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Defying The Odds – Zimbabwe And The Balancing Rocks

The Balancing Rocks of Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe

Sometimes, I will be walking around the neighbourhood and all of a sudden I will be overwhelmed by a smell that blasts me back on a nostalgic wave to summers in Harare, Zimbabwe: a sweet, hazy smell of sugar cane, sweet dill and citrus. Sometimes, on those rare days, when the sun is shining and it begins to rain, I get flashes of a family trip to the granite hills of Domboshawa. Sometimes, when I am faced with questions of magnitude and immortality, my mind invariably takes me back to Victoria Falls. In my memory, I walk through the rain forest with my grandmother and grandfather, almost to the edge of the precipice. It is here that I am reminded that we are less than a drop of water on this planet, and that the world is full of beauty.

But, over the past few days, culminating with the resignation of Mr. Robert Mugabe, the president of thirty-seven long years, what stands out to me the most, are those incredible Balancing Rocks. Found at various places around the capital, Harare, they are a tangible reminder of the precarious balance that has prevailed in the country for many a year.

As a child, I remember wandering around the Balancing Rocks, imagining the giants that must have assembled them – perhaps they were playing a neanderthal game of Jenga and gave up in the middle? I remember the urge to push them over, to uncover the secret to their union. Not that pushing them over was remotely possible, mind you. But I simply had to know: what was this phenomenon? Were the Balancing Rocks actually a single rock with individual rock growths of different colours, shapes, sizes and sediments? Were they actually glued together by natural cement – orangey clay from the lakes? Mud fused with stone and insect matter? A mixture of elephant and lion dung? Were they pierced through the middle like a skewer? They seemed to defy physics. They seemed to defy logic.

With Mugabe gone, the child in me wonders whether the Balancing Rocks have done their job and will slowly begin to tumble over in relief. They have held it together for so long. They deserve to retire and bask horizontally under the warm Zimbabwe sun. But, the adult in me knows that the rocks are still very much needed. The President is gone but who knows what will come next? Nothing is certain, neither the transition, nor what happens in the country the day after the transition. The Balancing Rocks are still very much needed as a reminder and as a symbol. These formidable and incredible formations speak out to the fact that Zimbabwe can rise up to greatness and beauty once again, because Zimbabwe has resilience, stamina and it can defy what seem like impossible odds.

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