Tweed resident tells of fleeing Mugabe’s tyranny in Africa
A SHONA tribe carving in the African corner of Lynda Tait's Banora Point home conjures up mixed emotions of her life in Zimbabwe.
"It reminds me of leaving Zimbabwe and becoming a migrant for the second time in my life," she said.
The first time the volunteer worker for U3A migrated was at age nine when her family left Eng- land for Rhodesia, later renamed Zimbabwe "for a new and exciting life".
The second time was in 1983.
"This time I was 43 with a family of teenagers, a home and my husband Derek and I both had careers and financial security," she said.
"Life was good."
There didn't seem to be a future for our family there...We chose Australia and it was the right decision.
When Robert Mugabe became president the changes were subtle at first.
But Ms Tait and her family, like many other white Rhodesians, witnessed increasing hostility and changes in attitudes.
"The takeover was aimed at agricultural lands and white farmers were leaving in droves, even families of several generations felt pressured and were migrating to other countries," she recalled.
This prompted the Tait family to migrate.
"There didn't seem to be a future for our family there," she said.
"We chose Australia and it was the right decision."
For those leaving Zimbabwe permanently the Mugabe Government had frozen bank accounts, restricting the allowable amount to $1000 per adult, just enough to cover fares out, plus furniture freight costs.
"All white goods had to be over five years old to leave the country," Ms Tait remembers.
"We learned some very creative aging techniques and a sympathetic second- hand dealer certified our goods as being over five years old."
Their house, goods and a car all had to be sold in the months before their departure.
"We had money in the bank we couldn't take out so we decided to live the high life," she said.
"We flew business class wherever we could, ate out at restaurants and even hired a small plane to fly with friends to a remote resort."
The family even gave money to their helper of more than 22 years.
Arriving in Australia was a shock for the family.
"We had no home, friends or jobs and were dependent migrants in a hostel, but we were safe," Ms Tait said.
"If you were prepared to work, and we were, then there was a great future to be had in Australia."