Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Lunch time in Harare

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Whereas it is common among people who work for the same organizations to share lunch hours together, a group of men working around Newlands shopping center have crafted it differently. Men from different organisations, including some vendors, gather under a tree close to the Caltex Service Station, eating and chatting.

Stories that make people laugh range from political jokes, social issues and the general teasing of each other.

Surprisingly, very few people know each other by name but the regular gatherings have developed enough trust to share information and lend each other a dollar or two. Sometimes strangers appear and their presence influences the type, and depth of stories and jokes of the day.

It is difficult to know how such a group came to be. No one really controls it. Sometimes two men just stand around and some start joining in sharing stories to while away the lunch hour. Usually people stay as long as possible not wanting to be robbed of any fun. In the end we all have to rush to our duties.

It is in these informal groups that one hears the deeper analytical thoughts of those who are usually not heard – those who are usually looked down upon in society, for example airtime vendors, and others who informally sell foot balls and fruits. Last week’s burning issue was polygamy. There was a polygamous man in the group defending his position in the face of criticism.

To understand poverty it is necessary to be among the poor and share with them thoughts and different ways of life, because in turn they open the pages of their lives to you. I am pleased to have joined this group because my perception of how people live has widened.

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