Every weekday in Bulawayo at 4 pm exactly, the daily shoe polishing routine would begin.The day's shoes would be neatly laid out on the back kitchen step. Black, brown and neutral with the shoe polish to match. A brown brush and polishing cloth for the brown shoes, a black brush and polishing cloth for the black shoes etc etc. And the ritual would commence..
Half an hour solid of brushing, polishing and the daily chit chat. It was as synonymous with the peaceful daily life of a bygone era, as was the clang of the dustbin lid..Whether there was one pair of shoes or six, the ceremony would last the same length of time, during which, the Housekeeper would enlist the help of the Master of Shoe Polishing Ceremonies, aka Gardener, to fold and stretch the sheets for the daily ironing. Zimbabwean sheets cannot be tumble dried for some reason, they have to be folded and well and truly stretched at all four corners, before they are subjected to the tender mercies of the Mazoe Iron!!
Sebastian was a whiz at shoe polishing, trouble was he was colour blind!! In a small round tin was the much desired Nugget shoe polish. Black, brown, red or suede it was one and the same... Courtney boots or Bata Vellies.. no problem, they received the same dedicated, loving attention. Takkies too were scrubbed to death and then white shoe paste was lathered over the sole and the white bits.
Vellies or Veldskoens were given extra special TLC !! Washed and scrubbed copiously and then smothered in the ubiquitous Roller Meal, stuffed with yesterday's Chronicle Newspaper and set to dry in the wonderful, blissful, Zimbabwe sun.
Aah newspapers, I could write a whole blog on the value of the Zimbabwean Chronicle and Herald!!
Now when one is away from Zimbabwe, they don't seem to ever polish shoes One sees a lot of shoe-shine booths at airports and railway stations, but even with SheHooMust Wear Kevlar being married to a military man, one seldom comes across shoe polishing in our family, whilst out of Zimbabwe.
How I miss that banal, comforting, endearing daily ritual.