Zimbabwe, the first trip

I am home and resting. Another eventful journey through Zimbabwe and beyond. I know most would want to know how Zimbabwe is faring. How are things on the ground and how are people coping. I have learnt some Shona of course. Pinda motor meaning get into the bus and many others. I have visited bars and wonderful places that will make a long lasting impact. I have had a chance to pay my respects to the Heroes acre in Harare where Zimbabwe’s great sons such as Joshua Mkomo and Muzenda have found a permanent home. I have seen the grave of the Country’s First Lady Sally Mugabe, who I only saw smiling and charming whenever they visited Malawi. Of course the heroes acre reminded me as Malawi we still are yet to value our history. How many of our kids know who was our First Army General. How many know the story of Gweru dreams. How many can articulate the visions of John Chilembwe, Levi Ziliro Mumba and others. They died and we lost them. The remains of Chipemebere seem will never be brought back. How many know that Chipembere was cheered while Kamuzu Banda was booed y a crowd at Zomba in 1963. How many have seen a treasured picture in my possession where Goodall Gondwe the current Financial genius Malawi has discovered was undersecretary in the Ministry of Finance and Aleke Banda was his Minister. At heroes acre in Harare you get a feel of the liberation struggle. You come to see and read the heroes that made Zimbabwe what is today. I am not going to comment on Zim politics or how people are faring. That’s for another time and place. But my adventures on return. First I bought a car in South Africa and wanted to drive it through. It broke down just two kilometers inside the Zim side of Beitbridge. I sent an SOS to some people I knew in Zimbabwe and they all failed to honour their “I will try my best” I then left for Malawi. Wow. Before I forget, the whole road from Mwanza border right into Johannesburg would make Nigerian 412 scammers kids. Police and Immigration have a field day milking motorists and more importantly poor business people along the way. You tip, bribe or simply forced “to contribute” enmasse to Immigration, Customs and even the Police for no apparent reason. The stories I heard, would scare anyone from buying a car in South Africa. Insured or not, once you drive a car without a place you have committed a sin through and through. On top is South Africa, even at toll bridges the Police will ask, “something for a drink.” Be sure you have changed money or no change will be given. At least 20 to 50 rand will ensure your speedy drive through all check points. Afterwards you have to tip the Customs to inspect your car fast. Only the immigration will not ask for anything at this point. Mostly they are women and they do a wonderful job. Cross into Zimbabwe there is no problem in all three departments at the border. Trouble starts when you reach road blocks. They smile and ask you to park the car. They inspect the documentation and then keep talking or sometimes leave you hanging until you produce something then you will be told to proceed. I feel sorry for someone who has to meet at least six roadblocks.
You proceed to Nyamapanda on you way out of Zimbabwe to Mozambique. The last time I passed there was a poor Malawian who wanted to go to Botswana. He coughed not less than 50 rand at each border except the Zobue side of Mozambique. At Chamano, on the side of Mozambique where he was exiting, he was asked to pay 50 rand to get out of the country. He politely asked me how much I had paid, I advised to go and ask the officer what the money was for. The officer allowed the poor Malawian to exit Mozambique.
I thought I had seen enough.
On my way back, I found no electricity on both sides of the border. The Zim side the officer claimed he had no match to light a candle and we quickly organized a candle. When passing through Mozambique a levy of 250 rand is charged and buses ask all passengers to contribute 20 rand. (Don’t ask me what happens when it carries 60 people)
This day it was fun. We arrived a little early past six in the evening and the border closes at 7 pm. The officers claimed they couldn’t work in the dark.
Quickly a figure was arrived at that would provide some extra light in the eyes of these officers. Each passenger was to contribute K10. Basically something like One American cent or 40 South African cents. I paid for a number of people smiled how ridiculous the amount sounded. I know some churches which have banned people from donating coins. Malawi’s ten kwacha is now a coin.
But after dumping my supposed new car at Beit Bridge, I arrived in Harare tired. I looked for food and managed to source one Lemon twist, one packet of home made pop corn and 15 pieces of chips. That was to be my food for two nights.
I woke up 5 am and rushed to Mbare bus station where State Owned ZUPCO bus takes you to Blantyre, Malawi, Beira Mozambique and Lusaka Zambia at a state approved fee of five hundred thousand Zimbabwean dollars something equivalent of three dollars or 17 South African rand. Of course Malawians, Zambians and Mozambique traveling into Harare pay 400 hundred percent higher than the fee you pay when getting out of Harare.
