“A Memoir Of Birthdays And Broken Dreams”
26 September 2020
By Josiah Mucharowana- As I witnessed yet another birthday in my short life this week, I thank God and further realise I am a mere mortal.
Since 37 years ago when I escaped my mother’s womb to wander the earth, I have seen many perish from accidents, diseases or simply just from the cruel hand of inelectable fate.
Of late, coronavirus wrought irreparable damage to both humans and economies so much so that recovery back to previously lived standards remains a Herculean task.
For millions, the battle for survival has been triggered on, it’s game time! Many have lost incomes. Families have crumpled and the future has never been more uncertain than now.
People died like flies in Italy, Spain and America and elsewhere with the pandemic reaching even the most far-flung and remotest islands of the world.
In Africa, Aha! The majority of Africans had to live under war -time-like conditions of sustained lockdowns and curfews. It has been a global first where jetplanes got grounded not to traverse the skies for long. A first where home became a yearned for place to be for millions of foreigners marooned outside their countries.
Nevertheless, time waits for no man. I realised I have to be thankful to be alive. My peers and more lie motionless in cemeteries.
In this life, we have to live to our best of abilities because we only live once.
For me, many birthdays have been mere milestones of time fleeting by as I ferret for a decent life in the diaspora.
From school, the bulk of my life have been lived outside Zimbabwe. It was not by design but fate. I found myself in bustling metropolitans like Johannesburg and Pretoria. I embraced a life away from home to be the new norm.
A cursory check on my timelines and inboxes across social platforms reminded me of long lost friends. At school, in beerhalls and taverns of the world, I have forged relationships. Some became casual, some left an enduring impact on my life.
Some even shaped the trajectory I took henceforth. Some names remain etched in my memory. However, one theme ran through their messges, they all wished me well in this life.
Solace for a backyard dweller?
At 37, I have crossed national borders innumerable times both legally and illegally running away from hunger, poverty and political tyranny. In some instances I have done so with no real money in my pockets.
I have fallen sick and was taken care of by complete strangers. I have also wined and dined with Kings and Queens of the land. I have met both influential people in positions of authority and at the same time I have found common ground with the low-lifes.
I have slept in mansions and have also slept under bridges burning cardboard paper.
During Murambatsvina -a politically driven operation by Robert Mugabe to decimate and scatter the urban population to rural areas. Urbanites had incrementally voted opposition creating a bastion of rebellion politics that irked the erstwhile authorities, I found solace under the moon and the stars of Mbare.
I had a been a backyard dweller therein and Mugabe’s hatchet men had come in the morning with yellow machines and pulverized our lodgings to the ground.
My feet also took me to Hwange and Livingstone where I had the best game drives ever. I bed-hopped from hotel to hotel and ate gourmets with names I can hardly remember. I also slept in a bed that Mugabe, the Statesman had found solace in on some night.
I have also realised media people especially journalists anywwere on earth always make the best of company wherever alcohol is available. They are knowledgeable, funny, and carefree spirits the majority of whom have at least an unwritten book lurking somewhere in the cabinet of their minds. They are creatives who in the company of fellow minds would divulge as many secrets just like convicts squashed and condemned together in a prison cell.
My life took me to State House and many other esteemed government institutions opening my eyes on how the wheels of governance turn.
I have watched presidential motorcades both as an insider and as an outsider.
But for the entire life, the shock came when I realised I share the same birthday month with President Mnangangwa.
Born 78 years ago, the man has seen twice my life. He has been a guerrilla in the bushes of Mozambique and elsewhere in the region. Above all , much of his life has been in the corridors of power either as minister of Defence, State Security, Justice and as a confidante of Mugabe et al.
Today as President, he has a coterie of ‘ wingman’ aiding him much to rule than govern and lead Zimbabwe. His tenure is mottled by rampant corruption even involving his sons, close friends and relatives. In some instances, he turns a blind eye just like a ‘crocodile’ he is.
Many social services in Zimbabwe have collapsed or simply cosmetic owing to mismanagement such that majority of people are once again trekking into the diaspora leaving family and loved ones to hold forte in a dire economy.
We hear the Ministry of Health and Child Care has tightened the grip on medicineman making it very difficult for them to jump ship to greener pastures even when they are not being fully remunerated for their sweat and toil. Vice President Chiwenga and his deputies- all former military men in the ministry are slowly turning hospitals into military barracks where orders carry the day.
Reset button the answer
In Johannesburg, I have met more Zimbabwean nationals than I could meet back in my village. In Pretoria, the bulk of prostitutes and roadside beggars with babies strapped on their backs are my fellow countrymen.
I have had the luxury of a tertiary education albeit I am yet to fully reap the benefits of that education back in Zimbabwe. Not that the tertiary syllabi concentrates on producing employees but even as entrepreneur, the economy is on the skids to start with.
It takes heavy capital injection and the patience of a fisherman to find a way around the bureaucracy of doing business in Zimbabwe.
September has been awash with corporates everywhere wishing the President well in the future. For me it has been a time of reflection upon the journey of life thus far.
Yes admittedly, i have not achieved all I had sought to do in the vibrancy of youth. 37 years have become a bolouvard of broken dreams.
And quite sadly, my life mirrors millions of others scattered across the globe with eyes pinned on Zimbabwe, our birthplace in the hope that one day, maybe one day the fortunes of the country might allow a comeback.
Bob Marley said, he who fights and runs away will live to fight another day. But for as long as the ‘crocodile’ continue to bask in the sunshine, coming ashore is tantamount to being hoist by own petard.
For Zimbabwe as a country and it’s citizens, there has to be a reset button somewhere even when the President says ‘ there is no crisis in Zimbabwe’.
Josiah mucharowana is a media graduate and writes in his personal capacity. Feedback; [email protected]
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