Sunday, 19 November 2017

Maybe good times are coming...

I have grown up in a society crippled with fear. Justified fear if one looks at Zimbabwe’s history after independence. Gukurahundi, 2008.

IMG_0894.jpeg
ZANU PF Headquarters, Harare 

Our head of state was revered. Feared. Even the sounds of the approaching motorcade made us freeze. We have looked upon other countries with envy over their freedom and ability to call out their heads of state for any wrongdoing whilst back in the motherland, stating the obvious like that the president was old would have you labeled treasonous. 

Growing up, I feared the army. Just the mere sight of an army ‘puma’ left me petrified. I remember earlier this year fighting my way down a congested pavement in the CBD when I got caught up in a fleeing mob. I had no idea what we were fleeing from , I only realized when I was safe in a cosmetics shop in Chinhoyi street mall that we were fleeing from soldiers. Few people saw the soldiers, most people just ran out of fear. Crippling fear.

So 17 November 2017 is a day I am putting down as one of the most memorable days of my life. In the morning as I stepped outside to get my day started, an army helicopter went by. Instead of the trepidation that always consumed me when such a machine went past, I felt something swell within my heart. A mixture of elation, hope and fear. Fear that maybe as the day went on, there would be a horrible plot twist and things would turn ugly for the hopefully and anxious me. A lot of negative messages were doing the rounds, especially one allegedly from Emmanuel Makandiwa who prophesied that there would be bloodshed if people went ahead with the march.

The early rains and these discouraging messages did not stop me from taking a part in a momentous event in history. It seemed as if God had Zimbabweans in mind on this day, the rains stopped and no sun blazed down upon us. It was a cool day in our favor.

As we went down Lytton road towards the CBD, I could not believe my eyes at the crowds walking towards Zimbabwe Grounds. And a whole army tanker with members of the ZDF within the crowds. No one showed any fear. Everyone seemed jubilant, singing, waving flags and carrying placards that sent one strong message across.

The Zimbabwe Grounds atmosphere was surreal. I felt like weeping. The place was packed beyond comprehension. These were the very same grounds that President Mugabe had used before for major Zanu PF events. And now the citizens were using them to take part in the political processes of the country.

We walked from Highfields to the State House and up to today I do not know where the strength that allowed us to keep going came from. We walked, jogged, sang and danced to Jah Prayzah’s music along the way. Joked and laughed with people I have never met in my entire life. 

Not once did I witness any incident of violence along the way. There was this euphoria that gripped the people. This electricity in the air which made me feel so proud to be Zimbabwean, a feeling I have not had in a long time. I felt so honored to be taking part in an event that was shaping the future of Zimbabwe.

Members of the army exchanged smiles and jokes and took photos with civilians. Never in my living days did I ever think this would happen. And the state media for the first time in forever finding itself on the same side with the people. Refreshing.

So maybe we have been played as the president’s nephew says. Or we are in for more difficult times with ED at the helm as some people are suggesting. Everyone who marched was aware it was still Zanu PF in power. I didn’t march for PDP or Zanu or MDC, I marched for a fresh start so we could at least get a leader who will help revive our economy and make Zimbabwe great again. 

Maybe things will become worse. Maybe things will become better. Who knows? It’s not like all these armchair analysts predicted the events of the past few days. 

For now may we be allowed to breathe and express all the pent up frustrations, fear and hopelessness,One day at a time. After all worrying will not change anything. God showed up and showed off.


Monday, 18 July 2016

'Re-living' Holocaust horrors

I find Berlin a very compelling city. A city of contrasts, hundreds of years old bombed out cathedrals juxtaposed against new shopping malls, busy streets with fast cyclists ringing bells to pedestrians who would have strayed into the cyclists lane against the slow sluggish Spree  River with tourists taking a lazy boat ride and some Berliners sun-basking on the banks.

One very striking feature or features, are reminders all over the city, of the war that ended over 70 years ago. There are memorials dotted across the city, to remember the war and to commemorate those who lost their lives during these really tumultuous times.

One of these features which stood out for me was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; or simply The Holocaust Memorial, located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate in the Friedrich Stadt neighborhood.

