Zimbabwe (This Flag)

 

From a distance you could hear the sound of the large ,rusty, school bell ringing, a sign that school was starting. Everyone was required to be at the assembly point by the time the bell stopped ringing. As we gathered at the assembly point of Dendera Primary school in Mudzi (that was around 1997- 1998) every pupil made sure they were standing in the correct class row in a straight line, quietly and composed. Immediately we would be led to sing Simudzai Mureza weZimbabwe while the head boy mounted the ragged, tattered, torn Zimbabwean flag. It is only now that it dawned to me that the state of this flag was a significant sign of the tattered future of Zimbabwe that was to come….

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Revisiting my childhood school in 2015

Even though we would be shivering, stood there like the armed forces with our hands placed straight and side to side, we would belt out this Zimbabwean National Anthem melodiously with pride and zeal. It did not matter that some of the pupils had slept on an empty stomach the night before, it did not matter that 40% of the pupils did not have jerseys or school jumpers on, because their parents could not afford them, it never mattered that 30% of the pupils came to school barefooted and would still visit the pit latrines that we had at the school, that were so wet, soiled and stank worse than a garbage place. Everyone still sang with pride and hope that things were going to be better in Zimbabwe.

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The tattered torn Zimbabwean flag

Sadly to say nothing ever changed, things fell apart even further… Fast forward to 2008

Around 2008-2009, I was working at a certain surgery in one of the popular towns here in the UK. Things had begun to get worse back home in Zimbabwe, the Bearer Cheques had been introduced fazing out the Zimbabwean dollar that had long lost its value.

During that time it was difficult to watch the news on the television as each time the news come up, the headlines about the Zimbabwean crisis were aired without fail.

I remember vividly one lunchtime at work, everyone was seated enjoying their lunch when the news came up. They reported about the terrible situation in Zimbabwe and how the economy was going downhill rapidly. Particular clips showed how people were standing in very long queues, queuing for food and cars queuing for fuel. Though there were large ques, the shelves were empty infact they were bare with a few packets of soap or maputi. I remember how everyone in that staff room that afternoon stopped talking and stared back and forth from the telly to me then back to the telly. No one was able to pass a comment as if they knew what was going on in my heart and in my mind.
I instantly got up and walked out of the staff room. I cried so much that my eyes were swollen. My heart was broken……

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2008, empty supermarket shelves

Things got even worse the couple of weeks that followed. You could send money to family but they could not collect it and even if they collect it there was nothing to buy because there was nothing in the shops.
People were doing cross border to South Africa or Botswana to buy groceries.It was one of the worst years in the history of the Zimbabwean economy.

It’s been 8-9years since but things have not taken shape. We thank God for the dollarisation, the shops are now full and you can buy the whole shop if you wanted. But again the dollar itself is really difficult to get hold of. No employment, such that many have turned to selling fruit & vegetable or whatever that is sellable. Young boys and girls who should be in school are seen loitering in the capital city selling bottled water, crisps and drinks. Many women have turned to other unsafe ways of earning money so they are able to take care of their families and to put their children through education. Families have dispersed, parents leaving very young children with other relatives or grandparents to go abroad or across the boarders to look for jobs. It is not easy to live away from your children, even the money we seek, will it be enough to equate to the moments we as parents miss out on, in our children’s childhood years? For how long Lord, for how long?
Hospitals are now just buildings with names, most of them have dilapidated, no medication and if you find it, it costs an arm and a leg. You have to buy oxygen and blood which are very costly such that the majority of the population cannot afford it.Hospitals are now left with rusty springy beds and at times no blankets to cover the patients with. Most of the hospital workers still turn up for work even though at times they do not get paid on time.

A certain businessman was opening up a very large supermarket in one of the biggest towns in Zimbabwe. It happened that we knew him and passed by to see him on one of our visits to Zimbabwe. As we were talking the wife explained to us, how they had received hundreds upon hundreds of applications for the supermarket jobs that they had not been advertised as yet. Apparently among those hundreds, where many CVs of highly qualified people, some with Masters degrees and PhDs but were still applying for till operating jobs. It is sad to think, that one struggles for years to be academically equipped just to never find the job that they trained for.

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She said those who applied for till operating jobs were highly qualified

The struggle has been ongoing for years, tears have streamed down our cheeks with hearts full of lost hope and sorrow. We have prayed, churches have gathered seeking God for change but nothing seem to have shifted. The pain is deep, the wounds seem to remain fresh, the hearts of many are troubled. So many questions with no one to answer…..All we want is a Better Zimbabwe. Dear Lord, will you see this flag? Will you turn your back forever on this nation?Will you hear our cry?

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