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Congratulations, You’re Now an Adult

So you turned sixteen and thought you were grown but at the time your parents didn’t take you seriously. Neither did anyone else, as it happened so you bided your time and waited for your eighteenth birthday, then your twenty-first and you thought you’d arrived. sadly, you hadn’t.  It wasn’t until you went out on your own and dis

As the adage goes, it doesn’t take a lot to sire a child but it does take a lot to be a father (or something like that). Conversely, it doesn’t take a whole lot to grow up but it does take a lot to be an adult and now that you’ve arrived at the wonderful stage of adulting you wonder why it was that you were in such a hurry to grow up and you feel cheated out of your youth. Don’t worry, you’re not alone and while it may seem that way there are thousands of other twenty-somethings going through the same torture as you are. What torture, you ask. Well, keep reading to find out.

Public Holidays

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When you were five years old and still going to pre-school, you didn’t understand what all the craze around public holidays (or any other kind of holidays) was. You rose before the alarm, made a whole lot of noise for your parents and because preschool was just as exciting as staying at home and playing with your siblings, you had a profound love for weekdays.

Nowadays, things have changed, you get excited about Independence Day, May Day, Easter and all the rest of them. This is not because you want to go kumusha and plant maize like your parents or even go to the movies like you would have done back when you were in high school and still a cool kid. No. You just want a chance to lie in for an hour, catch up on some ironing and maybe even watch the news. In short, you’ve turned into your mother.

You’re Attracted to Different Kinds of Men

When you were in high school, you had a crush on a guy named Jason. He played rugby, had a cool accent (this was before woke was in) and released a mixtape ever few weeks. He was light skinned (again, this was before Generation Woke) and looked like Boris Kodjoe. You liked this guy for his swag.

Nowadays, you have a different sort of crush. He wears a suit and is gainfully employed. Whilst the phrase “gainfully employed” doesn’t sound remotely attractive, you’ve reached that age where all your friends are married, engaged or even getting divorced. Jason is still too cool for school and whilst you think he’s still handsome, you’re now old enough to know that Looks and Potential don’t pay any bills.

Money Matters

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Back when you were six years old and still a spoilt brat, you believed that your parents had money. Lots of it. You hadn’t studied finance, commerce or economics yet and so you genuinely believed that your parents were being unbelievable cruel whenever you went to OK to do shopping and you cried, howled and wept for sweets and chocolates whilst your mother shook her head and muttered something like, “handina mari.” If she didn’t have money, then what was she using to buy the mielie meal and the cooking oil?

As you grew older this fight turned into something different, your parents would bargain with roadside vendors and boutique owners for bargains on just about everything. At this stage, you were sixteen and embarrassed. Why couldn’t they just be like other folks and shop at Bon Marche and actually buy things for the correct price? Why did they insist on telling everyone that they were broke? Did they not know that it killed what little swag you had?

Now that you have an eight to five and earn your own coins, you fully understand the struggle. Not only have you adopted the same bargaining tactics that you were ashamed of in your high school days, you’ve even created strategies of your own because now you appreciate the value of words like salary bonus and overtime.

 

And that’s it, kids! If you were nodding your head furiously as you read this then chances are, you’ve become an adult. Be a great sport by sharing your own #adulting struggles in the comment section or sharing this post with your friends.

 

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Unexpected (A Love Story)

I don’t usually post short fiction on my blog but I wrote this specifically for a Valentine’s Day Competition and I thought I’d share it here since it wasn’t chosen. Enjoy.

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7 pm don’t forget

I giggle as the text chimes into my phone, scrolling through the messages preceding it:

I’m throwing a small party nyana at my place, Wednesday night, hope you come thru.

PS, bring ur friends if ur shy 😉

 

Would I miss it for the world?  Not a chance. I remember showing the texts to Wadzanai and Ethel, a wave of excitement pulsing through my body – finally a guy had noticed me and was asking me to hang out with him… on Valentine’s Day, no less. It can only mean one thing: this year I’ll finally find happiness.

My friends give each other the look. It lasts a second but I see it. I imagine it is a look of relief: Chenai is no longer our charity case. They’ve never said as much but I know it bothers Ethel whenever I have to tag along on her dates and how Wadzanai always has to lend me clothes whenever we go out.

Grateful for friends and the amazing college experience, I submit my face to Wadzanai’s makeup ministrations and my hair to Ethel’s curling irons, before we all head downstairs to the parking lot where we tumble into Wadzanai’s Polo.

