April 2007
Central and Southern Africa Yearly Meeting
Hlekweni, Zimbabwe

photograph by Sheldon Weeks

The long journey to Zimbabwe started a day earlier for Friends from Lesotho.

I joined them for a long hot wait near Jo'burg Park Station, as we waited for our coach to arrive
(and briefly managed to see that dear rascal Lesego before we left).

To avoid the Easter rush at Beit Bridge we travelled via Botswana, spending a night at the Kagisong Centre in Gabarone.

The famously huge Botswana skies filled up - unusually - with clouds

It was raining - yes, raining in Botswana! - by the time we reached the border.

Against expectations it was the Botswana side that was blocked up, taking us many hours of pointless queuing before we could even reach the Zimbabwe side. Juggling our luggage between coaches across the border kept things interesting!

photograph by Sheldon Weeks - But eventually we arrived at Hlekweni - a place I know well.

My last stay in Zimbabwe was during the dry season - the rain and fresh greenness made a welcome change.

photograph by Sheldon Weeks - The food at Hlekweni had also improved enormously.

Martin Wilkinson (my old boss at QPSW) gave the Richard Gush lecture on negative effects on society of inequality.

The face behind Martin is Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, an inspiring community peace-maker from Wajir in north-east Kenya.

The weather did its best to add to what was already a very atmospheric week!

Yearly Meeting for Quakers is a social and spiritual gathering, and time to engage with local concerns of Friends, who are often very involved in social issues in the regions they live in.

A highlight for me was hearing several people who were involved with the Hlekweni rural training centre talking about its history and development, which I had researched while setting up their website two years previously.

photograph by Sheldon Weeks - some of the lively Young Friends, laying flower petals on the table

The Taize prayer session included some very beautiful African chants.