Weathering the Storm

It’s a typical African Christmas. Days are filled with long sessions in the swimming pool – interrupted by short and dramatic thunder storms or by mum calling the kids in for lunch. A chorus of Christmas beetles plays in the background, momentarily silenced by the crack of an ice cold beer. Laughter and storytelling between friends and family, the exhausted cry of a toddler – still determined to play, the smoky aroma of boerewors and steak wafting through the air and the women sipping on wine while rustling up spectacular Summer salads – these are all snippets of my typical African Christmas.

Christmas tree                 farm drive way

But while all this has happened and we’ve had a wonderful Christmas in Zimbabwe with New Year eagerly marching forward – the winds of change are blowing.

African Storms           Stormy skies ii

On the 6th of December, we received a phone call.

It went something like this, “I have a contract on your family. I know where you live, I know your family and I know where your children go to school. I will phone you back in 20 minutes to tell you what I require and I hope you will be responsible.”

The caller wanted 1 billion Mozambican metical’s – the equivalent of 33 million US dollars! He made reference to a horrific kidnapping that happened near Beira a couple months ago and he threatened us with our lives.
We were the first victims of many black mail attempts by the same syndicate in our area.

For those of you who are not familiar with the current affairs in Mozambique, there have been over 64 ransom related kidnapping cases in the country since 2011. All of them have involved wealthy Mozambican citizens or residents – and none of them have involved tourists.

While there is evidence that the syndicate who called us is a group of criminals jumping on the kidnapping band wagon – it poses a family some serious questions.

Not wanting to get into too much detail now, this experience has been somewhat surreal! No-one expects to receive a call like that! And my heart goes out to the families in Mozambique who have been threatened in the same way and in many cases, their loved ones kidnapped.

Christmas has come and gone. There have been pantomimes, Christmas crackers, clove-studded hams and turkeys, brandy-laced desserts, gifts and Christmas carols – but always, in the back of our mind, is the inevitable question: What next?

I have absolutely no idea!

Walking to the top         View from Dombashava ii

But regardless of what has happened and the uncertainty we are feeling right now, there is one thing that I am certain of : THE FUTURE IS OURS!

Here is to 2014, whatever it may hold…

“What appears to be the end may really be a new beginning.”

  Storm over Domboshava, Zimbabwe

Views of Zimbabwe            Natural Steps

Streams carved in rock           Balancing rocks

Stormy African skies          Stormscape

The Gallery

34 replies »

    • Thank you so much Aysha for thinking of me for this award and for the support! As for the gang – we can only hope they catch them! They are still in full swing however!

  1. OH Wow Lianne – how aweful for you and the family – so glad you have a refuge in Zims! Take care, and know there are folk who are praying for you and your protection in 2014. Your photographs are amazing as usual!! Well done x x xLyn and JP

    • Thank you Andy and I hope 2014 is a cracker for you! Looking forward to another year of your spectacular photography which has given me much insight into cultural Africa 🙂

  2. Thoughts are with you and your family. Hopefully the bastards get their come-uppences before they can do any more damage. Thanks for your special posts. Take care and wishing you peace and prosperity for 2014.

    • Me too!!! Mozambique has recently extended their prison sentences for kidnapping – but whether this will deter these criminals, I can only hope. But at least, if they get caught, rest assured these thugs will get to experience a good number of years in Mozambique’s equivalent of hell – prison!

    • It was indeed – my heart froze. It seems there are few gangs operating in Mozambique with a web of connections all over the country. There have been some horrific stories emerging and Mozambicans, especially some of the Asian communities, have been forced to flee the country or are living under siege with the threat of kidnapping hanging over their heads.

    • That is a shame. I have met many people who’ve traveled to Mozambique and loved it, and things like this can only hold down the entire society as it tries to move forward. Hopefully the gang can be stopped.

      Do you get the sense that the local authorities are serious about stopping them?

    • Thank you Bart, we’re absolutely putting family first 🙂 Just crying a bit for Mozambique right now – it’s a country in turmoil! Wishing you all the best for 2014 and I’m looking forward to another year of awesome, heart felt poetry!

  3. So much beauty in nature and yet so much ugliness among humans. The anxiety you and your family must be experiencing over this threat is not anything one wishes to ever experience. I hope it’s an empty threat… still, you can’t ignore it. I am sure you will institute more security measures (just don’t put them on your blog, as nothing is private here)…. may you be safe.

    • Thank you – safety is our number one priority. The problem with a threat like this is that because it involves family we have no choice but to take it very seriously. There have been a large number of families in our area who have received the same threats – and I hear the police are making progress. Hoping the problem is resolved quickly, nevertheless this experience has changed a lot for us regarding our future in Mozambique.

  4. Leanne: It’s a sad awakening that some put their own twisted agendas above the richness of what humanity can offer. I can’t even imagine how you will deal with this veil of uncertainty. Only you and your family can weigh and decide. Most such threats are probably baseless….but only you can decide.
    Your pictures and stories have been inspirational over the past year or so that I’ve followed, and I hope that is to continue and you adequately resolve the unspeakable threat. With that, I can only say Thanks for the posts, and sincerely wish for you and yours a good, and Happy Year. Marty

    • Thank you Marty 🙂 I am really hoping they catch this group soon as they have been causing chaos in our area. As for the comments on my blog, thank you so much. What ever may be – the blog will continue! I feel like I am only just getting started 🙂 Thank you for your support and may you and your family have a cracking 2014!