Robin Norton 1983

Zimbabwe November 1983 I returned to Zimbabwe in 1983 to visit relatives, it was interesting to note the changes in the country and in particular at what was now Harare International Airport. Here are a few snatched photos taken from the aircraft, taking off from Harare on the way down to Johannesburg.

On the military side the earth embankments had been constructed during the 1970s, post 1974 which is when I left. To add height there are 44 gallon drums on the top but this does not hide the Douglas C47 Dakotas which are easily visible. Note some are in camouflage paint, others in a similar scheme as the early 1970s, but of course the name on the side would be Air Force of Zimbabwe, AFZ. Another change, this time for the Canberras are the corrugated roof shelters to protect the aircraft from the sun, long overdue, far better than the small cockpit covers of earlier years. Needless to say it would be very hot working under those shelters in the hottest time of year, October in particular.

What was noticeable was the lack of activity. I do not remember seeing one Air Force aircraft flying during my visit. It must be remembered that at this time there was a big operation in the Western region of Zimbabwe, around Bulawayo for example, the notorious 'Fifth Brigade' trained by North Korea were suppressing the Matabele, tens of thousands of these people were massacred by what Great Britain might have thought were their 'Brothers in Arms', the Shona, having fought together against 'White Rule'. Although these massacres were reported 'The West' at the time did nothing about it, a few gentle diplomatic reprimands, 'It is just not on to do this sort of thing you know!' I make no further comment about what is happening in the country now, 2003/4.