Staying alive in Mbare

Some unknown “artists” managed to get into our parish centre and paint their party slogans on the walls. Our people were very annoyed. Within 24 hours these “works of art” were scraped off and painted over.

A lively discussion about security followed. “The door on the ground floor must be kept locked at all times” – “There must be security lights outside” – “We need an electric gate on remote control so that Father does not have to get out of the car when he arrives home in the dark” – “What about a really vicious guard dog?” – “Security guards 24 hours on duty !”.

I am touched by the concern of the people. Trouble is, high security arrangements mean you live in a fortress or a prison. You do not just keep criminals out, but everybody as well. And that is no good for a parish centre which should be a meeting point for many. “Vicious dogs” normally bite the wrong people. Security companies cripple you financially and electric gadgets get stolen.

Just hooting to alert the caretaker is cheaper and probably as effective, I hope. And we do have some retired gentlemen on the premises all day, keeping an eye on things. However, it is good to know people care.

A member of our church congregation belongs to the “wrong party”. And his neighbours who belong to the “correct” party do not like it. Every night they were banging at his door, shouting obscenities. One day he could not stand it any more.

He challenged them and there was a scuffle. He ran away, they caught up with him, beat him, but he managed to escape. For two days there was no sign of him. Then his wife received a phone call. He told her that he was safe and sound in Zambia.

In 2005 at the time of “Murambatsvina” a family was thrown out of their lodging which was demolished. They asked me to be allowed to store their furniture in an empty garage on our church grounds.

Those wardrobes, tables and beds are still there. But now we want to use that garage as a carpentry shop. Some men want to form a cooperative and make coffins, to start with, – there is always a good market for that sort of “furniture”, they reckon. But what do we do with the “Murambatsvina” stuff?

The women have already an order for school uniforms to get started with their sewing cooperative.

Unemployment is a terrible affliction, and we can’t overcome it as long as our leaders do not lead, but only fight each other, without bothering about the people’s real concerns. But we can at least fight back. And wean people from this terrible addiction to charitable hand-outs while just feeling sorry for themselves.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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