Harare By Tony Hawkins
On December 3, Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda switched on the Christmas lights in Africa Unity Square, Harare. With luck there will be enough power to keep them illuminated through the festive season.
The annual Christmas rush began on Friday for those working in the cities and wanting to join families in rural areas. Absolute chaos usually ensues in the city bus terminals as commuters jostle to get seats, carrying their Christmas contributions – sugar, rice, nyimo beans, mealie meal, biscuits, sweets and possibly even a live chicken.
Christmas will be celebrated in diverse ways. In a country where three quarters of the population live in extreme poverty, many of the rural poor will be fortunate to have a meal of chicken and rice orsadza, cooked corn meal; the not so poor might slaughter a goat. After the meal, men will drink home-brewed beer or walk to the nearest beer hall to drink Chibuku and discuss politics. Women will remain at home and bemoan the fact that there will be little money left for food.
Urban, middle class families, both black and white, will celebrate much as their English counterparts do – they will have a roast dinner with all the trimmings despite the humidity and heat, along with a good South African wine. Those without gas or generators will have thebraai(barbecue) ready. For some abraaiaround the pool with steak andboereworsand supplies of beer would be their preference in any case.
Our family escape to a lodge in Nyanga where we will climb the rock called Rupurara early on Christmas morning to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Others commune with nature in national and private parks throughout the country, from hill walking in Chimanimani to white water rafting at Victoria Falls.