Excerpts from my diary

By Lindani Chirambadare

Dear Diary…

Today, as I was walking along Robert Mugabe Way, I witnessed sudden commotion as women balancing wares on their heads and carrying babies on their backs ran for dear life. I heard; ‘kanzuru, kanzuru! ‘(Council police! Council Police!). I looked back and saw a man’s wares being taken away. I imagined he was a family man; and that his family was waiting eagerly for him to provide for them. I imagined hope- the hope that he could be the kind of father who can provide for his family die in his eyes like a smothered candle wick. I imagined that one of those women, running for dear life was a widow, or a single mother, or an orphan heading a family.

One thing is certain, these women and men were trying to make an honest living the only way they know how. They were struggling to provide for their families. I remember how my own widowed grandmother raised her own children through vending. I, as other members of my family, benefitted- directly or indirectly- from that labour of love. Just like my grandmother, the women and men I saw today, were trying to make something out of their children’s lives, for them to be counted among others.

I am asking myself many questions as I write. Have the people in Council forgotten why they were elected? Have they lost touch with the reality that they were chosen to make the lives of these very same people they harass each day better? Are their actions making these women’s lives more secure or have they become the cause of their insecurity?

My heart bleeds for these men and women and yes I am shedding the solitary tear. I ask myself, what can I possibly do to change their lives? Right now, today, all I can do is tell their story but maybe someday…

Dear Diary…

On Fridays I finish work early. I usually cannot wait for Fridays because I just rush home to sleep and wind down. Last Friday however, I could not go home early because the combi (commuter omnibus) fare had risen by 100%. I had to wait for those mshikashika combis because they charged me less. To say that I was angry is an understatement. To say that I was pained is to belittle the emotion I felt. I stood there with many people who were as stumped as I was that the kombi fare had risen dramatically because the City Council in its wisdom required them to use the Coventry road terminus. I approached City of Harare representatives at the terminus and asked them why the fare had been hiked. They said it was none of their business. They said they were there just to implement what they had been told to do. They instructed me to talk to the combi owners. I did. The combi owners told me upfront; they were not passing a chance to  fares was and since there were no gazetted fares from the Road Motor Transport regulator at Mukwati Building, they were going to charge what they want.  I, the consumer, had no recourse whatsoever.

I looked at the old men and women around me who were stranded.  They were already cash strapped. Paying the usual five rand required by the Mshikashika combis was already hard for them. They were already too broke to go home, too broke to buy food or even water. Asking them to pay extra was milking them dry.  For a moment I thought; just pay the damn dollar and go home to rest. Heck, I needed some rest. But then again paying that dollar meant allowing this madness to continue. The right thing to do was to be part of a small civil resistance group, to stand in solidarity with others against the madness and refuse to pay the extra amount. And that is what I did.

Dear Diary…

Our very lives are trouble. Some may think there are bigger issues out there that I should worry about but these are the things that happen every day and in one way or another, they compromise my security. They make me feel unsafe. I wonder, does the Harare city council understand what the theme for the 16 days of activism really means? Do they know what it means to create “safe spaces” for women? Do they know that all these things they are doing compromise women’s safety and security?

What should I do? What can I possibly do? Today I will tell the story but maybe one day…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s