In December 2011 an orphan Brown-Headed Parrot with a damaged wing was to become a part of our family. Coco arrived in a small box, looking a bit like a naked spikey hedgehog with big brown eyes and was all beak!!!! We all fell in love with him and in time he came to rule the roost in our home. In the mornings as the kids left for school, he would follow them out the door climbing up into the creeper, imitating Tana’s laugh followed by the screeching gate, a persistent reminder to Russell to oil the wheels.
He spent most of his days in the sunshine on our terrace causing chaos by imitating all the wild birds in the garden. If he heard Tana or Russell’s voice, he would climb down the creeper to come and join us, strutting past our Giant Boerbul Sheba, who always cowered when she saw him coming after one or two sharp pecks on the nose early on , he had established who the boss around the house.
At sunset, he would climb into his cage under the stairs to sleep. In time he learned to fly and would follow me around the garden as I worked, flying from shrub to shrub under the canopy of Teak trees. At Mealtimes, he would insist on being picked up and put on the table and if the kids invited friends over, he would stalk around the dining table giving them the evil eye, not amused to have intruders in his flock and his antics always kept us in fits of laughter.
In July 2013 July, Presidential and parliamentary elections were held and we all went to vote hoping that we would finally see change. Robert Mugabe gained a seventh term in office and his Zanu -PF party three-quarters of the seats in parliament. The opposition MDC dismissed the polls as a fraud. Mugabe had now been in power 33 years and with no end in sight, we reluctantly decided it was time to move on.
The hardest part of making this decision was saying good bye Our dogs Sheba and Smudge who had given us such unconditional love . Russell and I made a 1000 km round trip to drop our furry children with Piet and Yvonne Berhhoudt on their farm, looking out the Matopos Hills. At this point it all became too much, I wept all the way home as our years of uncertainty and struggle seemed distilled in this one simple act of having to leave our beloved shadows behind!