Greetings darlings, excuse my absenteeism. I was on vacation for two weeks and then returned to two more weeks of anxiety, stress and heartbreak. This too shall pass and nothing makes me feel better than writing. In other words, I’m back for your reading pleasure!
Let’s rewind to the beginning of August: I had planned a vacation to Zimbabwe (Harare). It began with a trip on the Gautrain. I don’t remember the last time I was so excited. Pity I was travelling alone so I don’t have pictures of my stupid grin spread from cheek to cheek. The Gautrain blew my mind but I couldn’t help think, I was one of very few South African’s who would experience the simplicity and thrill. Later, I found out that thieves were stealing the cables required to run the train. The truth is you can’t build a billion- rand project that will only serve a single- digit percentage of the population.
Within minutes I was starring at the Johannesburg Airport. Or should I call it a mall that happens to have a landing field? The energy at any large airport sparks off some exponential excitement. Even if you’re dropping someone off, you’ll wish they had packed you in their luggage.
The flight from Johannesburg to Harare is under 2 hours. That is just enough time for a light meal and bevy. Followed by a little arm-rest tussle whilst paging through a magazine and maybe some polite conversation with a stranger after a snooze. Compare that with an 18 hour bus ride to the same destination that includes a sleepless night and a 2-4 hour stop at the border in which you pay for your sins. I have no personal experience of this but I have been given a detailed warning and I believe the testimonies. True to the nature of a middle class vacation, I had no worries upon my arrival. I had a warm hug to welcome me, comfortable accomodation and a packed itinerary.
Harare is vibrant but dull and peaceful but slow. The city is bustling but the buildings need a lick of paint and you can walk late at night without feeling threatened but there are only a few places you can go before feeling like a goldfish in a mini bowl. Could somebody please switch on the street lights so I can see where I’m going? Strangely, I find all of this charming and familiar. It has quaint spots like the Avondale flea market which is open every day and the Borrowdale flea market which is open on Sundays. The best Chinese Food is served at Shangri La; I walked out with noodles in my hair, beef strips up my sleeve and fried prawn in my shoes. If you’re interested in night life, there are a variety of bars, pubs and clubs to satisfy that. The weather is fantastic and allows for summertime bafoonery all year round.
I suppose the real charm in Harare is carried by its inhabitants. You never know if you’re going to get a hand shake or a hug but you always feel welcome. This might also stem into a conversation in which I explain that not all South African’s are xenophobic. As a neo-Pan African (whatever that means) I see that we all carry a nervous condition. In Zimbabwe, daily life carries on as best as possible under President Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian rule, high prices and unscheduled blackouts. If I haven’t made it clear before, let it be known that South Africa pretends to be a thriving democracy but only a few get to experience it. So similarly, South African’s continue to make the best out of poor service delivery, false promises, corruption and projects like the Gautrain which only serve a few. Both countries are in dire need of a follow- up revolution. The cracks are evident: South African’s are restless and Zimbabwean authorities are scrambling for a post- Mugabe solution.
Despite this, I can’t wait to see the rest of Africa. I bow down to the City of Harare. Next vacation spot? Kenya!