An elegy for Zimbabwe

August 21, 2008 at 10:01 am | Posted in Human Rights, International | Leave a comment
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A Zimbawean in exile remembers her privileged childhood in a peaceful, prosperous country and contrasts it with the current exprience of her parents, struggling to survive in suburban Harare:

They have only had municipal water once in two months, and that was only for 12 hours. During this time, they managed to top up the swimming pool – water from which they use for filling up the toilets and doing the laundry. Buckets of cold water are carried from the pool into the shower to wash. It is like a black comedy and I manage a small smile as my mother describes herself “bottoms up and bent over a bucket” in the shower, dousing herself with cold, chlorinated water in an effort to keep herself clean.

They have a quarter of a loaf of frozen bread which they’ve preserved in the freezer by running the generator for an hour each day. My mother is an artist, but she’s now been forced to supplement their income (to cover rent and the spiralling cost of living) by teaching. After work, she begins her search – scouting from shop to shop looking for grossly expensive commodities to ensure they have food for the week. Supermarket shelves are generally empty and street vendors haunt the pavements, selling anything from eggs to cooking oil at extortionate prices that increase daily. Most of their groceries are sourced from various “contacts” that have various “contacts”.

The power cuts are frequent, haphazard and unannounced, so they are unable to plan activities around them. They cannot run the generator for too long as there is still the ever present prospect of fuel shortages. Their rent has just gone up 6,250 per cent.

More here.

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