Ghetto revival: everyone’s responsibility

Proudly Zimbabwean

Zimbabwean men carry flags of their country on the main road of Marondera.

So, I met a long lost friend at a workshop a few weeks ago. Happy and excited to see someone I knew for a great part of my life; someone I used to play soccer with in the dusty streets of Norton, I rushed to him overjoyed.

Lost identity

As I greeted him, my glee was met with this cold reception that made me calm and “follow the flow”. My Shona street lingo was met with a phony accent as he tried by all means to sound ‘learned’ and affluent.

I tried to start a conversation, talking about how long it’s been since we last met and asking what he has been up to, only to get more coldness and resistance.

I’m talking of someone who used to come to watch cartoons at my place. Someone who could come to eat at our house and I would do the same at his. Someone I once counted on to have my back, and I his.

Well, people do change as they age, I accepted who he was now and moved on to meet other people.

I later found out that this old friend had been to the States for his varsity and was recently back working for a local insurance company.

Like he no longer understood our ghetto lingo, he has also moved to the other side of Samora Machael Avenue.

Come to think of it almost everyone I grew up with, who has made enough to move to afford rentals in the low density suburbs has moved, some even barely affording the lifestyle but straining their budgets doing so.

Those who are left with the struggles of our ghettos are often labeled marombe.

Shared duty

Who then is to stay and develop what we grew up around? Definitely not our urban councils who have evidently  failed already.

Looking at it, if anyone who has come from the hood and is proud of their area enough to develop them, our ghettos will not be in the sorry state they are.

How can we stand and watch while all the recreational facilities like community centres and swimming pools have been turned into places where residents go in to dump their waste, when council vehicles do not pitch to collect them?

I feel it is the duty of us as residents,  as much as it is for the councils, to make our areas habitable.

People in the low density areas well understand the notion, that’s why their areas look better, despite them having a far smaller population.

They often contribute towards security and revitalizing their roads. They help stock their libraries and maintain their parks.

Some even offer the urban councils resources to aid in the upkeep of their areas and, in line with their efforts, they get to live pretty.

Ghetto heroes

We may say ghettos are where the poor live but how many rich came from them?

Let’s start with the likes of our president who once lived in Highfields, left for Statehouse, then on to his multimillion dollar Borrowdale mansion.

Look at the Philip Chiyangwas, music star Oliver Mtukudzi, the famed prophets Emmanuel Makandiwa and Walter Magaya, sports men Peter Ndlovu and Nigel Munyati.

In fact every famed ‘rich’ guy has come from,  or once lived in, the ghetto.

Circle of apathy

So I always ask myself, do we hate our roots so much that we rather ignore them and move on to what others have nurtured ?

Now we even have our youth, especially teenagers , who disassociate themselves from the ghetto when around their ‘uptown’ peers.

I don’t think they will be ashamed if we all take our part in urban renewal and make our streets as clean and as safe.

Let’s make our hood the place we dream of moving to, and if we still want to move after that, at least we would have made a difference for those who come after us.

They will also fill the duty of making our communities a better place and I believe this could make us as proud of who we are and where we coming from.

Instead of seeking greener pastures, why not water where we are until it’s green?

What can you do to make your community a better place?


Kundai is a 25 year old freelance journalist. He is the founder and Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Arts Journalists Association (ZAJA), a not for profit organization that seeks to improve arts news content through promotion of freedom of speech and objectivity in art and culture journalism. In line with this vision, he has also set up ‘Spiked‘, a news website together with some colleagues.