A Tale of Two Cities (in one)

Harare, the sunshine city, the city that cannot afford to sleep… My home… Where the heart that beats within me is. Depending on where you are; rich city or poor city, the air is either clean and fresh, as crisp as a fresh mint leaf, or it is so rancid that it nearly chokes you, like the smell of a decayed carcass leaving its pungent legacy for those who did not honour it during its life ready to choke you with its sulphuric grasp. Harare. My home.

The dichotomy that exists in this city is marvellous to say the least… How else can one describe the huge canyon that exists between the haves and the have-not(hing)s? Where have all the middle-ground people gone to? It seems that in the months that have melted into years that I have been away from my beloved home so many have gained, while many more have lost… I dare not delve into the cause, I fear it might be political… and much as I love politics… this is not that kind of tale.

It’s amazing what time can do to a place… the vibrancy of Harare is slowly returning, but only for those who can afford… to the rest, Harare is unliveable, expensive and unbearably restrictive. Driving through town, the sights, the sounds, the smells change like a kaleidoscope… It is amazing how one city, small as it is, can have such diversity. You are rich. You are poor. You are nowhere in between. It is what it is.

Driving through Harare for the first time in a year, with my window rolled up and the aircon protecting me from the intolerable savannah heat outside I couldn’t help but wonder how the people on the other side of my window perceived me. The pedestrians looked into the car I was in, some with genuine admiration glistening in their hungry sullen eyes, others appeared to be seething with loathing… I pretended not to notice either, but I did. Something sunk in me, to this day I cannot tell what, but I checked if my door was locked anyway. I had to remind myself that these weren’t the streets of inner-city Johannesburg, that none of these people were carrying hammers or guns and chances are even though they were probably living from hand to mouth, the thought of hijacking or smashing and grabbing never crossed their minds. I did not lock my door. I felt safe. I was home.

(TBC…)

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