This may have been peace treaty signing day for Rhodesia in London, but in the crowded, squalid Tangwena, the miseries of life went on today without any visible sign of change or hope.
In fact, for several hundred of the 10,000 refugees, it was a noticeably worse day than most: the municipal government ordered them to move from their "homes" consisting of green plastic sheeting to make way for bulldozers to flatten the remains of their $1.50-a-week shelters.
Eventually they are to be moved to another camp but for the time being many joined the approximately 2,000 refugees who have no shelter at all and sleep in the open.
Chakotova Makokwa, headman of the people in the area to be flattened, admitted that he did not know much about what was happening in London.
Of one thing he was fairly certain, however. There were too many leaders seeking power in the elections next year. If they could just sit down together in a dare , a kind of council where consensus is laboriously reached, maybe things could be better and there would be peace.
Meanwhile, he was fairly certain the war and the violence would continue. It had caused him to flee his home in Mtoko near the Mozambique border after being beaten by security forces three months ago. It is not an uncommon story.
In a sense he had a soul mate across this sprawling city -- at the airport where a young white Rhodesian excitedly watched as the first American forces entered the country in their giant C141 StarLifters to help run the massive airlift to bring in forces and equipment to monitor the cease-fire few people believe will come about.
The man, who would not give his name, had spent most of the last eight years in the military, either on active duty or call-up. What did he expect to be doing six months from now?
Fighting in the war.
Because the Patriotic Front guerrillas fighting the Salisbury administration of prime minister Abel Muzorewa were "a bunch of murderers." Six members of his family, he said, had been killed in the last six months.
Sometimes one can get the impression that the Rhodesia story is being fabricated by a scriptwriter for a B-movie. In one of the many ironies that abound in Rhodesia, the 102-day London conference culminated in success today on the anniversary of the very day seven years ago when the guerrilla war started.
In the early dawn hours of Dec. 21, 1972, guerrillas of the Zimbabwe African National Union attacked the farm of Marc de Borchgrave in the Centenary district 40 miles from the Mozambique border. In 30 seconds of gunfire his daughter, Jane, was wounded in the foot, becoming the first casualty in a war that according to official count has claimed 20,000 lives, predominantly African, although many analysts feel the actual figure is far higher.
The farm, abandoned for the past five years, still bears the scars of the attack despite being overgrown with weeds. A reporter who visited the scene said few of the farmers who still live in the front-line area are optimistic that the agreement will change things.
De Borchgrave, who left the country for South Africa and now has a farm south of Johannesburg, is reluctant to talk about the attack.
"I don't want to leave, believe me," he told a reporter. "But look, we were lucky. My family got out in one piece. That didn't happen to all the families that left."
Nor to thousands of other Rhodesians on opposite sides of the issue.On the day of the signing the government said three security force troopers, a woman and three girls were killed.
It would be hard to find anyone who thinks he or she will be the last casualty.