I was privileged enough to grow up in the ”90’s Zimbabwe”.This decade was characterized by relative peace and stability and a booming economy that was the envy of many a nation.While my family was not filthy rich, noone ever went hungry and we were content children. Zimbabwe was, in a nutshell, a beautiful, beautiful place to be.
I often wonder if certain things still go on nowadays.As a child,my afternoons consisted of playing ”dunhu” (dodgeball or piggy in the middle) with my siblings.Barefooted, we would run outside and simultaneously yell ”First pakati!” (”I’m going to be in the middle first!”) then argue back and forth about who was going to be dodging throws from the others first.I would sulk as my cousin Natsi would dodge every single throw my brother and I hurled at her and therefore stay in the game longer.We would stay outside until someone called us in for supper.My mother would always look at our filthy feet upon entering the house and order us to march to the bathroom and wash them, lest we stain her carpet and the bed linen!Now it seems children (and their parents to some extent) would sooner find their entertainment in expensive video games.Hmmm.
I remember having assembly every Friday at school and singing the national anthem at each meeting.I enjoyed long assembly sessions because they would eat up part of the math lesson that was scheduled to start soon after assembly!
One particularly hot Sunday afternoon,my siblings and I came up with a stupid but potentially effective plan to get our parents to buy us ice cream.We had gone to Chitungwiza so my mother could pay her condolences to a family she knew.We were told to stay in the car.Instead of rolling down the windows,we mutually agreed to close them and practically bake ourselves in the small Nissan Sunny.My parents said they’d be ”in and out” but because they’re Africans, they eventually spent about half an hour inside.
Needless to say,when they opened the doors to the car,they were greeted by such oppressive heat and four sweaty half baked kids!My little brother,Takura,who was about 2 at the time was crying, not understanding at all why we we were going through with this insane plan.My parents were baffled as to why the windows were closed as we drove off.Then we saw him,the ice cream man from Dairiboard pushing his cart laden with frozen delights.I felt my brother,Tapiwa,elbowing me and I cleared my throat,”Mama naDaddy, can we please have ice cream?” After mildly upbraiding us,they bought us the treats.The plan had worked!
I remember finding 50cents in my school bag and leaping for joy because I could buy myself a chocolate bar or a freezit (frozen drink in a packet) and sweets.
I remeber watching prime time programs on ZBC with the whole family while eating sadza and relish or sadza and lacto.On Monday nights we watched the crazy antics of Gringo and Thursdays nights we’d sing and dance to songs on Ezomgido.
I hated 8 o’clock pm for 2 reasons:
1. the main news bulletin started at 8 and I found the news mind numbingly boring.
2. it was bedtime for us kids!No kid likes going to sleep!
DJ’s I grew up listening to on Radio 3 (now Power FM) include Simon Parkinson, Mark Pozzo, Bridget Gavanga (Bubbling BEE), Patricia Mabviko (was she a DJ?Not so sure anymore…),Peter Johns, Sophie Chamboko, James Maridadi,Comfort Mbofana and Kudzi Marudza.To this day I am convinced that 90’s music and ”old school” trumps today’s stuff 1000 times over.
Some of my favorite foods were Willards Chompkins, RC Cola,maFizz pop, ZimPack Maputi, Charhon’s biscuits and ”fresh pies” from either Baker’s Inn or King Pie.
One day,a friend brought a tamagotchi to school and the whole grade 5 block clammered to get a look.Tamagotchi’s were ”electronic pets” that one had to ”feed and take care off” like a real pet (Google it for a more apt description).Within a week, everyone had on but I dared not ask my
father for one lest I were to get a lecture about mixed priorities and fleeting vanity.
In the 90’s, everyone was wearing spaghetti tops and cargo pants. Every girl had some sort of ”Spice Girl” inspired merchandise: maSpice platform shoes,dolls, stickers, posters etc.WE were all screaming ”Girl Power”.
When it was too hot for ”dunhu” we opted for ”mahumbwe” (playing house”). We would sit under the big umbrella tree in the garden and bake mud cakes and buns.One day we decided to ”cook” real food so we stole a box of matches from the kitchen and lit a pile of papers on fire so we could cook the vegetables we stole from the garden.They tasted horrible.
The Harare Agricultural Show was the place to be every mid August! With our packed lunch,we’d go and marvel at the various exhibits then later ride the rather tame rides at Lunar Park.To us, it was the greatest feeling ever and we would phone our cousins in Mutare to gloat about our day ”kuShow”.
I remember posing for pictures in Harare Gardens at my aunt’s wedding.
I remember having braids that were burnt at the ends with a candle so they wouldn’t come undone.
I remember taking the Tenda bus to boarding school.
I remember jostling for a seat in a commuter omnibus (kombi) with other home ward bound passengers at Fourth Street or Rezende street.
I remember loving this land.I remember crying for it (still do!).
I know that I could never love another country the way I love Zimbabwe.It’s quite impossible.