In this part of the world, few celebrate their birthdays! Not that they do not wish to – but, it is the nature of circumstances which force them not to. In actual fact, many have been forced by the political economy not to celebrate.
Many in the dusty high density suburbs of Harare do not even give a damn on considering celebrating the day they were born. All they have to confront are the daily battles to put food on their tables. To make matters worse, the rains have been unkind to nation. We seem to be headed for another dry spell. Thus another drought is in the offing. We are indeed living in difficult times.
He took a deep pull at his cigarrete. I could see his mind was miles away. I could see the smoke swirling around him. As he exhaled the smoke through his nostrils. He then went into a deep silence. Cough….cough….cough….!! He went on coughing before, spitting a thick phlegm which seemed to be clogging his throat. As he spat on the floor, I witnessed the phlegm had some traces of mucus. He bit his chest. Showing indications of a man who had been relieved after some minutes of struggling to breathe.
One could clearly see his ribs, as he had pulled off his greasy T- shirt (a T-shirt which was once white but had turned grey in colour due to dirty) .It was a T- shirt he had received as a donation from the local M.P (after the recent Harare by-elections). The T-shirt was emblazoned with the inscription 100% Total Empowerment.
Taking from his incessant coughing, I just imagined that the smoking was taking a toll on him. After a long silence which seemed like some moments of meditation. He went to say ‘so you mean today, it’s your birthday’. ‘Yes, uncle’, I responded!
He went on to ask;
‘For Christ’s sake just explain to me, how on earth will you celebrate in such an economy?’ he gleefully queried.
His rhetorical question, indeed triggered some deep thoughts in me. The old man had a point. In an economy where everything that can go bad, has gone bad. In an economy in which many could not afford to celebrate their birthdays in style. No blowing of candles, no popping of bottles of champagne or cutting of cakes. It is an economy were the children scream and merrily shout (Yeeeeeeh magetsi adzoka; power has been brought back).
An economy punctuated with incessant power cuts. In such a country children then become so delighted after power is restored (after long hours of blackout).They celebrate as if electricity is a privilege.
It is an economy in which the little ones jubilantly celebrate when they see an aeroplane flying past their hood. Yeeeeeeh (ndege ndege…they scream and dance upon seeing an aeroplane).
Perhaps, as you plan to cook a decent meal on your birthday, you realise power is gone. It only happens in this part of the world. Not in some parts of the world! On a Day Like This!.