I Cry For Home Part. 1

I hate talking about my country when I have nothing good to say. I used to actively avoid it. The last few weeks has shown me that I have probably been doing it all wrong. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine last night and there were a few things that made me upset, made me laugh and angry all at the same time. Oh yes and also confused.

Now there are a lot of issues that I want to cover and to make it easier to read I am going to split them up into a few blogs.

In any country that you live in that has a reasonably civilised government (I cannot call the current government of Zimbabwe civilised but that’s my own opinion), you can kind of see the method to their madness, they will tell you stories that are 80% true because they don’t want to burden the citizens with the truth. I think that’s better than what my government has been doing since they came into power under what I consider to be dubious circumstances on my birthday in 2017.

I am not even too sure where to start. What honestly pains me is to see how far we as a people in Zimbabwe have gone in the same direction that our “leaders” have gone in. The moral fabric that we have left in us is worrying in my opinion. We have gotten to a dog eat dog world. The levels of profiteering are beyond me. It seems that we look at the government and we are basically copying them. In some instances, I think it is justified. There are some costs that need to be passed down the line to consumers, while there are others that could be passed along more gently by retailers/service providers coming together to discuss how to manage the situation. A simple example is when the government waited until the middle of the night on a weekend to announce that the price of fuel was going up by 150%. First of all, this was a dick move because this was done in the middle of the night. In fact, a friend of mine had spent the whole day in a fuel queue, only to get to the pump just after midnight (the price hike came into effect at midnight) and was horrified to be advised that the price was $3.31 per litre of petrol. The additional $2 that was added by the government is a tax. So we have the 2% transaction tax, we have a $2 tax on fuel, we have a carbon tax…. Like what the fuck? Now we can debate whether it was right, legal or necessary another time. The fact is, fuel had to go up as it was much cheaper than the region.

The downstream effect of increasing the cost of fuel doesn’t seem like it was looked at properly. Public transport in this country is run by private individuals. Those individuals immediately increased the fares in response to the price hike. Now, this is where I feel that they could have handled the situation a little better. In a civilised country they would have come together, discussed the fuel hike, done their calculations and then possibly raised the issue with the relevant ministery to advise them about their position. The problem is, the government doesn’t regulate the public transportation guys, and a lot of other industries I might add, very well. In fact, with these public transport guys, they are essentially a law unto themselves. The government’s response is to engage private players (shock horror) to partner with the actual (defunct) public transport government parastatal. The government parastatal’s vehicles are all but grounded due to lack of maintenance and other issues.

As in their “best” practice, the government stitched up this deal without giving any details as to what was agreed between these private players and the government. The government is going to have to pay these guys for the service, and the government is going to get the money from us taxpayers, further eroding what little we earn as we will be taxed for it.

The result is that future generations are going to continue to bail out the government. They had a big drive that they said they were going with to reduce their domestic debt. At the same time, they have decided to increase their debt with this arrangement which they hastily put together. It had the desired effect of reducing the cost of transport that the cowboy private transporters. Some people are praising them for this move. I see it more as a reactionary knee jerk reaction that is going to come to a head soon and the position will still be the same.

I guess we have no other option but to simply accept what we are provided with by our government. It’s not living if we can’t find bread, fuel is frighteningly expensive, we don’t have basic services like cleaning drinking water from the taps and our roads are in a state that makes it a mission to drive around unless you have a car with high clearance. Living in this country is like being a prisoner in your own house. At the end of the day, this country does not belong to one person or an elite group of people. This country belongs to every single person born or raised here. It is our responsibility to do our best to ensure that future generations have a chance to make something of their lives. Zimbabwe was here before most of the people in this country, and after we leave it will still be here.

Let us change our mindsets about how we care for the environment, how we made it conducive for all to have a chance to be the best version of themselves, let’s change how we do business with each other, let’s move forward from the mindsets that we have been stuck in since I can remember. Our lack of togetherness about the vision we want for this country will always be our downfall. The vision isn’t some pie in the sky vision of having an underground running and high-speed trains. The vision needs to be practical and start to address the basic things that every human needs to start to survive in this crazy world we live in.