 

The minute we walk into Jabu’s studio apartment, I want to bolt out. Everyone here looks so chic, so put together and, standing next to Ethel and Wadzanai, I feel every bit the awkward girl who trips on her own feet. I’m the Michelle of this girl band.

I’m reminded that I was raised by a man whose idea of keeping the boys away was to drive me to the barber every other Saturday and pay for a chiskop and a mother who passed away before she could explain to my dad that knee length jean skirts may have been cute in the nineties but the only thing they now attract is laughter and bullying.

We make eye contact, Jabu and I and I don’t feel so guache anymore because, well, if I were that bad then the cutest guy I know wouldn’t be disengaging from a gaggle of slay queen to walk over to me now would he? The room has a few red decorations in it, nothing over the top, but I know in my heart of hearts – I’ll be Jabu’s girl before the night is over.

 

“Glad you could make it, Chen,” he whispers, drawing me into a hug that smells of Old Spice and happily ever after. It ends way too quickly as he gives Ethel a cursory nod, remaking he’s glad I brought my friends along.

He pulls Wadzanai in for a hug and whispers something intimate which neither Ethel nor I can hear. She giggles a little before blushing. He doesn’t let go of her. Ethel doesn’t look surprised.

I get the message loud and clear: Bring ur friends if ur shy 😉

 

I should have figured it out. Every time I caught him staring at me in the lecture theatre, Wadzanai and I were sitting side by side and when I told her Jabulani had not only spoken to me but asked for my number as well, her face had faltered for a while before she’d smiled and said she was happy for me. Had I imagined it?

Woodenly, I walk outside into the harshly lit corridor and sit on the stairs. That’s the only good thing about being a wallflower — you can book out of entire conversations and no one will notice.

“Already bored?” A voice comes at me from the darkness and its all I can do to stop myself from jumping out of my skin.

“You scared me!”

“Sorry. I’m Paul.”

I shake Paul’s extended hand and try to place the short dreadlocks and tall frame. I might have seen him once or twice but he’s unassuming and I could have had a whole conversation with him and forgotten all about it.

 

I motion toward the Nikon camera dangling from his neck and he sits beside me  and starts scrolling through the shots he’s taken tonight: smiling faces, people taking shots and laughing… there’s even a shot of night sky.

“These are really good,” I tell him, “you could go pro.”

He shrugs, a little embarrassed but keeps scrolling through shots until he lands on a series of pictures of me. First, looking shy the minute I stepped in, then happily smiling at Jabu,  and lastly, mingled shock and horror when Jabu macks on Wadzanai.

“You have an expressive face,” Paul says.

“I look like I’m in a calculus exam,” I say, trying to dispel the awkwardness that’s built a wall between us.

“You really see me, don’t you?” I’m not sure where these words come from but they’re out of my mouth before I can process them. He nods.

“How long?”

“I, I’ve had a crush on you since the day you helped an old woman with her groceries in Checkers. Everyone stood by when she dropped her shopping bag but you bent down and helped her,” he says. I stare at him for a long time.

“That must have been a year ago,” I whisper.

He scrolls through more pictures until he finds one of me, bent down in a busy supermarket, helping a stooped old lady. Even with my short hair and no makeup, I look radiant. That was before my “makeover.” Paul sees me.

He gets up, powers his camera down then extends his hand nervously toward me, “how about I take you out on a date?”

I think about my jacket still being in Wadzanai’s car and the fact that I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life but then I remember that this was the year I was finally meant to find love so what if it isn’t with Jabu? As my father always says, you always get what you deserve but never what you expect.

I put my hand in Paul’s and pull myself up to standing.

“Sure,” I say, “why not?”

 

How to run an [un]succesful Zimbabwean business

***Warning: 100% Satire Content***

The era of the SME is upon us and as such everyone should have a profitable business. Although I don’t own a business myself, I have observed that the following practices may enhance the profitability of your business:

1. Appoint your relatives to key positions in the company

Blood is thicker than qualifications – Zimbabwean Proverb

My dear friend, please be mindful of your life. Always be aware that if you insert non relatives (vatorwa) into key positions at your SME, they will wake up one day and steal your company in a boardroom coup so dramaful that Mfundi Vundla will be recreating it on Generations, The Legacy so fast you won’t be able to say, “royalties.”

It is your duty as a Moyo to employ other Moyos so help you God. The age/aptitude/competency of your cousins is of no relevance. Remember that it is easier to overwork and underpay your relatives as they can’t take you to labour court. Besides, even if they threaten to, you can always remind them of where they were before you took them in as most people already do.

