Very often, you hear the words “resilient” and “innovative” attached to Zimbabwean people. But what most outsiders don’t know is that to be Zimbabwean, one must speak a language only known to the countrymen and women. Anyone can learn to speak Zimbabwean.
If you are not Zimbabwean, learn these words:
Magetsi – Electricity
ZESA– Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
ZWD – Zimbabwe dollar
Power cuts – the Zimbabwean struggle
In Zimbabwe we are going through load Shedding. This means that we have no magetsi for 20 hours every day. Our magetsti comes on at 10pm, (if you lucky) and goes off at 5am.
This means we have to go everything possible during that time frame. We cook, iron, do laundry, water gardens, charge EVERY battery operated gadget, watch TV,
use Wi-FI, run boreholes, fill up any container that can carry water, download movies, use Whatsapp like there is no tomorrow and sit and admire the lights whilst wondering if tonight will be your unlucky night and the magetsi will go off any second. All this happens
between 10pm and 5am, so all Zimbos are online at odd hours. Using generators has become so expensive, as diesel is hard to get and you can’t run the genni for 20 hours. Liquid petroleum gas has also become expensive and hard to find. In fact, anything one needs for normal, day-to-day life normally has tripled in price. This includes candles.
But wait…our magetsi costs less in UDS$ than most of our neighbouring countries.
Queuing – a Zimbabwean pastime
Those who can then head off to the fuel queue to wait for diesel or petrol at 4am. On arrival, they find they are car number 150 in the queue and pray that they will get fuel when they hit the pumps. So at 3pm, they finally hit the pump and get lucky enough to get ZWD20 worth
of fuel. Enough to go to work, where they find out there is no magetsi, leave early to go shopping. At the shop, they take a trolley and walk out with 2 items that are beyond essential. The rest we will term a “luxury” as the price tripled over night. Let me stop here and introduce you to the Zimbabwe Dollar.
Let’s talk about money
For many years we used multiple currencies. That is United States dollar, South African
Rand, Botswana Pula and, in rare cases, the British Pound. Last month, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe put an end to all this and introduced the Zimbabwe dollar – ZWD. But this money does not exist. We have never seen it or used it. However, it does encompass
RTGS – Real Time blablabla…sort of like internet banking, mobile banking and swipe card payments all rolled into one.
Ecocash – Mobile money payable via the largest mobile network in the country.
Bond note – physical money, available in $2 and $5 denominations plus coins.
So there you have it…that’s what our ZWD means. Moving on…
Water, water, water
Most of our suburbs have not had municipal water for 20 years. That means people have had to sink boreholes or buy water in 5000l tanks. Those who have municipal water are constantly cut off. When you phone them and someone dares to answer, the response is as follows:
‘Sorry we can’t supply water for the next week as we do not have magetsi to pump water.’
So you call ZESA to ask about the magetsi. Their response is as follows:
‘Sorry we do not have water to generate magetsi’
*Insert laugh here because this is funny*
Zimbabwe’s NOTwork problems
Then we have very bad network during the day so most of us are now night owls and do all our work during the time when we are supposed to be sleeping. Our mobile data and Wi-FI are more expensive than most countries, but our service is appalling. When there is load shedding we have very bad reception. This is a blessing in some ways because we
end up saving our precious battery time…and saving on data.
Finding good in a bad situation
No, we do not live in a war-torn country and are not at war. We are simply suffering 40 years of mismanagement, corruption and greed.
Well, why am I telling you this? Because Zimbos (that is us Zimbabweans) have learnt to make a plan, work around, become resilient, all the while making jokes and laughing about the situation. Zimbos are the friendliest people you can find. In fuel queues, people will share their coffee with you, talk about new innovative ways they have worked around the magetsi issue and make new lasting friendships.
There is so much more to Zim, but one thing you will always find is a warm smiling face!
We are slowly becoming leaders in green energy as many people are now going off the grid, and leaders in electronic money as we hardly see cash. So maybe this hard lesson is not a bad thing.