Tinashe Tafirenyika holds two
National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) in Spoken Word Poetry in Zimbabwe (2017, 2018) and is the first woman and youngest person to receive one. She also has a Bulawayo Arts Award (BAA) for her poetry.
“Hey, where’d you get the Cerevita?”
The girl at the fast food joint is pretty. They are letting dark skinned girls work the till these days, I think, what a time to be alive!
“OK, seven ninety-nine.”
“Oh, it’s cheaper than that other place.”
“Yeah, a bunch of stuff is cheaper there as well.”
It’s not month-end so there is no queue. We can afford this casual back and forth for all of forty seven seconds. Or maybe there is no queue because people have no money?
Two months ago it was:
“Hey, where’d you get the bread?”
Bread is more or less available now. At triple the price, but still… And the economy seems to be self-re-dollarising. There’s at least five hundred US dollars in the till at the fast food place, mainly fives and tens, a couple of ones as well. You get a 75% discount for buying using forex (another way to look at it is that you get penalised for using local bond currency, also known as ZWL or RTGS dollar. Don’t ask!)
Maybe things are getting better, re-dollarisation and all. But if they were, bond prices wouldn’t have doubled just last week. I’d say it’s difficult to tell which direction we are headed but deep down in my heart of hearts I know: We are all screwed.
I decide that I want bananas, to cancel out all the cholesterol I intend on ingesting. There’s at least three scanias along my way, all overflowing with bright, yellow nourishment that I hope will in the near future be discovered to restore damaged heart tissue seeing as I am doing very little else for my health. I wonder if these people have made any money at all today considering the containers are still full. How will they get home after this? Do they have children that need school fees? I secretly hope they dabble in illegal forex dealing to supplement their income from the vending business. That could definitely be doing much better. I pick the one closest to the rank. At forty cents a banana, it’s no wonder their scanias are still full. This is daylight robbery! Do the bananas cure cancer as well? I mutter under my breath as I hand the man a two dollar note. Very crisp, almost like it was printed just yesterday at our local reserve bank.
Fuel prices have gone up again so it takes a while to get umtshova. Across the road, ZUPCO buses are loading passengers from an orderly line. I wonder how Harare residents would feel about that. Social media suggests that one has to do all sorts of ungodly things to get out the bus in that part of the country.
The winter is creeping upon us, stealing the sun a few minutes earlier each day, the cool breeze turning into a nasty frosty thing that bites at your fingers and toes whilst you wait in a queue. Umtshova arrives. It’s nice and warm inside but the conductor keeps opening the window. Turns out this is how I die. Not heart disease from my poor dietary choices but pneumonia from an open bus window. I roll my eyes and pull my scarf up over my ears. The guy next to me smells like work. And maybe a little like booze. I decide to use the scarf to cover my nose as well. Last time it was the flag, this time it’s the scarf. . . I remember. . .Folded fists, open palms, a weird combination of both that didn’t last long, the seemingly mundane things that have different implications at different times in history. . .
I should write a poem about this, or an article-column-blog-thing. Protest poetry exhausts me lately. It feels like it’s all we ever do. And what if this is it? What if things will never get better and we live and die like this? Will we ever write about love or summer and how pretty flowers are when the morning dew kisses them? I can’t help but think about what Batsi wrote when she signed a copy of her book for me.
“To happy poems.”
I don’t know if we will ever find them.