By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
There are places on this plateau, places where life goes on without Twitter or other Sosho-media, where Olinda is unknown and gonyeti is the term used for a Paul Matavire song about the articulated trucks that birthed that name. People live in such places, people with as much claim as anyone else to be on this plateau, but people that are largely forgotten in the national conversation.
These people live in a Zimbabwe of faith, of trust in the overall good of their fellow men, a Zimbabwe that is not driven by profiteers and other crooks who would starve their own child for profit. No, this is not suggest that there are no crimes in this Zimbabwe, far from it, but it is a Zimbabwe whose cares and concerns are very different from our own.
It is a Zimbabwe of practicalities, usually those of life or death. A Zimbabwe of broken down boreholes and hospitals with no medicines. A Zimbabwe of maternity wards where mothers give birth by candlelight.
It is a Zimbabwe of no hospitals, where the solution to problems is not a trip to ‘the offices in town’ or a petition or even a demonstration, but quite often the trusted ‘sambeni enhlane sokhuleka’. Like l said, a Zimbabwe of faith.
It is a Zimbabwe that does not care that there is a comedian that has either been abducted or has faked such abduction, or that the peace and security situation in the country has deteriorated so badly that criminals can brazenly target even the celebrities (or what passes as such) on this wretched plateau without compunction.
Drive down the road in any rural area, on roads that have not been visited by DDF in enough time for the children born after the last time to start talking, and see the kind of depravation.
You chance upon a family function, where they have invited the village to help them rehabilitate the graves of the long departed and the recently followed, places where they use beer to entice free help and simultaneously “live”, and you will hear pleas for ‘mari yechigayo’ or, more painfully, just ‘ndipevozve svidokodoko ndibatsirike’.
It is not a lot that they seek, it costs ZWL$5.00 to grind a bucket of maize, if you managed to get any maize: many did not even bother trying to ‘harvest’ after the sun had had its field days.
But, to people that are excluded from the US$3billion for Command Agriculture that we are now talking about, or the US$95million that a minister used to, among other things, invite everyone and everything including the village dogs to a weeding in Cape Town, it means the difference between a meal and sleeping without.
This is a Zimbabwe that watches as others eat. Where MPs go to those they think are after their seats and gloat that they will get their land cruisers in two weeks or so, yet they were elected to represent people who just wish they can have a working borehole nearby, and not have to buy water or seek to add their bucket in the scotch-cart that will be dispatched to the next village where a working borehole can only do 1000 litres a day.
This is a Zimbabwe that cares nothing for red passports for MPs, a Zimbabwe that has no portion in whether or not Sakunda has been paid for 2021, because that’s just not a familiar name to them.
A Zimbabwe to who the US Embassy going to Job Sikhala’s house is without relevance. A Zimbabwe that just wishes there could be food in the stomach sometime soon, before starvation starts giving options that are not palatable.
It is a Zimbabwe that sees 14 year old girls leave home to be married by makorokoza, because at least you get to eat daily, not sometimes. It is a Zimbabwe that goes kuma gully, in the hope that maybe there will be something at the end of it, but knowing that since the local GMB no longer holds any stock, it might not be soon.
While we monkey around and talk about dialogue, while we sneer at cars for Commissioners and the like, there is a Zimbabwe that is dying.
While we posture around trying to outdo each other in our use of the foreign language that divides us more than it unites, trying to outdo each other on how we might make it summersault in our mouths, there is a Zimbabwe that yearns for something to eat, water to drink, and hope.
There is a Zimbabwe to who that pain that you feel when something really bad has happened is a way of life. A pain that starts off in the mouth and makes you swallow on nothingness, and then the pain travels down you frame and you feel it settle down like an emptiness at the pit of the stomach and you feel a chill travelling up, threatening to wring tears from adult eyes because theirs is one of those lives, and that is just tough. It is a pain that attacks young and old alike, in their version of Zimbabwe.
You know that pain? Then imagine it being a daily thing, as you look at children born in hope, given enthusiastic names like “Believe”, “Gift”, “Lavender” etc, but who now look at the parent expectantly for something to eat, something to wear, but see nothing. Shuma and matobwe trees toil at the assault of grown ups climbing to get something with which to feed the kids, so that they can say “indai munomwa mvura”, in the hope that sleep is possible, another day gone.
While the few to blame are busy outdoing each other with their cars, mansions in the northern suburbs and children in private schools, there is a Zimbabwe that is dying. We do not stop often to worry or even think about this Zimbabwe. We do not give it a say when we talk about sanctions, either to defend them or condemn them.
We do not consider this Zimbabwe when we play the blame game about dialogue. We do not factor in the effects of our corruption on this Zimbabwe, yet knowing full well that in it are the most vulnerable to be found. There will be no conferences held in this Zimbabwe, but rather in the most swanky places where our cars will travel to on subsidized fuel.
It is time, perhaps, to think about this Zimbabwe, but we probably won’t. Because in the final scheme of things, not anybody that matters really cares about this Zimbabwe.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a Harare based lawyer