I don’t think anyone can say that Zimbabwe is awash in any kind of Christmas joviality.
Shop owners in our local shopping center – Newlands, in Harare – have made only the smallest effort at marking the festive season. Alberto, the shopping center’s resident hairdresser has had some sign writing done on his windows. There’s a caricature of him with a happy, smiling, and very round face. But in reality he’s more of a scowl these days. Truth be told everyone is pretty scratchy with each other on account of the levels of stress people are enduring related to hyper inflation, the mind numbing prices of basic commodities (as well as the mind numbing stupidity of various politicians) and the pathetic salaries that people are earning. Can you imagine junior army officers earning Z$27 000 a month? That’s about 9 packets of cat food to give you some perspective.
Meanwhile to make a small buck the vendors either hawk a variety of Christmas fruit like watermelons, mangoes and litchis or dubious looking boxes of Christmas lights.
Lately I’ve been mulling what a heterosexist world we live in. I had a small confidence crisis the other day after I realised that a book that I lent a young guy who I’ve just met has a high content of gay sex in it. But then I thought well just about everything I read is resoundingly heterosexual and I’m not (generally) offended. So what’s the Big Deal?
After my encounter with the National Endowment of Democracy and experiencing discrimination regarding the lack of support for partners of same-sex couples I decided to write to Yale University to make sure that their support of “families” for their World Fellows Programme is inclusive of relationships that don’t fit the heterosexist model. Believe it or not, they couldn’t immediately answer my question – and we look to the so-called first world as being “progressive”! Meanwhile South Africa has put many countries to shame by making sure that gay and lesbian people’s rights are protected when it comes to marriage and civil unions.
I’ve been reading so much good stuff lately. For example, Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War by Anthony Shadid. In one section he discusses how fabulous Baghdad was in the 1970′s with a bustling libertine nightlife. Back then apparently “Cairo wrote, Beirut published and Baghdad read”. I wonder what’s left for Iraqis to read these days apart from American propaganda?
I’ve got this friend in the US who keeps me supplied with lots and lots of different things to read, including torn out pages from newspapers. On one of these pages I happened to see a small article on “ladies blog for activism”. Why the use of the word “lady” I’m not too sure but anyway . . . apparently in Blogging Feminism:(Web)sites of Resistance, top bloggers Jessica Valenti (of feminist.com), Michelle Riblett and Lauren Spees (of Hollaback, Boston and New York’s website against street harassment), and Liza Sabater (of the politically charged Culture Kitchen) got together for an evening discussion on how feminists are using the Internet.
By the way, I love Hollaback’s slogan
If you can’t slap ‘em, snap ‘em!
I’m thinking of setting up a similar web site which will feature photographs of Zimbabwean men who whip their willies out to take a piss no matter where they are. Some even have the gall to make conversation with you, dick in hand, as you pass by.
And then I’ve relished The NewStatesmen from front to back, and back again. In fact the back page features a column by comedian Shazia Mirza who recounts a bit of this and that of life in London. Her opening paragraph on one of England’s hottest topics of the moment – burqas – gets my vote as one of the funniest of 2006:
A Muslim woman knocked on my door last night. I didn’t open the door – I just talked through the letter box to see how she likes it