The Bulawayo Flower Sellers          - 5/ 7/ 2005      <--Prev : Next-->


The Bulawayo Flower sellers outside the City Hall in Bulawayo have been an institution for as long as I have been alive and trust me that is an extremely long time !!

A favourite and enchanting tourist trap featured in every tourist publication on Bulawayo since the inception of the city. But now they are no more thanks to the strange behaviour of the Government known as Operation Murambatsvina !!

Gone is Ma Moyo with her colourful buckets of baby's breath and carnations brought in fresh each day from the Martins' farm - Ponderosa which is now of course no more at any rate....

And if Colin and Judy did not have a wedding on that week, you could sometimes get a precious bunch of Saint Joseph's' Lilies from Ma Moyo which was a real treat for the home.

Gone is old Willie Ndlovu with his half dead roses and the agapanthas he used to "borrow" on his way to work every morning !!

Gone are the predictable ready made posies and wreaths which were so popular for weddings, funerals and just to say "I love you" or just to say "I love Life".

On the northern end of the City Hall mall were the curio sellers selling everything and anything in wood, wire or soapstone.

Gone is that awful rapscallion Solomon who would add four zeros onto the price of a wooden hippo the minute he heard an American accent, but would reduce it quickly when you spoke even a word of Ndebele !!

Gone are the worm sellers who could discuss most knowledgeably the merits and de merits of the thin red worms as opposed to the fat brown earthworms in the art of catching tiger or bream at Kariba (in spite of the fact that they had never gone further than Nyamandhlovu in their lives !!

Gone are the placid ladies who sat day in and day out, legs stretched ramrod straight in front of them, crocheting and knitting doilies and tablecloths festooned with pretty beads.

Remember those little covers weighed down with blue, red or green beads, that were used to cover the milk and the sugar bowls back in the days when gentility was paramount ?

Gone are the touts and the tricksters, an integral part of the tableau of every society the world over, who would rush up to you and drag you over to someone else's stall where they would expertly talk you into believing that this particular hand- carved bowl was exactly the one you needed to send to Aunty Clara in New Zealand, and then he would fix his own inflated price which included his cut of the takings!

The wire toy sellers will be missed too. Such ingenuity was displayed by these dextrous young men, who could fashion anything out of wire "borrowed " from someone's farm fence or from the telephone wires leading to someone's property !!

Gone are the livelihoods and possibly the very lives of people who have lived in Bulawayo, paid rental on their flower stalls, and who are now totally destitute with no means of survival.

Artists, painters, sculptors, wood carvers, floral artists, an incredible wealth of talent has been decimated in one ruthless sweep of absolute power