Isdore Guvamombe

Back in the village in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, there is a village ode that says it is atypical for a drunken cock to forget the existence of a marauding hawk.

Village elders with cotton tuft hair, backed by generational wisdom premised on the knowledge passed from the autochthons, those first people, who saw the virginity of the sun, usually use an ode to decode and encode special messages.

For the avoidance of doubt on Thomases of village wisdom, an ode is a lyrical poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying in length of line, and complexity of stanza forms.

Throughout Zimbabwe it is common to come across a street named after our iconic leader, President Robert Mugabe but there is one town where that street, has lost the glitter, charisma, depth, flamboyancy and lustre that accompanies the name. Ode on Robert Mugabe Street, Harare!

Being the son of a villager, it is very uncomfortable roaming around the city centre at night but there are times when you are forced to.

I recently found myself driving along Robert Mugabe from the western side of Harare central Business District to the east, around 10 pm. Boy or boy!

Just before the intersection with Mbuya Nehanda Street- another iconic revolutionary- everything came to stand still. The hullabaloo started. Suddenly there was a hodgepodge of jaywalking people, the verandas were jam-packed with shops goods and vegetables, general dealer goods and alcohol, spread all over the place.

Cars parked at the centre of the road, converted into shops. The cars were in various shapes and forms, selling from the boot to the roof top or tray. I decided to park and ease congestion. It was a mistake. The traffic never eased. It became a cobweb and by 11 pm there was no easing.

I decided to talk a stroll to buy time. Ghostly figures of women, forever wearing propagandistic make up, far away from womb factory settings, criss-crossed, stopping here and there to buy from a multifarious array of goods on display, and shopping for men too. The women themselves were also goods on display, as men cast lustful eyes on their colourful ghostly figures- ranging from the onion-shaped to the pencil slim and from the tall to the shot.

Outside a banking hall, women with their children in tow lay in a long unmistakable bank queue shielding themselves from the cold in blankets. On their immediate front on the same pavement, vendors displayed vegetables, fruits to cosmetics and virtually everything you can get from general dealer shops.  There were second hand clothes and second hand shoes too, on display.

On the tar mark, the road was blocked by cars from which beer, whisky, trendy clothes and groceries were being sold. It was chaotic.

Motorists, forever frustrated by uncharacteristic congestion hooted and shouted obscenities.

At the intersection with Chinhoyi and Takawira, vendors with their trademark carts closed passage and Kombis did what they know best- violating all traffic rules and human rights. I wondered if I was still in Zimbabwe. Our Zimbabwe. My Zimbabwe!

The intersection with Julias Nyerere was the mother of all evil. Kombis to Chitungwiza and combined with their Eastern suburbs, give a recipe made in Hell. The situation there could have the Devil smile to eternity.

One thing for sure, there are no public toilets along Robert Mugabe Street. Fetid stuff is all over. Wafting bad smell from allays atone for nothing but a health time bomb- a real explosion. Men, women and children alike, relieve themselves in the dark corners along allays.

Back in the village do village elders not say a wood already torched with fire is not hard to set alight? What with cholera? What with typhoid? What with all health issues? The flies that feast on the fetid stuff from allays perch on fruits being sold in the open.

One wonders if we still have city fathers or goat skinners masquerading as city administrators. Ode on Robert Mugabe Street. It is the worst street in Harare.

Ode, ode, ode, ode, ode!