The memorial, by Architect Peter Eisenman and Engineer Buro Happold is covered with 2 711 concrete slabs or stelae arranged in a grid pattern on slanting ground, with 54 rows going to the north south whilst 87 go to the east west, at right angles but  slightly askew.

Image courtesy of http://www.newyorker.com/

 I remember sending a video I took whilst going past the memorial to someone back home and they said that the place was creepy.

I was not ready for the emotions I experienced as I went into the memorial after a brief history session by our guide from Israel.

From a distance, to me, the place resembled a cemetery, with the grey concrete slabs looking like graves. The differences in the heights oft he blocks also symbolised the different people killed during the Holocaust.

Though the concrete blocks are the same length and width, at 2.3 metres long and 0.95 metres wide, the height varies, from 0.2 to 4.7 metres. This, according to Eisenman, evokes a sense of isolation and disorientation, symbolic of the events that took place during the Holocaust.

The American architect said the magnitude and scale of the horror of the Holocaust was such that any attempt to represent it by traditional means was inevitably inadequate.

Image courtesy of   peche80.deviantart.com


´´ Our memorial attempts to present a new idea of memory as distinct from nostalgia . We can only know the past today through a manifestation in the present."

In this sepulchral maze, I realised that as I went further from the starting point, the hubbub of the busy city began to fade and my field of vision was getting restricted despite the squares of light appearing at the end of each long path. There was an uneasy and confusing atmosphere and was always startled if some other person showed up from anywhere.


Already feeling chilled from the sombre atmosphere in the maze created by the stelae, we walked into the underground ´Place of information´, also designed by Eisenman, holding the names of the Jewish Holocaust victims.

This permanent exhibition which tells the savagery of the holocaust from different people’s points of view, pushed me into a reflection on one of history's grim acts of inhumanity and the quote by Italian writer Primo Levi;

“It happened, and therefore it could happen again; this is the core of what we have to say.” 

written in large letters on the wall in the main entrance immediately forced this brooding on me.

The exhibition began with an overall view of the national socialist policies that spanned the years from 1933 – 1945 and was followed by The Rooms.

The Room of Dimensions which houses diaries, letters, postcards and any  last source of news received from the victims was harrowing.

´´My dear
Don't separate from Michel. Don't let yourselves be taken tot he children’s home. Write to Papa, maybe he can help you, and write to Paulette. Ask the furrier across the way for advice. Maybe God will pity you. We are leaving tomorrow for God knows where. I'm hugging you, in tears. I would so much have loved to hug you again, my poor children, I will never see you again.´´

Letters like this one broke me.

After the room of Dimensions, I started rushing through the other rooms, overwhelmed by a sadness so profound and disgust that human beings could go to those lengths to do such to other human beings.

 In the next room, the Room of Families, 15 Jewish families were presented with photos and documentation depicting their  way of life before the Holocaust and with information on the expulsion and murder of the families.

 The Room of Names had names of the Holocaust victims are projected onto the walls with her speaker announcing the end of each victim whilst the Room of Places had a large map of Europe showing  the location of the different concentration and work camps.

I was startled as I stumbled out of the exhibition to realise that the sun was out and bright in the city after moments of being transported to a dark and horrific period underground. I left the memorial a different person that the one who had walked in.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Heat-wave,melting Eis and nudity.

It is a lovely Thursday evening, a little after 1800 hours and according to European summer days, it is still very much light outside.  Actually, the sun is blazing on us, it seems there was a heat wave in this beautiful Bavarian city of Munich, or M√ľnchen as they call it here.

The heat is stifling, but we have to explore this beautiful gem of a city.  Fedora on, shades on, loose clothing on, and we take languid step after languid step towards the UBahn station.

Our steps take us past the Ludwig-Maximilius University Juristice Faculty to this unique place, filled with sweltering bodies, on this hot day.

So imagine me, back home, my conventional ice cream flavours are Vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, banana, cherry and a little bit more. Then here, we walk into this place where icecream flavours range from Bier (Beer), to Strawberry champagne, to cabbage,to bacon , to garlic and more other quirky flavours. This is Der Verrueckte Eismacher, with very friendly staff who are eager to help and urge you to try on more flavours. 



