I find myself in a dusty rickety combi, which is the norm for these minibuses, it’s not too bad inside but I know I won’t be comfortable and free to stare into blank space while I daydream for long. And sure enough soon I and other passengers are all crammed past full capacity in the vehicle.
I am seated on the right-hand window seat in the front row of the bus, behind the driver’s seat. I’m not comfortable, particularly because my knees have been given the task of supporting someone’s sack of potatoes which sit on a little step in front me. Moreover I’m trying to figure out what to do with my left shoulder: should it be behind or in front of the shoulder of the suited man slotted next to me? I notice this man’s beige suit and immediately start to feel the heat on his behalf because it’s so hot and dry and dusty. Despite all of this the ride is still not that bad; when there are limited options for public transport you take what you can get, in Harare we’ve all got to just cram each other in whatever thing on wheels we find so we get to where we want to go.
No, it’s not bad at all, though it’s not excellent, but we are all used to it. Even I’ve become used to it and I grew up very ‘sheltered’ and wealthy, in my family we always had a car to take us where we needed to go, but then again I was raised during a better economic climate compared to my younger siblings today…
We finally arrive in town and well this is the bad part. For the CBD, Central Business District, this place is just sad and by ‘sad’, I mean it’s so underwhelming. Especially for anyone born in the 90s or before like me because we remember a more prosperous and thriving city but at the moment it seems development has come to a full stop.
(A prettier [older] picture of Harare)
Image source: experiencezimbabwe.com
Now our ‘town’ as we prefer to call it (actually a major city), is dirty and chaotic. I recall a humorous conversation about H-town:
“It just gets worse and worse”
“Soon we’re going to see animals (livestock) roaming around”
The downtown and outer edges of town have become a vendors’ campsite-paradise. A few weeks ago I watched a parliament session where the issue of our unsitely situation was raised but indeed as John Godfrey Saxe is believed to have said, we can loose our regard for certain things, like lawmaking and sausages, once we know how they are made. All I could conclude from the rowdy Parliament session was that our government doesn’t have a solution, or at least one they agree on. During this week there were authorities tasked with chasing away vendors and combis that cause a lot of the mess but that won’t stop them easily neither does it change the fact that it is our infrastructure itself that is dated and our economy that is lacking. The issue isn’t just cleaning up a mess it’s about cleaning up our economy and improving livelihoods. However, until there are improvements, many men and women will continue back and forth through town and will power through the tough time’s.
(Crowds gathered in a corner of Town)
Image by T. P. Masando