2. Once you start making money relocate your business premises for the CBD to a suburbian area such as Mt Pleasant or Borrowdale.

The more jacarandas in this area the more suburbian the area is and the more likely you should be to move there. Although your business runs on a small profit quick return model, remember that The Gulf is not your permanent portion and always be ready to move.

An addendum to this point is to tell your shop assistants to scale their friendliness according to the wealth or lack thereof of their customers. This may seem counter intuitive but remember that the more exclusive product seems the more everyone else will want it (think of Facebook in its early days).

4. Change people’s appointments without warning and apologies

Whether or not people have other things to do with their time is not any of your concern. Do not apologise  when you change a person’s appointment from 8 am to 4 pm, it is simply their fault for not seeing it in the spirit.

5. Demand payments in hard cash

We all know that any money crisis that may or may not be in the republic is a fictional machination of Western beaureaucrats. Do not allow people to pay for things using EcoCash or any of its horrendous derivatives. In fact, state this on a piece of bond paper right above the untidy cardboard announcing, “NO RETURNS, NO REFUNDS, NO LAY-BYE.”

6. Have a non functional PA system.

Seeing as we’ve already established that appoinments can and should be changed without prior warning, we must make this system as air tight as possibles. Some secretaries/receptionists/ shop assistants don’t know how to give bad news with a straight and scary face. It is also true that most Zimbabweans are religious and detest lying. In the interests of your business and profitability it is therefore necessary to have a PA system that crackles as much as possible to avoid embarassing explanations.

For example, one person may announce, “ladies and gentlemen we are regretful to announce that our product is unavailabe because one of our incompetent clerks who was hired during a spate of nepotism forgot to place the order”

That will not result in disgruntled customers but will also result in a firing. With the benefits of a broken PA system however, all your customers will hear is, “ladies and gentlemen, *crackle crackle* we are regretful *crackle crackle* thank you for your patience.”

Now, your ladies and gentlemen will be too shy to ask you to repeat yourself because they don’t want people to think they’re not sharp so you’ll get away with this one.

 

Now finally brethren, I have one final word. All the ingredients of a successful company have been laid out before you but if your company still deigns to underperform, feel free to  blame it on all the people in your village who are jealous of you and abeg not on the economy, on demand/supply projections or even on this article. Siyabonga, tatenda.

For the returning expat

Years ago, you said you were leaving. Times were tough and you needed to think of your children, your career so you hopped on the first flight to England (Australia, America, Canada) or was it the first bus to Jo’burg (Namibia, Botswana, Zambia). PS. beore you’re outchea telling me that it’s the UK and not England/London, first correct the 16.5 million strong Zimbabwean population that insists on using this nomenclature.

Now where was I? You left and said you’d come back now now or rather you left and said you were never coming back, that you’d marry the first citizen and apply for spousal rights forthwith. The important thing is that you’re back or at least you’re coming back. Now it doesn’t matter whether you came back for altruistic and patriotic reasons or you were deported, Customs and Excise does not discriminate. In the interests of all things good I shall give you one or two tips on returning to make the transition smooth for you.

Start meditating

You’ve returned to power cuts and queues. To make matters worse, you can’t deposit money at the ATM or complete half the transactions you used to complete online. Spur breakfast doesn’t cost R29.99 and you can’t afford half the stuff you could afford when you lived in a different country. For the sake of your blood pressure start meditating. Preferably today.

Bring something for all your relatives

Even if you can’t afford to, even if you go into debt in the process. How dare you go all the way across the Indian Ocean/ Limpopo River and come back without a single thing for your mother, father, cousin and random uncle who lived next door to your grandmother in the village? This is what happens when there’s too much Englishness. (If you don’t know what Englishness is, kindly refer to Nervous Conditions).

Get used to slow service

Now, you keep complaining that people who work at SMEs (Shumba and Museyamwa Enterprises) offer slow service and you miss X Bank that you worked with when you were back in the States. Let me remind you that the poor lady at the counter probably attended a nhamo this weekend where she was the chief muroora and, as such, performed all the labour. In addition, she probably has to  perform 5000 wifely duties before coming to work to answer your irritating queries about whatever it is you’re asking for but did you think about that before? No, you only think of yourself.

Get used to potholes

This is non negotiable. Especially if you live anywhere near Arcturus Road. Matter fact, get yourself a PhD in defensive driving especially now that you share a road with them kombi drivers.

