I recall that during one of his racially divisive tantrums at the height of the indigenisation process Robert Mugabe once said that in Zimbabwe “we have the indigenous and then we have the indigenous-indigenous”. What he was saying was that w
hile the Matabele people are indigenous to Zimbabwe, the Shona tribe are “more indigenous” and therefore entitled to greater privilege. At the time I wondered about a few things. The whites were not considered to be indigenous at all, even though they had arrived in Zimbabwe just 48 years after the Matabeles! And what about the Tongas, who preceded the Shonas? And of course the bushmen whose ancient artwork on the rocks must qualify them to be the indigenous-indigenous-indigenous-indigenous, although they have never received any recognition by any of the other invading population groups!
What got me thinking about all of this was a recent visit to Bulawayo, the capital of the famous (and bloodthirsty) king Mzilikazi, who founded the Ndebele nation after fleeing from his own king – Shaka Zulu. Bulawayo is a beautiful city, although somewhat neglected and depressed at present after more than a decade of challenging political upheaval in Zimbabwe. During a previous era many of the streets were planted with Jacaranda trees – yet another alien invader to Zimbabwe. I suppose only
the Chinese are more recent alien arrivals than Jacarandas in Zimbabwe, after the Tonga, Shona, Matabele and Whites.
The Jacaranada tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) is native to parts of South America, but has been successfully introduced to many other parts of the world. In fact the South African city of Pretoria is associated with these Jacarandas, but Bulawayo also has an incredible display of these beautiful trees. In some neighbourhoods of the city the pavements are planted with two rows of Jacaranda trees on either side of the street and during the flowering period this provides an incredible purple display. I'm not generally fond of alien trees but Jacarandas are so beautiful and seem not to be unmanageably invasive, so I chose to simply enjoy them while I was in Bulawayo.They contain an effective antimicrobial compound, which makes them even more welcome.