By Wisdom Mumera
The large group of children whispers conspiratorially gathered together. Suddenly they rush away from each other shrieking loudly. Passer bys stare at them in confusion. Others don’t even look at them. They continue walking towards their destinations.
Suddenly the evening is split apart by the loud eruption of an explosion. Caught unawares adults duck into hiding. Some clench their ears assaulted by the loud sound. Startled some jump out of their skin dropping bottles of beer and paperbacks.
Standing at a safe distance the group of children erupts into ribalds of laughter as they view the effects of their work.
Hearing the laughter the adults realize they have been conned. The large sound was the explosion of a 2Rand firecracker.
Angry but sensible enough not to get angry at children enjoying their Christmas, they whisper expletives and walk on. Others quaked and stymied by the fear they momentarily felt, shout loud and harmless rebukes at the guffawing children readying to waylay another unsuspecting bunch of adults taking life too seriously.
It`s the evening on December 25 in a Zimbabwean nation that has been facing tumultuous times economically and politically.
Politically the inclusive government is wasted, expired and out of office. The ruling government is a ZANU (PF) majority that isn’t backing away from the controversial indigenization and empowerment policies that have allegedly driven away Foreign Direct Investment.
FDI is a secondary form of economic input and the main objectives of the government in policy formulation won’t be aiming at snaring it. Empowering the native and formerly marginalized person is the center point.
Be as it may at the peril of the economy, controversially pegged to grow by 6,23 in 2014 with a 4,2billion budget and a liquidity crunch that saw crowds stampeding at banks drawing their money fearful of what next year holds monetarily. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s reassurances that the Zim dollar wasn’t returning any time soon is failing to strike hope in many.
Fearful of leaving their money to stay and evaporate in financially teetering banks, people are rushing to withdraw it all.
But its Christmas time and nobody is paying much attention to all that bleak talk. Outwardly that is.
From midday radio volumes have been steadily rising until now that the ghetto neighbourhood is throbbing under the varied weight of different types of music. Each family or gathering is playing its own favoured type of music, uncaring what those at a house next to them are playing.
That’s the meaning of ghetto. Do as you like and mind your own business. They won’t be any collisions.
Despite the crunching poverty that has seen many resorting to varied types of informal trading as formal companies have closed, Christmas time is still a hallowed moment of recapping good living.
From the train of tumultuous lifestyles over the lanky length of the year, at Christmas most are taking time out to breathe.
The day has gone beyond the Christian boundaries of celebrating the birth of Christ the savior. It’s a salvatory day when people get to live as they always dream.
Conscripted by financial burdens, that haven’t suddenly disappeared, during the dying year, many can now buy themselves tasty treats.
Ironically steep inflation has created a scenario where the formerly elusive types of food are now the everyday consumables.
Rice and chicken, which were staple diets in the festive periods of economically stable times now gone, are now readily available for small amounts of money every day, as compared to times past.
At a US$1 dollar per loaf its bread which is now beyond the affordability of many, not rice whose 1kg packet costs the same price but feeds many more mouths.
They are not affordable per se, but they are no longer special types of foods to be reserved for Christmas tables. Off layers sold at Irvines Chickens, one of the largest chicken companies in the country are sold at most shopping centers as cuts whose prices range from 5Rand for chicken skins and US$1 for small pieces.
Now families resort to cooking spaghetti and macaroni as staple dishes supplemented by other delicacies of lean financial muscle. Chicken has however proved too famous and attached to Christmas to just vanish away from the festive table. Many still cook it.
With a 300ml Coca Cola bottle going for 5 South African Rands many can now afford to buy each other the Delta Beverages drinks instead of sharing the diluted Mazoe Orange Crush whose two litre bottle goes for US$3.
It`s Christmas, the time to live on the other side.
With the draw of evening the guzzlers who have all along been swallowing another product from Delta Beverages, Super Beer, change into Lions, Castles and Pilseners. There are already intoxicated so these bottled beers are just there to massage the coarser beers they have drank already.
Some have grouped themselves and share pieces of braaied (barbecued) meat. It’s not much but it’s enough to inform their stomachs and brains that today is different.
They shall sit outside listening to the music and sharing conversations about the difficulties the country is facing until well into the night. Even in their stupor they are very much aware that things are not well.
Their wives who have been lost in the haze of cooking smoke and smells trade their own tales enjoying the days respite from the laborious trudges of everyday.
In the streets, the children share their firecrackers waiting for ignorant adults to pass by.
It’s Christmas day in Zimbabwe, the time to forget how bad things are.
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