Well, I was not really up to experimenting with my belly. I had not recovered from the huge shock to my palate experienced in this upmarket Lebanese restaurant in the Merchant City of Hamburg, when I tried this so-called ´refreshing´ drink called a Lassi, which in-fact was a blend of yogurt, water, mint and salt.

So in the icecream shop, I ordered two scoops of ´Bananen-Schokoladen-Eis´ which I quickly regretted. The sweetness was a little cloying and the Eis made me so thirsty. Well, I soldiered though my Ice cream as I could see that my colleagues had enjoyed theirs and had finished.

With my melting Eis still in hand, we walked towards the English Garden. The place took my breath away. Its size. The beauty. All of it.

Well, here is where I received my shock of the day.

Right. There is a river, It is a madly hot day. I understood people in bikini suits and bathe suits lying on the grass and splashing around in the water to cool down. I also yearned for the coolness of the river water to cool down my body.

Yet nothing prepared me for this middle aged man who leisurely walked his dog on the grass at the bank of the river, with nothing on. Nothing on. Zilch. The way new born babies are like. Strolling, strolling, strolling, with no F’s to give. Thank God my throat was dry or I could probably have choked on my spit. I looked around and no-one seemed to be as shocked as I was. Well, except for my colleagues, who are also from Africa. One kept saying ´´Man, did I just see that?´´

It seems people here are more comfortable with their nudity and bodies and that of others.  I tried picturing this in Africa and my mind just failed to cooperate. Our guide said some of these people are exhibitionists, they get naked to be seen. I'm trying tot think of a similar place back in Zimbabwe, like Lake Chivero, what kind of uproar would there be if someone just decided to take all off and walk around the place, with nothing but a smile on their face and a beer in their hand? H-Metro would have a field day. Social media would be popping I guess.

I just realised that I was probably going to see and experience more jarring things on my stay here and had to learn to take it in my stride.




Thursday, 3 March 2016

Book 4: A book and its prequel – If you deceive – Kresley Cole

The third MacCarrick Brothers book, after If You Desire. 



Book about sex, vengeance, more sex, blood, love, love, lust, forgiveness, love and a happily ever after.

Ethan MacCarrick, the Earl of Kavanagh, so handsome and reckless, until he is caught in bed with the wife of a nobleman. Though Ethan had not tupped this faithless woman (Sylvie Van Rowen) she cried rape to save herself from her husband and to settle scores with MacCarrick who had refused to bed her. The powerful nobleman ordered his thugs Ethan to brutally beat Ethan and to scar his face.

Ethan manages to get his revenge from the Van Rowens and everything seemed to be on track, till on a fateful night, he met a girl at the masquerade, whom her maidenhood he took away.
Ethan surprised himself by falling in love with this girl, the destitute Madeline; daughter of the Van Rowens, his sworn enemies.

Through their fights, their  ‘love making’, Maddy finding out the truth about Ethan and her mother, cholera epidemic in France, which almost claimed Maddy’s life, losing her baby and meeting Fiona, Ethan’s mother, the book ends in a fairytale-like happily ever after, with their bairnes all around them.

I enjoyed this book, Ethan’s Scottish ‘accent’ and his lapse into Gaelic swears and curses, Maddy’s French lilts, their kisses, their love-making, their fights, their sacrifices for each other. *sigh, I’m such a hopeless romantic*

Yeah, I recommend this one to fellow romantics. I would give this one a six out of ten.

Book 3: The first book you see in a bookstore – So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

So I did not see this book in a book store, but I stumbled upon it in my soft copies novels library.



 I do not know what drew me to it, but I found myself ‘eating’ greedily through the pages immediately after finishing my second book.

So Yesterday. A book about the latest fashion, cool hunting and chasing trends. I found it a little ‘silly’ or kinda shallow but the funny thing is, I could not put it down. Has the appeal of pink gum, it does not satisfy your hunger but you keep chewing, savoring that saccharine, chewing and swallowing, but no filling.

 The protagonist is a young ‘cool hunter’ named Hunter, son of an epidemiologist and a perfume designer. He gets paid for cool hunting with pairs of shoes and a single day in his cool hunting life, he meets Jen, an ‘innovator’ whose shoelaces catch hunter’s eye from the on start.