Carry entertainment wherever you go

Whether its your iPad or a book, y’all gon’ need something to do when you standing in the bank queue (even if you’re just here to make an enquiry), the Zesa payment queue or even just waiting to see the manager at a company.

Dress like people will comment on your clothing

Because they will. Remember that now that we’re in Zim. Shorts, short skirts and everything else that doesn’t fall into the Puritanical Dress Code is haram. If you don’t have a copy of the Puritanical Dress Code, simply watch reruns of Gringo then dress like Mai Gweshegweshe. Also note that if you have dreadlocks, people will assume that you’re not decent and/or that you have a latent ganja addiction. You’ve been warned.

Everyone is your relative

On the cold streets of Rugby (or wherever it is you were), you hardly had any friends wezhira. You got used to it. Now random people call you Mainini/Maiguru or Khule/Tsano and your system doesn’t know how to react to it. Take it in your stride and remember that you’re now free to speak your mother tongue and refer to everyone as your relative.

That’s about it for now. Feel free to add your comments below and in the words of Mace, “welcome back!”

Issa Wedding Day!

The month of Ah-ghast is upon us! For my Zimbabwean compatriots, this means wedding season for two reasons:

(1) it is warm enough to wear a wedding dress without having to wear a jacket on top

(2) all the kids are on holiday meaning that you will have flower girls and other such young accessories in your wedding party.

Here are various tips to get you through the month whether you are getting married or not:
1 Attend as many weddings as possible
This is an opportunity for you to meet as many of your relatives, and to copy as many decorations and “steps” as possible but mostly it is so that people can one day attend your wedding. Your parents may not admit to it but they subscribe to a strange type of karma, “he who doesn’t attend the weddings of others doesn’t deserve to have their wedding attended.”

2 Don’t try to be fancy with your menu
As Zimbabweans it is normal to have rice and chicken and sadza and beef stew (all in one plate) as the main course and mabhodhoro eko-kora as the official drink. Some of you children of today have decided that it is beneath you and have decided to prepare things like salmon and other Western things. Relatives and friends (hama neshamwari) let us remember that our uncles from kumusha have come all the way to Harare to attend our special days, how dare we begrudge them of sadza, do you not know that there is no other food that is sufficiently filling? However, these same people eat sadza all the time so you must at least add the rice and chicken, they did come all the way…

3 Accept that your wedding day is not really “your day”
We have all lied to ourselves by watching Western tv and telling ourselves that our wedding days are our day to shine. That is a lie. If you are a cynic like me you will know that weddings cost money and most newlyweds don’t have a lot of money 😦 The great financial responsibility therefore weighs on either the bride or groom’s family. It is time to accept that your mother in law will be paying for your wedding dress and therefore she will be the one who gets to decide whether you walk down the aisle in a strapless dress or a princess style dress, remember that her mom in law probably did the same and she is using this opportunity to either exact vengeance or live vicariously through you. If you want things to go well for you, submit to the process!

4 Vanyarikani
If you are an usher/food server/ MC, remember that there will be at least one person who wants wants to be served first because they are the bride’s uncle’s cousin’s cousin’s brother (I don’t get it either). For the sake of your own sanity, this person is probably not related to the bride at all, or the groom for that matter. A simple test is to look at the sitting plan – the bride and groom’s immediate families are usually located next to “the high table” and the madzisekuru will also be sitting close by.

5 Know the difference between a wedding and a muchato
According to my dear father, a wedding consists of enough food, a smooth running “program” and general comfort, whilst a muchato is characterised by the opposite. Please be sure which event you’ll be attending before you go. For instance, at a muchato there might not be enough seats, therefore take your zambia with you as you might be asked to give up your seat to an adult. I know that this is confusing as you think you’re already an
adult, never worry, I will explain this to you – you are only an adult once you are married, no matter how old you are.

6 Don’t hit on a girl at a wedding
Again, I say, some of you have been ruined by Western TV, this business of meeting girls at a wedding is not your portion. You’ve spotted the girl and you make eye contact – she’s pretty and she’s smiling at you and so you think, what the hell, time to turn my swag on. What you haven’t remembered is that Zimbo weddings are usually family affairs, therefore the guy sitting beside her is not her friend, he is her father, brother, cousin or
uncle. Are you sure you want to start that drama? The poor girl will probably feel embarrassed at best or get grounded at worst. Please (I beg) keep your affections to yourself.

Other than these few suggestions, I encourage you to attend as many weddings as possible, who knows, you might even enjoy the rice/chicken/sadza/beef and dance to some Tongai Moyo with your long lost cousins!