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Salisbury the Swallow’er’_Spit’ter’

There is nothing as difficult as writing an African experience. Especially for a beginner like me. Involuntarily one finds the writing entangled in the somewhat inescapable web of history.  This is what I found myself in, as I was thinking of what drew me unto (please it’s not an error. I didn’t want to use ‘into or onto” the capital city of the House of Stone, the place that inspired this post.

It’s funny how I got unto this kind of madness I am sharing with you! It started with the weekly task of cutting firewood at home. This is where context matters for you reader. This has become a duty for me in one of Salisbury’s black suburbs: Mufakose. Don’t be perplexed by my use of Salisbury in a nation that is now 40 years old. I’m still 100%+ patriotically Afrikan. I deliberately used the names  Salisbury and Mufakose. I just chose to use the old name of the city. I feel whatever the changes happening to it is doing little to change systematic structures and demarcations of who stays where and who does what in this wonderful city.

As I heated my body with this wonderful work, I came to enjoy the paradoxes that characterize our lives.

Before coming to Salisbury, we dreamed of the place day and night. We wanted to live in the city. So we prayed to the Creator of the heavens and the Earth to grace us with our desires. For people like me, the getaway ticket to Salisbury was academics. The prayer(s) of Salisbury are clothed with their own paradox.

The first river we crossed on our way to Salisbury.

On one hand there is me praying to reach the city with little thought of the unintended consequences. On the other hand there was my Gogo (grandmother) praying a paradoxical prayer driven by hope and fear. Gogo’s hope is that once my child’s child reaches there and escape the fine teeth of the city, the family at large and the grandchild at personal level has gained. Salisbury since it’s inception has been on it’s alluring side, viewed as the land of possibilities. Therefore, there is a certain level of prestige and hope associated with families who sponsor their members to this home of uncertainty.

It’s the other prayer of Gogo that led me to the conclusion that Salisbury is a ‘home of uncertainty’. Gogo would pray in secret that the granter of fortune should bless me with long memory that will make me remember my roots. She would counsel me directly after secret prayers, not to forget who I am. This fear, for me, was driven by what she might have possibly seen in her short life: boys and girls; men and women who never managed to come out of the belly of the city. Some came only to breathe their last in the soothing air of the country if they managed to reach that country with the breath in their breath box.

What’s in a city that has provoked this writer to write about this article? It’s the contrast between it’s magnetic power while one is still away and expulsive force when in. When we were still away we didn’t know Harare’s story as depicted in Ignatius Mabasa’s classic Mapenzi ( If the borrower of my copy returns it, I will try to write about Salisbury’s transformation).

We knew Salisbury as a place where cooking was done using the invisible fire from Kariba. We dreamed of an undifferentiated day where city lights cover up for sun’s rest hours. We hoped to soak ourselves in either overflowing bathing tabs or with warm waters from the showers! Salisbury made us think we will see the dishes and laundry being done in big metal sinks. I will not trouble you with what we found in her.

Little did we know Salisbury was now humble enough to embrace boreholes, Wells, dust and patched roads, firewood among other new urban niceties.

Faced with these unintended realities we found ourselves in prayer rooms motivated by a new tug-of-war between fear, despair and shame on one side and hope on the other side. We prayed that the Almighty allow the city to have a little mercy on us. We wished a little window of opportunity be opened that we survive. In some instances we prayed that we will be able to return to the country. But it is a place you don’t go empty handed, so we hanged around, leaning on the prayer of mercy.

As i think of this experience I am drawn to the wisdom of old, ‘Muchapera nechakapedza mbudzi’ (Like goats you all are going to be extinct). Like a goat being attracted to the glitter of the python we were attracted by the glitter of the city. Now that it has won our hearts and bodies it’s spitting us diseased and empty handed!

Published by advocateofunpopularopinions

I am a preacher confused in the constant happenings of life. I have been secretive about inner thoughts. Now I want to flow with them. I want to vomit. The pen is my link to the paper. The keyboard becomes the first step towards you. The internet will sort everything else considering I am not broke.

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