 Hunter and Jen, throughout the book are set out to solve a suspected ‘kidnapping mystery. Here the book has a shadow of a thriller, the danger Hunter and Jen get into as they tried to fund the missing woman.

May be I identified with Hunter because of his love for shoes. I love shoes and I collect and hoard them, they seem to call out to me the same way the bootleg shoes called out to Hunter and Jen forcing Jen to go through the pile of burning shoes to retrieve the untouched one.

 I would give this book a 4 out of 10, felt really tepid to the palate though I learnt one or two (or slightly more) from it. Would recommend it to primary school children, if we censor the kissing scenes (very few though).

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book 2: A book about a culture you are unfamiliar with - The Godfather - Mario Puzo

The Godfather, I really loved this one. I read the book after watching the film and understood it better.

Mario Puzo’s book outlines the story of a fictitious Mafia family based in New York City headed by the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone.
It covers Vito’s childhood life in Sicily, in America and how he rose to be a powerful and respected Mafia boss. It also covers the lives of his children, Fredo, Sonny, Mikey and Connie and their own relationships and families.

The irony of the story is in how Mikey, who wanted nothing to do with his father’s business ended up being the next Don after Vito’s death and Sonny, who was ready to take over was killed in the craziest of ways.

I fell in love with Santoni ‘Sonny’ Corleone and the way he was killed made me sad (I tend to get attached to book characters) and i felt for his sidey, the heartbreak she went through after Sonny’s death. It was kinda good that the Corleone family helped up, gave her a job which later allowed her to meet with the man she was to eventually settle down with. 

Puzo made me fall in love with Italian crime books and Mafia stories and led me to start watching The Sopranos. The description of the beauty of Sicily made me actually want to visit it one day when the universe hears me but then the fear of how people have been killed and made to flee their homes…hmmmm. 

 The Godfather is an excellent book, I would not do justice to it by reviewing and all, I would just recommend it. Read it, you will love it, a lot.

Book 1: A book set in Europe - Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights. An intense love story. A story heavy with the theme of death. And revenge.



It took me ages to convince myself to read the book, and when I eventually decided to, I was pleasantly surprised.

The story follows the life of Heathcliff, adopted into the Earnshaw family, how he runs away as a young man to return rich and educated, to revenge on the Earnshaw and Linton families, he thought had wronged him.

The heavy theme of death and the changing of seasons marked the passing of time and the changing of lives and things at the Heights and the Grange.

There is the senior Earnshaws’ death, Catherine Earnshaw Linton’s death, Hindley Earnshaw’s death, Isabella Linton Heathcliff’s death, Edgar Linton’s death, Linton Heathcliff’s death and Heathcliff’s death.


It seems like Heathcliff’s own death restored order at the Wuthering Heights, allowing Catherine Linton, daughter of Catherine Earnshaw Linton and Hareton Earnshaw, son of Hindley Earnshaw (Catherine Earnshaw Linton’s brother) to be free and happy and enjoy what rightfully belonged to them.

Catherine Earnshaw Linton and Heathcliff, who could not be lovers when they were alive, seemed to have reunited in death, as suggested by the ghosts of the two seen by the people in the community. Towards the end of the book, there is a small boy in the moors, with a sheep and two lambs, who was crying terribly and the lambs were skittish and would not be guided. The boy said he had seen Mr Heathcliff and a woman (Catherine Earnshaw Linton).

Joseph, one of the servants at the Heights was to remain at the Heights, using the kitchen whilst the rest of the house was to be shut down, to be ‘inhabited’ by the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw Linton.

Catherine Linton Heathcliff and Hareton were to move to Thrushcross Grange, which formerly belonged to the Linton Family.

The story is told through Mr Heathcliff’s tenant at Thrushcross Grange, Mr. Lockwood as well as Ms. Ellen Dean, the housekeeper at the Grange and former servant at the Wuthering Heights when the senior Earnshaws were alive and then at the Grange when Catherine Earnshaw Linton married Edgar Linton.

The ending of the book made me both sad and happy. Heathcliff dying was a little sad, dying alone, refusing to have a church minister coming for him and not having the whole community to come mourn and bury him. I was happy that the two young lovers were now free from Heathcliff’s grip and could be happy and claim their positions as the rightful master and mistress of the house.