In the beleaguered nation of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, whose very name is symptomatic of the country's black-white problems, anywhere between 25 and 100 people die daily in Black Africa's bloodiest independence war.
In London, peace negotiations involving Britain and rival factions seeking power are ironically deadlocked, ostensibly over an immediate procedural issue possibly involving only one word.
Behind the one word -- whether the Patriotic Front guerrillas "will" or "may" not seek to have further negotiations on an independence constitution -- the real problem is lack of trust among Britain, the guerrillas and Rhodesian whites, who have thwarted black rule since illegally declaring independence from Britain in 1965.
Deadlines have come and gone in the London talks, entering their sixth week, but events next week are almost certain to determine whether and how the fragile peace effort continues.
Britain is asking the Front to agree to a constitution without knowing the remainder of the peace package involving transitional arrangements to separate the warring forces and bring about an election.
Thus, the British refuse to accept a statement from Front leaders Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo that they "may" not seek to reopen talks on the constitution if the transitional arrangements meet their approval. British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington wants a firm agreement that they will not do so, fearing that otherwise the conference could bog down in endless debate.
Nkomo and Mugabe fear that if the transitional talks break down Britain would go ahead with the agreed constitution and implement it with Zimbabwe-Rhodesian Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa, who has already given his approval.
British officials publicly deny such intentions but privately there is talk of such a "second-class solution." Such a move, however, would probably escalate the war and lead to the possibility of East-West involvement.
The issue is the future of the 230,000 whites, less than the population of Richmond, in the nation of 7 million people.
The front says British proposals involving land compensation and pensions for whites would mortgage the black government's future to the white minority, since the cost could be more than $1 billion.
The British feel that anything less could result in a "vendetta" against the whites and lead to a mass exodus.
Carrington, who adjourned the talks indefinitely Thursday, says he is waiting for the Front to say "without ambiguity" whether it accepts the British-proposed constitution. Mugabe News Analysis and Nkomo say they have gone as far as they can and the next move is up to the British.
Nkomo said today, however, that a British aid proposal on the land issue could break the deadlock.
Both sides are spending the weekend trying to woo key outside forces: the front-line African states supporting the guerrillas and the Commonweath nations under whose auspices Britain is sponsoring the conference.
Magabe's and Nkomo's vice presidents flew to Africa this weekend to brief their backers in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania.
British sources acknowledge that the front-line states are unhappy with what they see as Britains's attempts to "strongarm" the guerrillas into accepting the constitution.
The sources hint that if there is no movement by about the middle of next week Carrington may reconvene the conference and go ahead with the negotiations on transitional arrangements without the Patriotic Front.
This would involve a calculated gamble that world, and particularly African, opinion would swing behind British and agree that the Muzorewa government, under the new constitution removing key elements of white control, would deserve recognition and lifting of economic sanctions.
The odds on such a gamble are not optimistic and therefore there is still a considerable body of opinion that Britain and the Front will find a way to compromise and continue the talks in hopes of reaching an overall settlement.
The main place where maneuvering is possible is on the land question, the key remaining constitutional issue.
Britain insists that whites must be compensated if their lands are seized, outside the country if necessary. The Front says any such program would bankrupt the new state.
Mugabe clearly stated the Front's case in a speech this week, saying: "Land is the main reason we went to war, to regain what was taken 89 years ago" when the whites took control of Rhodesia. "There are 6,000 farmers owning 7 million black people's rights."
Calling this concern of his supporters a "life and death matter," Mugabe added: "We will not accept here -- indeed, we dare not accept -- something on their account which ignores this."
The Front has received strong support in Africa on its stand on the land issue, and Britain began to take account of this Thursday with vague promises of financial assistance.
This brought rumblings of the possible revival of the $1.5 billion aid plan first proposed by former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Any such plan would require considerable American participation, and British and U.S. sources say aid talks would be "premature."
Britain has to be very careful not to appear to be bailing out whites who have been in rebellion for 14 years. In addition, Carrington is seeking to promote a spirit of reconciliation in the embattled country so that whites will stay.
Obviously, there are differences about just how far such reconciliation can go. An incredulous Mugabe posed a rhetorical questions to Carrington whether the Front was supposed to pay a pension to former prime minister Ian Smith, who led the 1965 rebellion.
The guerrilla leader then asked, "Am I supposed to shake hands with a mercenary?"
"Yes," Carrington replied, "and he would also have to shake hands with you."