It’s the beginning of summer in Zimbabwe. The sound in the hot afternoon is crackling - pods exploding and scattering shiny brown seeds into the dust. It is dry now. It has been many months since the rains. We’ve come through the cold and the frosty nights and the trees are doing everything at once. They are dancing the change of season. They come alive in expectance of rain and growth and continuance. These trees are called Msasa and they cover the North East of Zimbabwe. They spread North through Zambia and into the DRC where they grow much taller closer to the Equator, and East almost to Mozambique where on the mountains they grow very small at the limits of their altitude and their livelihood.
They are exploding their seeds and they are getting dressed in new leaves. The leaves come in all colours – yellow, orange, red, crimson and after that first hot flush they turn green – long before there is even a smell of rain on the wind.
The leaves and the pods settle on the weathered grass of the thatched homes in our village. We look after trees in our village. They shelter our buildings and our gardens. There is a strong hunger for wood, and these msasa trees make a good fire. It’s the wood that has been used for centuries to warm our hearths but centuries ago the forests covered the country. Now there are many places where there is only grass, or not even grass any more - only dust. So we look after our trees, they give us shelter and shade. They make our village beautiful. They are our friends, and our mothers. When the rains come mushrooms sprout underneath them and they give us food.
Web 2 helps me share this and helps you to know the gentleness and the harshness of our land. How the trees are beautiful and strong like women. How they grow together in groups, spread their branches to touch each other and whisper together like women. How they give shelter and nourishment like women take care of their children and families. How they they keep homes warm and welcoming even through hard times of hunger and pain, frost and wounds. How they mirror the arch of the sky that holds us all.
Through Web 2 I can bring our village into your lives and your lives into our village. We can share our stories and witness each other in our power and our beauty and our diversity. I can sit in my office under the trees and through the satellite internet connection, powered by the sun I can connect with the world. And with the many women who have touched a tree and drawn strength and refreshment, and who have been conscious of the connection to the deep, cool, permanence of the earth. Hearth. Home.
478 words.Voices of Our Future Application: Empowerment and Web 2.0