Is it a roadrunner or a broiler?
By Cathy Buckle
When a chicken plummeted over my wall flapping and squawking, all hell broke loose. Kids crying on the other side of the wall, dogs barking and quivering on my side and me frantically rushing around trying to catch it. Locking the dogs inside I spent about 10 minutes trying to corner the little black rooster but he was having none of it. Running and weaving, ducking under bushes and changing direction in an instant, this bird was not going to be caught.
Asking a friend to help, the question posed was: “Roadrunner or broiler?” This is the question that you ask when you’re buying live chickens here because it makes a lot of difference to the price you pay and the kind of bird you get. The uninvited guest in my garden certainly wasn’t a fat, young bird that had been stuck in a cage and fed as much as it could eat before waiting to be slaughtered at 2 months old.
It was what’s known as a ‘roadrunner.’ A little black bantam rooster with fearsome claws; lean and scrawny, notorious for crowing on and off all night and the fastest little runner you can find. Two of us engaging in blocking and pincer movements, finally cornered the roadrunner, picked it up and returned the very indignant and loudly protesting bird to its owner.
Raising chickens is something that’s being done in almost every middle class suburban street. It’s not being done as a past-time or hobby but by teachers and nurses and other civil servants who are doing all sorts of things out of hours in order to survive.
“Huku Pano,” (chickens here) is the familiar sign on gates and walls. If it’s not livestock then its green vegetables that are being sold in bunches or tomatoes in enamel plates, avocadoes lined up side by side on strips of cardboard outside the gates in middle class neighbourhoods. Zimbabwe’s civil servants are struggling to get from one month to the next as their salaries are a quarter of the official cost of living.
It is taking the most supreme effort for them to stay in their jobs and continue going to work every day as their monthly salary is exhausted almost as soon as they’ve paid their utilities bills and bought the most basic of staple foods. Late in the afternoons and until the sun goes down you see civil servants newly changed out of their suits and smart shoes toiling over the last of their summer harvest. Spreading and turning maize cobs on their verandas, shelling mealies, digging sweet potatoes or chasing escaped chickens – roadrunners and broilers!
It’s all a world away from the political stalemate crippling the country. From the constitutional outreach programme which still hasn’t started; from the news that four independent daily newspapers have been given licenses to publish but without the repeal of laws governing freedom of expression.
The toil of our civil servants is also a world away from the diamond fields of Marange, from the soldiers and the smuggling and from the vast fortune that could be saving our country but instead is enriching a select few. Monitoring the sale of our diamonds is again about to be the lead issue at Kimberly Process meeting to be held in Israel.
Speaking to delegates at a conference this week, Mr. Mugabe said that some of the countries in the Kimberly Process are not friendly to Zimbabawe. He said that Zimbabwe went into the Kimberly Process voluntarily and could just as easily remove itself from the KP voluntarily.
It doesn’t make any sense at all that Zimbabwe has this newly discovered diamond fortune and yet our survival depends on roadrunners and broilers.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love Cathy http://www.cathybuckle.com/