 

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Backwards or Sideways

Happy 2019 to you all. It has been a very long time since I had a chance to blog. I feel bad because it is something that I enjoy doing but haven’t had a chance to do it in a while.

Things have gotten really wild at home in the last four or so months. There was a pronouncement that made no sense made by our Minister of Finance which resulted in people losing their collective minds and suddenly charging exorbitant prices for products. Of course, none of our salaries have been adjusted and we are collectively seeing our bums. Prices in most places have more than tripled, there have been a few companies who have successfully held the govt at ransom and succeeded, however, there have been civil servants who have tried to hold the govt at ransom (most of the reasons made sense, though one of them didn’t) and they failed. It is hard to understand when our junior doctors are on strike citing unsafe working conditions in the public hospitals (no surgical gloves, medicines to name a few) they are threatened with being replaced with other doctors who are aren’t working, but when a company that produces alcohol indicates that they are going to start charging for their alcohol in real currency, the govt backflips to assist their business but doesn’t seem to do the same for our doctors. Sure we can get into arguments about the Hippocratic oath that doctors make. However, if the working conditions are not safe, then one shouldn’t work.

This surely shows that we have misplaced priorities in this country. The misplaced priorities extend further than just the govt. We as a nation of people also have very misplaced priorities. We are all suffering in our own ways, but when I spoke to some people, they were more upset about the fact that this beer producer wanted to charge in hard currency and not in the funny money we have. They seemed to be unconcerned with the fact that the public hospitals were under-capacitated in terms of staff and tools. It almost feels as the though the govt decided that if we as a nation sober up to the actual plight that we are in, the nation would descend into madness. Well, we are already deep in the madness as it is.

Unfortunately, the hole that we are in as a nation is deeper than we realise. The fact is that we do not have the forex reserves to properly operate (The reasons why we have a shortage of forex is a debate for another day.). Everytime forex comes in (be it from tobacco or gold or the mythical diamonds that we have in this country), it is used to cover a gap. The earnings we receive shouldn’t only be used to bridge gaps otherwise that’s all we will spend our time doing. It means that there is no development happening in the various industries.

Sometimes I feel like the govt is like a student. When I was a student I used to live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t earn much, but I knew that by the end of the second week of the month I was skint. What’s funny is that I actually had a specific attitude to the little money I would earn. I had two monthly expenses which I used to pay as soon as I got paid. I would pay for my monthly transport ticket (my justification was that now I could travel to university and work) and I would pay my monthly phone line rental (I could call people). After that, I would have one or two nights out with the boys and then I was screwed. I wouldn’t have money to buy myself anything nice or do anything other than going to the pub to watch football or going to a bar. For me, that was allowed because I was a student and I didn’t know any better. A govt can’t exhibit such behaviour. They aren’t a student… or are they?

Like it or not, there are many issues that need to be resolved if we are to ever go forward in this country. There are some issues that I won’t even go into because I have limited knowledge about some of the subject matters and they would need their own analysis. I do foresee the govt having a torrid time playing catch up with the private sector because they left the likes of public transport to the private sector, the setting up of the fibre network also to private players, they let a mobile money platform take over payment methods in this country without having any control over them, and the mobile network providers erect their towers around the country without having some control over it. Now before I get attacked for what seems like the singling out of a particular company, please bear in mind that these are just a few examples that came to my mind.

What is worse is that the govt has let the nation become ruled by service providers who do whatever they want, charge the prices they want to and there is no reprise for us as customers, all the while we are being to taxed to hell and back by the govt with their 2% tax. How can this be a conducive environment to live in. We have no real consumer protection other than the small groups that we have to set up ourselves. We have a crisis of confidence in the govt because they simply do what they like without consulting the people who it will affect. Sure, some may say that the govt doesn’t need to consult us and they can impose anything they like. However, buy-in from all stakeholders is required.

At the end of it all, we may say that we are in 2019 in Zimbabwe, but in reality, we are very far behind. I still believe that we require a few things if we are ever to call ourselves a proper nation:

  1. Accountability for everyone
  2. Transparency from those in positions of power
  3. The WILL to actually change the way that we have been doing things.

