Source: Glittering colours of Mbare ghetto | The Herald September 28, 2019
Imagine a tour of Mbare without worrying about your safety or the safety of your belongings.
Just a stroll around the beautiful streets, visualising the old architecture that dates back from Rhodesia, colourful and heart-catching graffiti that is splashed on walls, the buzz from hooting buses departing the country’s busiest terminus bound for many destinations across Zimbabwe.
Imagine having your pick of fresh farm produce at the biggest farmers’ market in the country, or a walk through the Mupedzanhamo flea market with no worry of being fleeced.
Visualise meeting all the beautiful people, experiencing the ghetto culture hustle-free and having to meet many prominent people from the area, most of whom have changed the scape of both local arts and sport.
This is the Mbare many who grew up in want to share; the beauty their home has to offer.
They plan to change the narrative of cars being broken into or stripped of parts in mere minutes, pockets being searched or people being duped.
This is the ultimate experience of “Visit Mbare”, an initiative to demystify the horrific experiences and stories many share about the suburb. It is an unadulterated fun giving the best of the suburb.
“I know people worry about the safety of visiting our beautiful Mbare, after all, people are repeatedly warned not to explore the various recreational activities Mbare has, on their own,” said Visit Mbare founder Alfred Nenguwo.
“We are trying to change that by creating small events and tours where one can experience and be the judge.”
A year after coming up with the initiative, Nenguwo, who was born and raised in Mbare, has amassed interest from different groups many of whom previously stayed away from the suburb due to safety concerns.
“We tour Mbare with people from different walks of life but mostly locals who call us and show interest,” he said.
To Nenguwo, inspiration comes from a zeal to promote local businesses despite the negativity associated with the area.
Mbare has thriving small businesses which include, the Magaba Home Industry, the vegetable market, Mupedzanhamo flea market, fairly affordable small grocery shops, many car-breakers and second-hand vehicle parts shops among others.
Apart from the famous Chillspot Records Studios, there are also various other top arts and culture spots including the curio market, and the famous Mai Musodzi Hall, which used to be a hub for music and creativity.
At some point these used to be hot tourism spots but increasing criminal activity in the area has resulted in a decline in business.
“Having grown up in Mbare, the place just makes me feel safe and also inspires me to dream and participate in any initiative that will bring development and opportunities for other young people,” said Nenguwo.
“To me every place in Mbare is special, all depending on what you want to experience.”
To boost his enterprise and introduce the initiative on a mega scale, Visit Mbare will host a special event on October 5.
“Taking some steps, we are hosting the ‘7th Hangout’, an event that will happen in the afternoon so that people really see and experience what our beautiful Mbare has to offer.
“We will start with a tour at 10am, then a hangout where several DJs will be on decks,” said Nenguwo. “It will be an amazing mixture of food, music and fashion.”
Earning its name from the location, the event will be held (Corner Seventh Street and Mhlanga Avenue) in National. It will be hosted by popular music manager Vokal, while various celebrities from Mbare will be in attendance. This will be a launch-pad for weekly events and activities dedicated to open Mbare to “foreigners”.
“We will be initiating the first ‘Mbare Experience’ every Saturday where you will have me and some of my buddies as local guides to take you on the real Mbare experience”, said Nenguwo.
The best of creatives always see beauty in the ugliest of places. Mbare’s ugliness is really not the litter, congestion or ugly old buildings (if anything these makes it unique) but the bad reputation and criminality.
A brush of goodness through initiatives like Visit Mbare can go a long way in restoring the lost lustre. A gesture of good will in community restoration from those who successfully escaped the slum is needed. After all, Mbare is the home of many renowned musicians of our times like Killer T, Seh Calaz, Eve Kawadza and Kinnah as well as famous footballers like Archford Gutu, Lawrence Mwashita and Evans Gwekwerere among many others.
Obviously there is also need for better policing and reclaiming the area from criminality. Visitors have to feel safe to have an ultimate ghetto experience in Harare’s hub of activity, creativity and diversity.