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.
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.
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!
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