Every mile is two in winter          - 2/6/2011      <--Prev : Next-->

Every mile is two in winter. George Herbert

Winter may be a happy time in Zim but it is certainly not a very happy time for Zimbabweans living in exile in South Africa. There are reported to be 3 million Zimbabweans living lives of quiet desperation south of the border, and a great many of them live in that most difficult of all cities to live in - Johannesburg.

Winter in Gauteng is notoriously cold, freezing nights, and often biting days too. Johannesburg is inhospitable to Zimbabweans, their work ethic is good, making them disliked by their South African counterparts, and Xenophobia still rears its ugly jealous head every so often.

Driving in Johannesburg in our trusty old "Banger" with Zim number plates, always brings me great sadness in winter. Today was bin day and almost every bin was occupied. Men in blankets, women with babies on their backs, enterprising men with trollies and old converted prams, dig deep into the trash of the suburban middle class. They may be busy foraging and feeding from someone else's scraps, but when they see my Zim number plate, without exception, their faces light up with delight.

They start waving, shouting and giving me the the universal "thumbs up" sign - they are warmed if only momentarily, from the biting cold, just to see a face from home.

It always entrances me as to just how innovative our Zimbabweans are ! There is Edward Moyo, a painter, and he has strung up a line of paint brushes, rollers and paint tins on a piece of line, advertising his skills. There is is Cephas Mpofu outside Home Affairs, complete with a photocopy machine operated by a small battery, who photo copies your documents for a couple of rand ! I stopped to accept a flyer from Mischeck Dube, he had hand written hundreds of tiny flyers advertising himself as a handyman. Paper is at a premium, printing costs not in his budget, the piece of paper was so tiny but I could just manage to read it. Accompanied by a giant set of molars, I engaged Mischeck to do a spot of carpentry for me !

There are hundreds of Zimbos working in the cafes and restaurants, most of the attendants on fuel forecourts are Zimbos. I often take a while to chat and socialize, Zimbabweans are such friendly open folk. We discuss the economy that is slowly turning, we discuss the rains, we discuss our homes, and our longing for a safe, non political life.

The question everyone asks anxiously is "How are things at home", their faces always relax when I tell them things are a lot better, goods are now available on the shelves, the folks back home are certainly looking a lot healthier than prior to the GNU in 2008/2009 when people were virtually starving to death.

Most of our Diasporans don't really care who is in power, most just want things to return to normal, so they can return home and bring their families up in comparative safety and prosperity. I wish it was summer again, my heart breaks for My Countrymen, so far from home, so cold and yet with a burning desire for just one thing, that keeps them warm.

That one thing being "To come home" and they are all biding their time, waiting for just "One Thing".