This year is going to be one hell of a ride. Ultimately all we can do is try and remain positive through it all, tighten the belts and be ready for anything. At the moment there is no crystal ball that can tell us where we are headed. The way I see it sideways seems to be the only direction that we are going in. Sideways might be me being optimistic. It may be a slow slide backwards

 

 

 

Seasons Greetings to All of You!!!

I hope that everyone had a good Christmas and are planning on have planned an enjoyable New Years Eve. Mine will be spent with my wonderful wife and a few friends. There will be drinking and eating and general merriment being made as we usher in a new year.

Let us go into this new year with an open heart. Let us try and continue to be grateful for what we have and not complain about what we don’t have. Let’s not look back on 2016 and compare it with 2017. The mantra should be that 2016 was not a great year. Let us strive to make 2017 more memorable, more entertaining, more adventurous and more loving that 2016 was. It is possible if we try.

To all the friends that you may or I may have parted ways with in 2016: Everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes it is a need for space, sometimes we are not good for each other, other times life gets in the way and you may be gone from sight but far from forgotten. Ultimately we have to make sure we take care of number one. We all have varying degrees of love for the people we know, but there are some people who are more of an emotional drain that an addition. We need not feel bad about the decisions we make as this is the university of life. We are forever learning.

May we strive to continue to plan plan plan. This is the first step to achieving anything we want to. I hope that everyone plans on being a better person, husband, wife, child, grandchild, grandparent, father and mother in 2017. Let’s all strive to take better care of our health, which will take care of our wealth; let us also take better care of the world we live in. There is only one planet Earth, and some may not even get to see the beauty that some of us are fortunate enough to have been given.

If I did not get a chance to see you in 2016, I will hopefully make it up to you in 2017. Be safe on the roads, in the bars, at the dinner dances and at your homes this New Years Eve.

Good Bless

Tongs & Bibi

30 Days of Sobriety

Success Kid 13092016092314.jpg
Well, today is my 30th day alcohol-free. Now I have to be a little honest and say that it wasn’t entirely 30 days of no alcohol. I had the flu right at the start of my chosen sobriety and had to take some cough mixture. Not enough to get me drunk, and it wasn’t coz I wanted to get drunk that I was drinking it. But that is another story.

Anyway, 30 days. In a row as well. I am not adding up week days and taking weekends out of the picture. This has been a full-on assault on liver recovery. It has been an interesting experience and I thought that I would share my warped and holier than thou opinions on how this went for me and what I think I have learned. The fact is that along with all human beings having some form of OCD (some mild, others extreme. I have to have my books organised so one side of my very mini library I have all my fiction books and the other side has all my non-fiction books), we also all have problems with addiction.

Of course, the addictions change from person to person, and from continent to continent. The news is awash with stories of strange addictions. They go from the harmless addictions (eating toilet paper) to the simply ludicrous (drinking your own urine).

Regardless it is important for us to look at how we treat our bodies, and maybe try take care of them a little bit better. The last time I stopped drinking for this long was a few years back when I was still at university in the UK. It was Lent and I decided that I was going to stop drinking for forty days and forty nights. It wasn’t THAT hard. All my friends became EXTREMELY annoying when they were drunk. I couldn’t stand the noise in the bars/clubs and I was tired before midnight and wanted to go home. I soldiered on, though. I still went out with the guys, still went and watched football but didn’t drink beer and at the end of it I didn’t learn anything because I think I was still too young.

Some of the Realisations

Well for one thing I have taken the term YOLO to heart. You only live life once. Enjoy it, cherish it and learn as much as you can. I don’t think YOLO means that you should go and be destructive in the maintenance of your body. Sure we are only here once, but rather make it a comfortable stay.

