Dear Uncle, Mothers, Aunts, Sisters, Brothers, Sisters-in-law, Brothers-in-law and friends
I hope this letter finds you well. I miss you so much and I would be happy to see you back home. I know you will be coming soon, maybe this month or the next or maybe later this year, or the years to come. I just thought I should tell you about what’s taking place at home before you come, so that you are prepared before you come.
I am sure you have heard of the state of our roads, and maybe you thought it was speculation. Well, it is true; the roads are depreciating each and every day. Even highways have huge potholes, the situation is that bad. It is much difficult to drive in the rainy season especially at night, because you risk losing, or puncturing a tyre or two. I am sure they are going to revise the Highway Code and include notes on how to manoeuvre potholes because the effects are just bad, causing damage to the car and a high risk of accidents.
Tap water is now something we see on television and we now see taps as only a display item. When there is tap water, the water is used for bathing, cleaning and watering the garden. We can’t risk drinking it because of the dirt we see when the water settles. We miss having showers; bucket systems are the order of the day. We have resorted to boreholes and wells for safe water. When you come, we will make sure we have purified water for you; we don’t want you having problems with your tummies, which might spoil your visit.
We now use prepaid electricity, we might not have accepted the idea at first but I think it’s worthwhile, because we are charged as we use, not like before when the bills were unnecessarily exorbitant. Well, we don’t use much of the electricity anyway, we have power cuts to ration lights and it has become a generation of generators. Your Sunshine City is now a city shining without electricity.
Back then, there were minimal power cuts and it would be a fault when there was no electricity in the CBD, which would be rectified as soon as possible, but these days it seems like the CBD has become part of the power cuts schedule, and since most of our traffic lights are electric, there is congestion everywhere, and no one gives the other a chance. The CBD has become a traffic jungle, and apparently the majority owns cars. Licensed or not, everyone wants a car and as soon as they have money, they buy one.
Most of the cars are now used for transporting people particularly the Vitts and Raum. The pedestrian crossing by the Town House has become a pick up point for people from town to Avondale. It has become a dangerous area as the council police try to remove those guys by throwing spikes in the road, and the drivers are left with no option but to speed off, risking the passengers’ lives and theirs because they cannot afford the hefty fines.
I would have loved to walk with you in the CBD when you come but there’s nowhere to walk freely – you can’t walk ten meters without saying ‘Pamusoroi’ – it is that bad. Rural to urban migration is on the increase and everyone is seeking employment. Since there’s no employment, there’s indigenisation where everyone has become their own boss. We cannot walk side by side because one of us risks stepping on someone’s tomatoes on the pavement. So when we walk, we have to be in a single file, we don’t want to be paying extra money for stepping on someone’s business and although we have a right to walk freely on that pavement, they will make you feel as if they are paying rentals for that space.
Every free space has become a market place for someone – you won’t believe it! You no longer have to worry about the long queues in Supermarkets, we can find everything in the streets, at a cheap price, maybe because they are exclusive of VAT or maybe because they were stolen from somewhere – I don’t know. The prices reduce as the day comes to an end, especially the perishables. We can buy our groceries in the road if you like, except for the meat of course which we will buy in the butchery or in the supermarket but think of anything, and it’s available on the streets.
Not only do we find food in the streets, we find clothes and shoes too. Haa life has become easier my dear relatives! Anyone with a car has a marketplace, with the boot being the store, you can find everything and anything, both new and second hand, you will look smart in thirty minutes as long as your wallet is full of money.
Did you hear that the Ximex Mall was demolished? Haa it had become a dirty and very busy place, very busy with guys selling phones and phone accessories.
It seems like many of the guys after high school find a business in the phone accessory world, buying, selling and exchanging has become the order of the day for them.
Whether or not it makes a profit, I don’t know. Or maybe people are tired of sitting and waiting doing nothing at home; they have to find something to keep them busy. I understand where they are coming from.
Anyway, there is now a car park where there was the Ximex mall, but it didn’t stop the guys from selling the phones, they are everywhere in town, especially around the Zimpost building. So if you are thinking of taking a walk in town you have to be ready to answer that NO – you don’t need a phone. It has become a town of answers, and the answer NO being the dominant.
Life has changed but we are surviving. The abnormal has become the normal for us and we are growing stronger by the day. I hope I didn’t scare you off and I hope to see you soon.
I sincerely hope you are well and all is well for you.
Love and Miss you loads.
Your Daughter, Sister, Sister in law, Niece and Friend,
Ivy Chibanda Kubatana
This letter was first published by Kubatana.com