The bus board indicates that the Blantyre and Lusaka buses leave at 0630hrs.
As a good passenger I was at the station one and half hours early. We stayed until 14 hrs when the company remembered that it had taken money from some people to travel to Blantyre. We got into the bus and were asked to change somewhere 200 kilometres after Harare into another bus that was coming from Malawi.
My journey would end 12 hours later as we crossed into Mozambique very late and would spend a night traveling inside Mozambique to Malawi.
Now, that is a simple summary of my trip from Beit Bridge through Harare. Other topics will be addressed as time goes by. I had colleague from Malawi who were visiting Zimbabwe as official guests of the Ministry of Information. I am informed they have produced special programmes on Zimbabwe and refuting what is termed as “western media” propaganda.
I will not comment until I listen to the programmes. But my impressions would be since they were official guests of Government, they might have been traveling in “tinted” glasses in the cars.
Otherwise the situation on the ground is very clear for anyone with eyes to see.
Back to what made my day or trip wonderful.
From Harare to Mutoko where we changed buses, I had plenty of time to listen to discussions mainly by Malawians who have lived in Zimbabwe for long. We call them “Matchona” people who have over stayed.
I met a guy who claims to come from Mitundu in Lilongwe and is a guard at hero’s acre, he left Malawi in 1953 and he never corresponds back home. Then I met almost 20 young people some of whom traveling to Malawi or claiming Malawian parentage so that they can get a passport. Malawian passport in the region is the only one you don’t need a visa to go into any country.
For some unexplained reasons, it seems it is very easy for the passport to be accessed. I know Nigerians, Rwandese, Somali’s and even Pakistani’s who travel on Malawi passport. For some reason I feel those Zimbabweans feeling they are Malawian they should be given the passport at Malawi High Commission in Harare since it doesn’t matter whether in Blamtyre or Lilongwe. These people still get it. Our corrupt officers happily issuing it. What else, just give it, after all if you can give to a Nigerian, I would prefer to an honest Zimbabwean who just want to cross into South Africa.
Enough on these matters.
Back to Matchona.
An old lady somewhere between 65 to 70 and an old man between 59 and 65 all of them sounded like Matchona or of mixed citizenship. They could converse in Shona (Zimbawean) and Chichewa (Malawian) at ease.
The issues they spoke of would be of great interest to Malawians so I will carry the conversation in full Chichewa vertabim
Man: Tsopano inu kwani nkuti?
Woman: Ine kwathu kwathu nkwa nyambi, ku Machinga North west (it should be north east though)
Man: Ooh tsopano kwanu nkufupi ndi kwa Muluzi?
Woman: Ee, ife apa, a President Muluzi apa. Ndithu, bamboo. Aja ndi ntunda.
Man: Ntunda, kodi tspanpo ali kuti?
Woman: Ali ku nyumba kwawo ku Sanjika-tu! Pajatu anangoti ku wasiyila a Bingu, kuti ine Zaka ten zanga zatha, basi sidikufunanso mpando, iwo anakhala ku nyumba yawo ku Sanjika. A bingu amakhala ku Sanjika ya ku Lilongwe. Anawopa kuti eeh, numba yokhala nutnda ine nkukhalamo.
Man: Koma ndiye mukuwadziwa bwinotu?
Woman: Kodi ngati Muluzi anangobwera. Muluzitu adawayika ndi Kamuzu. Chifukwa Kamuzu anali wozama kwambiri. Ndiye Kamuzu ndi malume a Muluzi a Kapoloma amagwirizana. Kapoloma anali patali (examples edited). Ndiye Kamuzu amamukonda Muluzi.
She continues: Mudziwe kuti anapeleka dzina la Mwana Muluzi Atupele ndi Kamuzu. Mwan uyu wophunzira. Nthawi yonseyi anali kusukulu kunja, chifukwa Kamuzu anamuwuza Muluzi kuti mwanayu adzakhale President. Tsopano poti Mulizi anakhalapo President wa ma President onse mu Africa kenaka nkusiya basi pano alowe ndi Mwanayu. Mwanayu ali ndi ma digiri six ndinso MP wa kwathuku.
A Bingu zawo nawonso amaliza zaka ten ndiye kubwere Atupele.
Man: Kodi a Bingu ndi Muluzi amachokera ku modzi eti?Woman: EEtu. Ngakhale kuti wina ngwaku Machinga wina wa Ku Mulanje, Muluzi atatopa anangoti iwe ukhale. Inutu mkulu uja ndi ntunda, malume ake atha kusandusa masamba a mango kukhala ma voti. Moti Kamuzu anamutha ndi ndi Muluzi atakalamba. Mudziwenso ku Mugabe ndi Kamuzu anali nge nge nge, ndiye aja ndi wamuna simungawathe akadalipo.
Woman: Chinanso nchakuti olo mutawona nokha kuti ndi Muluzi okha anchita kupuma kuti basi wina abwelepo. A Bingo zaka ten zakwana. Pano Kukubwera Atupele, ameneyutu anampatsa zina ndi Kamuzu kuti ukhala Atupele.



I smiled widely and loved the Woman for her total confidence in her ceremony on the Former President.

I am back in Zimbabwe later in the week, I have great freinds and the spirit cannot be broken that easy. I believe whatever Zim is going through will rise again in the near future. Hope as Shaggy sings is what makes us go on everyday.

About how many hours I was lining up for food, how many kilo's one can loose, wait very soon, its coming.
By the way ever heard of the Aids web. I am developing one showing how one person can spread Aids to 200 people in six months.

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