Out on the Town: Living in a Different World

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:

Person A:

“It just gets worse and worse”

Person B:

“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.

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(Crowds gathered in a corner of Town)

Image by T. P. Masando


When We Meet.

I don’t want to meet,
At least not tomorrow,
I don’t want to discuss how great things are…
Even though they’re not:
I don’t want to explain my absence
Or justify my silence,
I don’t want to feel the light tingle of anxiety,
nor sit through feelings of unease.
Over and over, I rehearse my thoughts: 😥
“I am so awkward”,
But from afar I seem cool,
My gift from the heavens is to be ever with calm, inviting smile, and friendly eyes 🙂

Though we are good friends, separation & time have made us more like strangers,
Or, perhaps it is my own shy cynicism & introversion that have clouded my memory of who we are and how we ought to be.

I know a little of who you are & even less of who I am,
But who are we?

If we are to meet,
This is how it should be:
You will sit across me, but not look right at me, but rather past me,
You may not stare into my eyes nor try to read my soul,
No, you should look beyond me, at some past memory or future wish,
At a pretty design on the coffeeshop walls,
And we’ll slowly sip at sweetness, secure behind our mind’s fences,
And let us laugh,
We’ll laugh about silly, trivial things,
And frown at concerning things:
About headlines, and the economy, don’t forget the state if the economy!

We won’t get personal,
We won’t dig, we’ll only scratch the surface,
For now that is enough,
For now let’s not really talk,
Let us lightly converse, lightly sip, faintly smile,
Until we again begin to build bridges and discover trust,
For now let’s just wing it!
Let us be satisfied to sip at the milk of our lives, withholding the meat.
Until I’m ready,
Until you are free,
Let’s splash in the shallows,

Life is complicated and simple, but let’s forget it all when we meet.

Tinotenda P. Masando

The Man is a Flame, His Love is Fire.

His beauty is like fire,
He leaves a trail of smoke…
His bright warm flame is alluring, but though you bring your hands close-
He is untouchable,

His love burns too hot.

He is a beautiful wild thing,
A different kind of light:
He brightens but also Cracks, Blackens, Stings, and leaves a pile of ash,
Throw over some coal and he’ll only burn more.

He is like fire,
But even fire needs air:
If you stifle him,
He’ll suffocate:
In this, he too is human,
He is like a flame,
But even flames can struggle
And die.
He is a flame who needs winds of encouragement as he rages.

Feel like Water:
I am like a lazy river or steady stream,
Sometimes my love is still
Sometimes it flows,
But we are too different:
His world is all vigorous gasses,
Mine liquid particles & water crystals.

He eats away at his path,
His law is simple and crude:
Consume, Grow, Burn!
He runs to his mark,
I take my time,
Slowly making my way,
Curving a path, one drop at a time…

When we’re together, I sometimes feel like sand,
Pieces of me popping glass under pressure,
Him burning but unable to spread, Blocked by grainy sand.

…If I too were a flame,
Then we would both blaze.
But flames die down,
And so did my gaze,
And the fires have drowned in neglect.

Begin Anew,

I woke up a different person,

One who is done with yesterday

And ready to celebrate today.

I’ve shed my skin of fear,

Washed my tears of doubt,

And learnt that the past’s place is behind me.

“What can I be without fear?”

“I can manifest my dreams:

I’ll build something significant,

I’ll never frown, for long.

I’ll go there,

I’ll spread my wings and feel the cool breeze of freedom.

I’ll find out, forever learning – a pupil of progress.

I’ll do it, that thing I’ve never dared to do;

Spread out before me are doors of greatness through which I step propelled by self-manufactured confidence.

I’ll face God boldly, without pleads or demands.

I’ll live, in spite of what others think.

I’ll learn.

And learn some more,

Then unlearn & begin anew.

I won’t give conditions to love

And make my commitments firm,

I’ll live on better terms,

And No, will be as easy as yes.

I’ve been learning to forge the future,

I’ve been discovering the record of faith, and trying to break it.

Let me be the next bar that’s set,

Let my name inspire brilliance,

And my life & ways used to polish others who wish to shine.

I used to think of Dreaming as easy & execution hard.

Now I see that even dreaming is a challenge.

Though I want to have it all,

Who am I to claim anything at all?

Dreaming big isn’t easy,

Really believing a dream is hard,

Until it becomes easy,

Until you discover your worth.

Lately, I’ve been Learning how to think,

How to see big as relatively big,

How to see luxury as not so exclusive,

How to be to be valuable & how to add value.

But really the difference between my philosophies & practices can only be judged by time”.

Strong Hard-Wood

There is a lone chair in our living room with only three legs.

It seems out of place and useless, after all it’s a chair with a missing leg.

But this chair does not see things the way people do: it doesn’t see itself as weak or pitiful, though it is the last-standing chair from a line of many broken and lost.

This chair is strong. Not with the strength of men but with an insentient will that has made it out-live it’s kin of similar make and grade.

It is the last chair standing, though it is maimed.

It stands firm, and faithful in it’s place at the table. Steadfast.

Though knowing at any moment it could be removed and replace. This chair is proud, not with the pride of men, for it is just a chair but this is a chair has fulfilled it’s duty to the end.

It does not need recognition, appreciation or praise. It did it’s job that is all.

And for a piece of hard-wood, that is enough.


Tinotenda P. Masando