Zimbabwe – my home, my frustration

BY ELLIOT PFEBVE I looked at the sun, it was about 11:00am on Christmas day. I was getting late for this was a day of showing off. I had to rush to the shopping centre where people of all ages were celebrating the traditional christmas. I needed to show off my new clothes to the rest of the vil

lage. Every body was happy, I mean happy. There was no politics in sight, as far as I was concerned I was my own liberator, MP, Minister and Prime Minister rolled into one. This was Zimbabwe’s first Christmas after attaining Independence. I was 9.

I was tall and slender, my friends used to mock me saying I was taller seated than standing. I just wished there was a big looking glass to cover my whole body, but that was a luxury not to be seen in a village. I was wearing a new pair of black Tender-Foot by BATA and a Paramount English khaki suit from Enbee in Moffat Street. It was slightly oversized but robust and thick.

I looked like a 1890 Brakwacha without a cap, it was brilliant. My father, a carpenter by the way gave me some spending money, Z$1.00. I was the luckiest child because not many families would raise Z$1.00 in rural areas, let alone giving it to a 9-year-old. I was dressed to kill, I was lucky. As was the tradition, I passed through relatives’ houses showing off my new clothes and feasting . Almost all families would afford meat and bread at Christmas. And not only bread. This was the only time families bought dozens and dozens of loaves and tins of Sun jam and margerine.

With my $1.00, I was able to buy a box of Lebena biscuits, a bottle of Coca-Cola, a tinned beef and still remained with 70 cents. We danced to a host of musicians, Ngwaru Mapundu, Thomas Mapfumo, Marshal Munhumumwe, Oliver Mutukudzi and the Ngwenya Brothers, it was brilliant. I watched people dancing, bare footed, people crying for more. There was that human bond of a nation in the making. Zimbabwe or Rhodesia (there was still confusion) was my home – not that I owed it a fovour, but that it owed me a favour for bringing me to life.

Back home, my mother was waiting for me patiently. I had dust all over me and my Khaki suit was wet with sweat. There was plenty of food, everybody was happy. I did not know was whether the happiness was brought by Mugabe or Ian Smith.

I understand Paramount Garments have now closed down. So has the Coca-Cola company, a cheapest pair of shoes costs not less than Z$1,000,000.00. The bread is now $32,000.00. A shirt costs more than a pair of trousers at over $1,200,000.00. A monthly rent for a decent house now costs not less than $6,000,000.00. I understand that calculators no longer work in Zimbabwe because there are just too many digits.

In 1999, 80% of the population was literate, today only 50% is literate. The rest can hardly count their day’s earnings, it’s just too many zeros. I undersand that there are no more pickpockets in Zimbabwe – because anything in a purse won’t buy even a sweet, you need a carrier bag full of money to buy a pint of beer. Happy Christmas all Zimbabweans!

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