  1. Alcohol needs me more than I need alcohol: This was probably one of the first realisations that I made. Alcohol needs me to spend money on it. I don’t need alcohol in my system. I haven’t woken up with a hangover in the last 30 days, and boy does it feel good. I wake up on weekends full of energy, I am eating better and most of all I am sleeping much better than I have in a long time. Anything to excess is a problem. I didn’t need to get drunk when I used to get drunk. I only did because alcohol needed me to. My dad used to say something to me when I was terrorising him as a teenager: “Alcohol was there when Jesus was here. It is going to be here after you are gone.”. I never fully understood what he actually was talking about but now I understand. It’s not a new phenomenon. It was here before me and it will be here for a time to come. So I don’t need to act like I NEED alcohol.Nick Young 13092016092239.jpg
  2. Peers, Peers and Uncles: So then there are these guys. The friends and uncles. Most of my friends have been very supportive. Some of them have been confused by my decision to stop drinking. I think it’s because I was such a cool guy when I was drunk… or maybe because I used to help fund other people’s habits. I don’t know. I do know that a quick breakdown showed me that 65% of my friends were supportive, 5% didn’t think I was serious, 18% thought I was joking, 6% still don’t believe me and another 6% heaved a sigh of relief. Also my uncle said I wasn’t his nephew anymore coz I had stopped drinking. Interestingly a few of my peers were all for it and very very positive about the trip. My wife joined me a little bit late, but she’s also taking a bit of a liver detox.The Great Gatsby 13092016092145.jpg
  3. Will I ever stop drinking?: That’s not my intention just yet. I don’t think that I will be on it every weekend like I used to. I know that on my birthday, my wife’s birthday, my anniversary with my wife and for most of December (Silly Season) I will most likely have a few to a lot of alcohol beverages. Generally, though I think that I will keep a zero to the bare minimum consumption level of alcohol.
  4. Zimbabwe is very backwards: I keep telling people that Zimbabwe is still in the pre millennium stage. We haven’t hit the year 2000 yet. I say this because we still allow smoking indoors (clubs and even restaurants), companies that sell cigarettes are still allowed to advertise their products and the dangers of alcohol are still not being told to people.savanna-advert-of-their-pacific-brand-behind-bat-at-rothmans-in-harare

 

I think it is also time for us as adults and the ones who are supposed to be the shining example of those who are following us, to be a bit more serious about the things we do to excess. It makes no sense sometimes. We don’t drive around at 200km/hr. We stick to the speed limit because there is a danger of having an accident. Well why do we then want to drink enough for a few people and repeatedly without taking any days of rest? The liver may be a resilient organ that recovers quite quickly from the workouts we put it through. That doesn’t mean that recovery should be its default position. John Jonah Jameson Laughing 13092016094257.jpg

Anything in excess is bad for you. I believe that the sum of our problems cannot and will not be solved by getting drunk regularly. There is no need to get drunk everyday. There is nothing at all that you will be proving. When I was younger life was always a competition. It stops being a competition because the only race you can win is your own race. There is no medal for proving to everyone else that you know that you are a bigger drinker. In fact, it’s more a weight around your neck being known as the village drunk.

Life is too short. YOLO

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The Problem(s) With Black People (Especially Zimbabweans)

Gosh for the longest time I have avoided going into this but I feel as though the time has come for me to really get some shit off my chest. There are a few people who might read this and get annoyed and frankly good. There are some real truths that we need to admit that are greatly slowing down our progress and keeping us as niggas and not becoming black people.

1. Lack of helping each other: Now this is something that might be special to black Zimbabweans. What is wrong with helping your fellow brother? We have this really weird mentality that it’s better to see another nigga fail that helping him achieve what he is setting out to. Instead of growing a business by letting someone with skills that are lacking in your business, we would rather try and go at it alone. Whats the point? It makes NO sense. Instead of pooling our information resources and growing something, most feel that nigga tendency of just taking it like its their own.

2. NOT LISTENING: Oh this one really gets me. Again quite special to black Zimbabweans. We don’t listen. We hear and our brains immediately translate it into something else that we want to hear and then it takes off from there. We also by not listening do like to give people a chance to express our opinion. You must have the same opinion as everyone else. This comes down to the beer you drink, where you drink it, how you drink it, how you hold it. If you don’t do it my way you don’t know what you are talking about or what you are doing. How the hell are we supposed to progress if this is how we think? Like come on! Opinions are like assholes. We all have one. We are entitled to those opinions. If I don’t like Nandos, it’s coz I don’t like Nandos. Not coz I am a lost soul who got dropped as a baby. Come on!

