone up top who can spell empathy. I appreciate that the swap might be a bit of hard sell in New Zealand but our man is good. He plays a good game of golf in a cyclone, as mentioned moves with his own sofa and in very, very nice airplanes and he has a fetching gap in his front teeth. And not to mention Zimbabwean leaders are long lasting and durable, we got 38 years out of the the last one which can only save a country a fortune in buisness cards and office door plaques.

It all makes a man want to get on his bicycle and ride somewhere far away. Speaking of which,we’ve got our big training ride this weekend -280 kms over 2 days from Harare to Mount Darwin and onto Mavuradona with 3000 meters of climb in October like heat – it should be interesting. Al Rheeder is coming up from Joburg to ride with us for the first time to help test legs and logistics. We’ll put our shiny new gas showers to the test plus the new improved 10 bike trailer complete with luggage compartment big enough for 16 big bits of luggage. And on the other side of the world, so as not to feel left out, Mark Johnson is going to replicate our ride in Australia.

Huge thanks to Mark Strides in RSA for donating a bike maintenance and cleaning stand, to J Mann and Company for inputs for the trailer and to Brian and Shawn from Steel Warehouse for helping yet again with inputs for the trailer. Steel Warehouse gives and gives and gives like my hero Gogo from Mbare.

Elsewhere the City of Harare announced they were suspending their plans to ration water because they’ve run out of water, Donald’s not a Russian and Brexit is definitely on, possibly, sort of, unless it isn’t. Better to laugh than cry.

I’m happy to introduce Old Legs Team member Gayle Arnold, ex- Masvingo, ex -Chinoyi, and now living in Ascot in the UK since 2003. Gayle is excited about the forthcoming Old Legs adventure. And how cool is this? Gayle’s daughter Kiera will meet the Team in Arusha and will walk up the mountain with us.

If you would like to help Zimbabwe’s pensioners go to and follow the prompts. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their Ecocash merchant number 139149. Monies donated help pensioners country wide.

In closing, this week’s Swahili 101

Hey wewe Porter- kuweka kitanda yangu juu huko!! Hey you porter – put my sofa over there!!

Mungu baraka Gogo- asante, asante, asante!! – God bless Gogo, Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Until next blog, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

On the left Old Legs Team member Gayle Arnold and in the right my best ever Gogo from Mbare who gave us lessons in giving.

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