Running amok

6 05 2009

It even made the Poetry Cafe where they read poetry every day at HIFA. A woman claiming to be a genuine war veteran (she was about my age so it was possible) said as part of a recital that a white farming family in Chegutu, some 70km out along the Bulawayo road, had been forced to frog jump all day in their underwear for “not obeying the rule of looting”. I confirmed that this area had been badly affected from a customer this afternoon though he did not know about this particular incident. 

The Poetry Cafe can be an interesting place and at times has an air of rebelliousness that can be quite exciting. The poets can be quite outspoken though there are not that many of them which I guess is why the thought police tend to leave the place alone. One show in particular this year that was surprisingly audacious was Beauty and the B.E.E. Put on at one of the theatres it was a political satire by a white South African male dressed as a black South African business woman. He skewered and insulted local and South African politicians, including our honourable president, men, women, blacks, coloureds, Indians, maids… Nobody was spared. It was very funny and he got away with it. Three performances were held to capacity audiences! Are the thought police slacking? Who knows!

Chatting to a black customer who comes from Bindura north of Harare this afternoon, he asked me what crops he could grow. It seems that his market has vanished. The mines in that area that were the mainstay of the economy have all closed due to falling prices and erratic power supplies. I couldn’t really help. Amazingly he was optimistic. He’d bought his farm in 1996 and it had done him well. He seemed to think he could survive. An unusual fellow he was very well spoken and had his hair in a pony tail – something you don’t see in blacks often. Even in the arts world.

South Africa has removed the requirement for Zimbabweans to get a visa to visit. I have speculated and discussed this with customers at length and the consensus is that it has to do with the World Cup next year. Zimbabweans are prized workers and often better educated than their South African counterparts (most speak English passably well). We’ll have to see if they have a change of heart.

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4 responses

7 05 2009
Big Blister

There is a native American writer, Sherman Alexie, who is hilarious and makes fun of whites and his own people. Making fun of whites is always OK, but the other isn’t – unless one is one of them. So it’s interesting that cross-dressing and color provides this licence.

7 05 2009
gonexc

Yes, and being “female” to boot seems to help. Curious. There have been a number of male “cross dressers” who have used this; I can think of Pieter Dirk Uys (SA) and Barry Humphries (Australia) who have feminine alter egos.

8 05 2009
Big Blister

I think you should write an article (+ pics) on the two faces of Zimbabawe – art and dysfunction – to contrast those aspects of life. Amazing dysfunction and then people who continue to practise the arts in spite of it all, or to maintain theie sanity. That PE jazz player does not look like a product of extreme hardship (perhaps he is well connected).

Send it to some international magazines so people can read about a different side and how to continue und duress. e.g National Geographic. I’m serious!

8 05 2009
gonexc

Two players in the Prince Edward School Jazz band play semi-professionally – they are that good. He was not one of them but I could not help but notice that their “best” clothes were a touch shabby – they are there because they cannot afford to go to private schools. PE is one of the better government schools around but they still struggle. When private schools have a sports fixture against them they often send their own bus to pick the team/s up.

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