3. Accepting change: Now this one also refers to the older black Zimbabweans that we have hanging around still. I was at the local sports club having a few drinks and there were three elders (older members. Near or around retirement age) having their usual vodka and coke. I wasn’t taking much interest in their conversation till I heard one of them pointing at me and saying “These vapfana (youngsters) should be the ones running this club now…” before he could finish another elder who was there immediately refused and said no (see point no.2). He tried to explain how I wouldn’t be equipped to do the job as if I had agreed already. The other elder tried to explain that yes due process would need to be done inorder for it to be transitional blah blah blah. But the elder who first rebuked such an idea was still very much against it.
I don’t mind much. If the club dies with them, well what can I do. Times are changing though. They aint getting any younger and can’t be the decision makers for ever now can they? Man it’s 2015 in the rest of the world but here in Zimbabwe it’s just hit the millennium. Time has moved on…. like a lot! But we still acting like it aint.

4. Stealing Ideas: You know this is a classic one. You can’t trust a nigga as far as you can throw them. And most of them have dense bones so it makes it very hard to throw a nigga far at all. Now here in lies the problems. I have always thought that if I have an idea, if I tell someone that idea they might see a gap I missed, they might fill a gap I missed, or they might help me take that idea from inception to conception. Nah Zimbabwean niggas will take that idea and try run it themselves. There is nothing wrong with that idea. They would sooner run the idea into the ground and fail with it that dream of the possibility of you doing it and it taking off. Like seriously? What the actual fuck? Yeah niggas are hungry, struggling and all. But that shit aint right man.

5. Pulling other niggas down: It feels like black Zimbabweans are in a barrel of shit. The only way we can make it to the safety of the top of the barrel where the rarefied sweet fresh air is, is by pulling other niggas down and climbing over them. Instead of trying to help each other it would be better to leave a brother lurching… on his own.. smelling of shit.

You see I always use this example to explain what the problem with black Zimbabweans is. If I have a pie and I own 100% of it I am happy. But I won’t share that 100% of the pie with someone else, even if it means that my, say 40% is worth more than my previous 100%. Why? We want it all.

Aint no progress that’s gonna happen if some niggas don’t wake up! Those are my random thoughts for today. Peace

P.S. There are probably another 15 reasons, but due to time constraints, I was unable to do all of the reasons in this sitting… There maybe another sitting with a few more problems

Well Hello There….

Wow it has been a long time since I got a chance to share some of my random stupid thoughts here. I think its actually a bad thing that I stopped coz I still think this was my of self counselling. I blame work. It’s odd that I blame work for interfering with a hobby. Work isn’t supposed to interfere with hobbies. Hobbies are supposed to be managed around time spent at work. But that is the case in my life. Unfortunately I have been put on a rather boring project that seems to be finally coming to an end. I have always said how I love the construction industry because you can never have two identical projects. It is simply impossible because of the unknown conditions that will be encountered on the site and also what may be happening economically globally. I think fate decided to laugh at me and I got sent to a low cost housing project.

My Site
My Site

The thing is with this project, once you have built one block of the little houses, you have basically completed the project. What I mean by that is that it is basically repetition. Doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over (700+ times) again. The challenges that are faced on site are the same. The only thing that changes is the day of the week and the manner in which the challenge is expressed (either angry, bored, tired, frustrated or confused).

Low water table
Low water table

I’m enough of waking up at 5am to try get here by 7am. It’s actually done my head in now. I actually want the project to come to an end now. And it almost is. I am afraid of fate though. I could end up being sent into the middle of the bush for an undisclosed time. I am fortunate that I am on a project that’s actually in Harare. I guess there are somethings to be grateful for.

