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Archive for June, 2011


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Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

A few days ago I was stopped at a police roadblock on my way home. While the officer was writing my ticket, he commented,

‘Ah sisi munogona kunosa.’ (not a nice way of saying you speak Shona with an accent)

Then he proceeded to try and get my phone number.

I have never been black enough. When I was very young my family conducted a roora ceremony for my aunt and we all moved kumusha for a week. Not having any other girls my age to play with, and having been shooed away from the cooking fire whenever the older women wanted to talk about men too many times to keep trying, I spent much of my time indoors reading. One day my older cousin recited Roses are red, violets are blue, you brother and me are black, but what are you?’

It was over twenty years ago, and I was half way through primary school at the time, but it was cruel.

I’ve never really liked that cousin since then.

When I first returned from the Diaspora, relatives would ask my mother if I still spoke Shona and observed our traditions. The implication being that I was no longer one of them.

‘Handiye apfugama achimuoberayi zakanaka?’ (Isn’t she the one who knelt and greeted you properly?) My mother would reply.

Later, I dated a man whose mother objected to our relationship because I was too privileged to be a ‘good African woman’. Her assumption was that because I had grown up kuma ‘dale-dale’, had attended private school, and lived outside Zimbabwe briefly, I was too ‘sala’ to qualify as such. Once in a heated conversation she asked him

‘Kamusalad kako kanombogona kubika sadza here?’ (Does your salad girlfriend even know how to cook sadza?)

I am not alone, there a few born-frees out there who grew up much the same way I did. Criticisms of the born-free generation are not all equal. For those who grew up in the middle class, and are perceived to have been granted access to privilege and lost their culture and language in the process, it holds a particular disdain. There are times when we are faced with the difficult choice of either embracing our otherness, or apologizing for the way we were raised.

I don’t believe in apologizing for the way my parents raised me. Especially to anyone who’s view of tradition, culture and history is narrowly defined in terms of where in Harare I grew up, how I speak Shona, and whether I cook or eat sadza. There is more to us than that, and it’s a shame that those who are loudest in defining our cultural identity believe that those things constitute the totality of who we are.  I think that is a very simple minded reduction of a complex culture, and a language that is steeped in a rich history. What I, and others like me, are judged for is not our acculturation, but rather that person’s lack of access to privilege.

What’s happened to business zoning laws?

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Thursday, June 30th, 2011 by Bev Clark

Just wondering about Harare’s very weird business zoning laws. Remember back in the day when you had to be in a designated business area if you wanted to operate a business? No more. Imagine the poor suckers who own a house next to Paula’s Place, the re visioned Caiscais Restaurant. Paula’s is situated next to residential properties on Samora Machel Avenue in Eastlea. Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t relish living next door to a restaurant that’s going to have countless cars coming and going, the noise of happy go lucky patrons and the smell and sizzle of countless peri peri chickens on the grill. Isn’t it time that the City of Harare showed some sense when it comes to issuing (if they actually do) permits to businesses operating in residential areas? It’s an indictment on how many people don’t want to go into our city centre anymore. That’s where many of our restaurants used to be.

Zimbabweans will sell anything

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Wednesday, June 29th, 2011 by Bev Clark

I was having a coffee this morning in the garden of a cafe in Avondale. I noticed a man walk through the gate with a presidential portrait tucked under each arm. Mugabe moving sideways through the garden; gave me a bit of shock. He went into the cafe and came out a little while later still carrying both portraits. I gathered he was going door to door on an enterprising income-generating mission. You’ve heard of encyclopaedia salesmen. Well here in Zimbabwe we’ve got presidential portrait salesmen. His luck must have picked up though because later I saw him running across Second Street to catch a kombi. This time he was one portrait down.

Rituals fundraising show cancelled

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Amanda Atwood

Please note that the Rituals fundrasising performance scheduled for 29 June has been cancelled, according to this statement from Rooftop Promotions:

Please note from the message below that the Rituals Fundraising Show scheduled for the British Council 29 June has been cancelled and we will be approaching potential funders individually.

We are better than this

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

I was distressed to read about ZANU PF youth who laid siege to the Minister of Finance’s office, apparently with the aid of the Zimbabwean police. What is worse is that one of the youths was heard in conversation with Webster Shamu, who is reported as attempting to call off the youths after presumably sending them there in the first place. The implication that politicians are ordering these youths to attack to further their political interest is not surprising.

Recently, I interviewed Grace Chirenje, who is a passionate advocate for young people and in particular young women.  This is what she had to say about the youth being used as a political tool:

I can’t blame the politicians. Imagine if the youth said no, enough is enough we will not allow ourselves to be used to perpetrate violence, we will not allow ourselves to be engaged only during elections. No one has ever approached the youth and said, there’s a crisis in this country, what do you think? I think the youth should begin to say no, we will not allow ourselves to be used by politicians. After the violence they still remain as neighbours, brothers and colleagues.  I think we need to begin to define our role as young people.

What continues to vex me is that the youth allow themselves to be used. What makes me angry is that it paints a picture of my country, my countrymen and my generation that shows us to be ignorant political tools unable to think for ourselves.

We are better than this.

Rhodes Scholarship Zimbabwe

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Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Bev Clark

Rhodes Scholarship Zimbabwe
Deadline: 12 August 2011

The Rhodes trustees offer two scholarships for the year 2011 tenable at Oxford University from October 2012. The Scholarships may be held for three years but awards are made for two years in the first instance. A Rhodes Scholar will receive a monthly stipend of £977 over the duration of his/her course as a personal allowance in addition to his/her university or college fees. Tenure of other awards in conjunction with a Rhodes Scholarship is not permitted without prior consultation with the Secretary of the Trust.

(a)    Must be residents of Zimbabwe with at least five years residence in the last ten years;
(b)    Must be between the ages of 19 and 25 at the 1st October 2012;
(c)    Must have achieved academic standing sufficiently advanced to ensure completion of a Bachelor’s degree before the 1st of October 2012. Accordingly, the scholarship is only available to students who have successfully completed their first degree.

Full details for the Rhodes Scholarship for Zimbabwe for 2012, including eligibility, criteria and information on how to apply is available on the Rhodes Trust website

Where possible you are encouraged to apply on-line as indicated on the Rhodes Trust website. This makes for easier processing of your application. Alternatively, you can seek guidance by contacting:

The Secretary, Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, CH665, Chisipite, Harare, Zimbabwe.
Email: Rhodes.selection.zimbabwe [at] gmail [dot] com
Tel no. Harare 790585 or 790751