Harare Wind

The wind is the wind. It goes where it wants. It writes what it wants. It does not sleep. Just like Harare, the city of all power in Zimbabwe. It pulsates with vigour as it weaves its way through every corner, at times chewing into itself. Maybe it’s diseased just like the city it has enveloped.

The Harare wind briefly stops. A flickering moment to ponder on forthcoming elections. Its starting point are those mini buses garishly emblazoned with the red, gold, black and green flags. Then it gathers momentum as it has done in the past elections through the time Harare was riled by escalating prices and black marketeering.

The wind itself is timeless. It remembers when this city had escaped the noose of colonialism, having politicked on the notion of collective good. But that was just a notion. Practically this city teaches hymns that celebrate the acquisition of money by hook and crook. As the wind rocks back and forth those red flags, yellow flags and green flags, it smiles at its works. A city tremendously overburdened by a cancerous nostalgia.

No-one tells the wind where to go. It heads towards the slums of  Harare, a place called Mbare. The wind likes Mbare. It whistles better past those dust-caked walls, grime-laden windows and endless corrugated iron shacks. It gasps past a small shack accommodating a family of  ten, with parents doing their thing on a squeaky bed while children fake sleep.

Mbare is the delta that spits out malcontents into Harare. It has always been a thorn in the backside of any regime, be it Ian Smith, Muzorewa or Mugabe. The wind loves it that way. This place in the eyes of the politicians is seen to exhibit toe-curling expressions of revolt. Dissent is illegal.

Mbare houses Rufaro stadium, where Bob Marley once sang ‘Liberate Zimbabwe’. The wind smells the stadium. It now reeks in stale piss and blobs of graffiti. Red, green and yellow posters. The wind weaves and hisses its way past cockerels, clenched fists and open palms ready to dish out a sharp slap.

Like anywhere else, the wind knows. Politics is a dirty game. In this part of the world, it’s never dog eat dog, that’s fair competition. It is better depicted by Goliath slaying Lazarus, the leper.

The wind alters course, heads to the house of parliament. Has parliament been dissolved? Maybe on paper. The wind is unimpressed by never-satisfied-politicians riding on a gravy train. This is an abominable sin. There is no John The Baptist to tell these politicians to repent. In fact, the voice belongs to the politicians. It is the public who must reform and listen to the voice of reason.

Four elections ago, at this very spot, the wind remembers what happened. Unrepentant protesters never yielding. Swamped by heavily armed riot police, they hailed stones at them. The police advanced, see through shields covering their bodies. A beggar sat sprawled on a street corner, unconcerned about the goings-on. The wind knew him. He always talked to the wind. The beggar took a big sip of his kachasu, a lethal strong illegal brew. This stuff, the wind also knew, was brewed along the banks of Mukuvisi river in discarded oil drums over a wood fire.

Kachasu drinkers are distinguished by their skinny, ragged appearances and black blotches all over their faces. This kachasu drinker, scraggy and bony like an elderly cockerel, his eyes panned slowly and unconcerned around the scene. The police moved like a Roman legion. Possessed. This scrawny man and a group of street kids who had guts from sniffing glue were rounded up in the process.

The wind has a friend, the sun. On that day, the sun and the wind connived. The wind calmed. The scorching sun spread its tentacles just as the protesters mushroomed from every corner of the city. The police became thin on the ground. They badly need reinforcements to cope. The wind and the sun watched, perplexed. It was not what they thought would happen.

Politicians sent in crack troops. The creme de la creme of the army. Highly trained to kill. Crack troops diabolically blitzkrieged the city, rolling past like molten magma from a volcanic crater. They pounced on their unsuspecting victims, shooting and maiming their brothers, sisters and parents. The strikes were quelled but the protesters lived to fight another day. Spectacular madness, the wind and the sun said to each other.

Back to the present, the Harare wind is now on the move. It is turning into a whirlwind. The Harare wind has no answers yet who will stand victorious in the forthcoming July elections. Again the Harare wind has no answers as to what will deliver the knockout blow?  Will it be the fist? Or will it be the slap?

Written By Bevin Magama

Storyteller and Writer