In other news:

Must watch TV:

1. Luther (Starring Idris Alba. British show. Super TV. Shout out to Herb for getting me on it)

2. Downton Abbey (British show [Again]. Super TV [Again]. Shout out to Herb [Again])

3. Misfits (British show [Again]. Super TV [Again]. Not sure who put me on it, but shout out to Chris for checking to see if there was season 4 and 5 floating in the internets)

The other stuff going on in my life I am not ready to share with you guys as it’s too private at the moment. When the time is right all shall be revealed… (I write this like anyone actually reads this).

Till the next episode I guess…

That Zimbabwean Life...

Its been a while

Due to work related issues, and also a heat that has been almost beyond believable, I have been awfully inactive with regards to this blog-o-mine. Strangely enough, I also haven’t had any random conversations that were good enough for me to remember and then to follow up with a ramble about. Maybe its a good thing. Maybe it means that I have run out of relevant things and all that’s left for me to do is to share with you the intimate things that grind my gears.

1. Econet Wireless

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Not sure what change they have made in my world except wanting to leave them

Ok. So for those of you who don’t know Econet are a mobile provider and claim to have the largest subscriber base here at home. The reason why I say claim is because most people have had more than one line at any time. I think I have about three lying around. Anyway they recently decided to continue raping their customers when they recently decided that 30c wasn’t enough to make a phone call. Also if you have more than 30c and you make a phone call you get cut off once it gets below 30c. I mean, who the hell does that? Also does that mean whenever we buy airtime we should be buying them in multiples of 0.70c and not multiples of 1?

And (I know its poor grammar to start a sentence with the word “and”) how can you charge people 9c for a text message? That’s pure insanity. Like how did they come to the conclusion that that’s a fair price. I read an interesting article. Econet were boasting about how they had spent around $1.2 BILLION US DOLLARS on investments in Zimbabwe.

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Some of the figures aren’t really proven as far as I am concerned. I am also a sceptic in my spare time

I was like WOW….. that’s a shitload…. how come I have NO idea what ANY of these investments have been? Coz that’s a lot of money to invest without telling one or 200 000 people, “Hey that was us Econet investing in that.”. In fact the article goes on to say that “more than 50 000 direct and indirect jobs had been created, more than 20 000 small businesses had been sustained by the company and in excess of 25 000 young people are now employed selling airtime and other services.” Oh ya by the way, the margins that these guys make for every dollar of airtime they sell is less than 10c per dollar they sell… its minimal. They are being shafted.

Evil Corporation 1 – Ensign 0

2. Harare Drivers

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This is a typical no traffic lights no rain situation. I don’t have a no traffic lights plus rain situation pic…. yet.

It’s like there is an unwritten law in the Highway Code of Zimbabwe that says “Should there be a loss of power at a set of traffic light and/or rain, all drivers are to forget how to drive on the roads and the rules of the road are no longer relevant.”. I mean most drivers in Harare are bad, but just kill the power to a traffic light, throw in some rain and you have instant gridlock. It’s as if some drivers decide the world is coming to an end coz these traffic lights aren’t working and it’s raining. So now… it’s a fight for survival! The funny thing is that when you go to smaller towns, the drivers are so chilled, the pedestrians aren’t dodging cars, cars stop at zebra crossings, they don’t jump red lights. Hell in Harare (you would think the capitol would lead by example) its lawless on the roads. For a pedestrian trying to cross a zebra crossing, it’s their responsibility to only cross when it’s clear or they think they can make it.

Harare Drivers 1 – Ensign 1 (I have adapted and I know the ways of the crazed Harare driver)

3. Overpriced Electronics

It has been proven that in Zim, after something electronic is imported, after duties and all the relevant taxes are placed on that item. There is one more tax that is added which I have come to name the Zimbo tax. I find it hard to fathom how a second hand PS3 game at the FLEA MARKET is 50 bucks. Come on! I mean most of these games the won’t even have the inside cover of the games. This really irks me coz I have no inkling to buy electronic goods here at home. More over with the way I like THINGS, they are over priced for me at home! No man… not cool

Overpriced Electronics 1 – Ensign 0

It’s not a race if you are the only one participating – Me