Meryl Harrison – her 80th Birthday

Meryl Harrison on her 80th birthday

Meryl Harrison photographed at the party to celebrate her 80th birthday.

Meryl Harrison is renowned for her part in the rescue of the animals forcibly abandoned on farms during the turmoil of Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme. 

“I never thought I’d reach my 80th birthday. Those of you who know me well know my life has been a bit of a car crash, and really it’s quite unexpected. I’ve crawled here one way or the other.”

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Zimbabwe – “I think we’ve got the gist of it…”

What next?

What next?

The telephone connection sounds thin. I turn up the volume to catch the reporter’s voice. A few horrific details staccato down the line then stop…suddenly the voice is gone.

There’s an awkward silence, a brief in-between space, and then a curt announcement from the show’s host: I think we’ve got the gist of it…”

Papers shuffle and a new topic fills the air.

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The identity question – Zimbabwean?

Why are we who we are? This is an old thought remastered, that takes me straight back to where I began.

The Phraser

Zimbabwe's children - what next? Zimbabwe

A young man, a stranger, asked me about identity, about my identity as a Zimbabwean. His question made me think…am I Zimbabwean?

The further I travel the more elusive the idea of ‘belonging’ becomes, and the more urgent the need for ‘identity’.

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Innocent Victims by Catherine Buckle: Extract 4

This is the last of four extracts from Innocent Victims to be published on The Phraser. It is a reminder of the chaos that came with Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme, and of the courage of those who tried to help.

The Phraser

Innocent Victims - Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions by Catherine Buckle Innocent Victims – Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe’s farm invasions by Catherine Buckle.

Innocent Victims is about animal rescues in Zimbabwe during a violently enforced land redistribution programme which spilled across the country’s farms at the turn of the millennium.

Meryl Harrison and her small team from the ZNSPCA were at the heart of the rescues.

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Innocent Victims by Catherine Buckle: Extract 3

This is the third of four extracts from Innocent Victims, the book by Cathy Buckle about the rescue of the animals caught up in Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme. This extract shows the confusion that erupted over who got what land, and how this impacted on the animals involved.

The Phraser

Innocent Victims - Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions by Catherine Buckle Innocent Victims – Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe’s farm invasions by Catherine Buckle.

“In total, 260 Holstein cows were stuck in the middle of a bitter dispute and were losing weight and condition dramatically.”

The land the cattle were on had originally belonged to the Hughes family who had bought Bains Hope Farm in 1932. In 2003 the family were evicted and the land was caught in a tug-of-war between A1 settlers and Mr Bayisa – an A2 settler. As the arguments and intimidation continued the cattle got weaker and weaker.

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Innocent Victims by Catherine Buckle: Extract 2

Here is the second of four extracts from Cathy Buckle’s book ‘Innocent Victims’ about animal rescues in Zimbabwe. This piece is about Terry Ford’s devoted dog Squeak.

The Phraser

Innocent Victims - Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions by Catherine Buckle Innocent Victims – Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe’s farm invasions by Catherine Buckle.

Terry Ford was murdered on Gowrie farm in Norton in Zimbabwe in March 2002. A photograph of his body, concealed beneath a blue bedspread and with a Jack Russell curled against its side, was picked up by news teams around the world.

The dog was called Squeak. His defiant vigil ensured that the world acknowledged his master’s brutal death.

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Innocent Victims by Catherine Buckle: Extract 1

This is the first of four extracts from Cathy Buckle’s book Innocent Victims – a book that tells the stories of the animal rescues attempted during the chaos and damage of Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme. It begins in 2000.

The Phraser

Innocent Victims - Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe's farm invasions by Catherine Buckle Innocent Victims – Rescuing the stranded animals of Zimbabwe’s farm invasions by Catherine Buckle

In 2009 Merlin Unwin published Innocent Victims by Cathy Buckle – a book about the efforts made to rescue the animals caught up in Zimbabwe’s farm invasions. Meryl Harrison led the team that tried to help.

Here’s a little background as to how it all began, followed by an extract of a few paragraphs to give a flavour of the story.

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