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Just when you weren’t expecting a pick up line

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Walking through town the other day, a friend and I thought twice before taking the road that goes in back of State House. You know the one – up past the Harare Sports Club and Royal Harare Golf Club on the one side, and past the camouflage-wearing, gun-toting, State House-guarding soldiers on the other. We didn’t have ID on us, and the stories of people getting harassed on that road by officious guards are countless.

But we took a deep breath, and in the interest of claiming our freedom and refusing to bow to intimidation or self-censorship we carried on.

We were nearly out of the woods when a soldier – yes complete with camouflage, helmet,  and bayonet readied gun, called to us across the road -

Armed soldier in camouflage: Hello.
Me: Hello.
Armed soldier in camouflage: How is the morning?
Me: Good thanks, how’s yours?
Armed soldier in camouflage: How is the day?
Me: Good thanks, how’s yours?
Armed soldier in camouflage: Can I have your number?
Me: [Silence]
Armed soldier in camouflage: I need to phone you.
Me: [Turns to face him with a puzzled expression]
Armed soldier in camouflage: Bahahahaha [Packs out laughing like he’s just told the best joke ever.]

Harassment, yes. But not quite the kind of harassment I’d been worried about.

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