…women, kids play yesteryear games
By Simbarashe Musaki
The lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic has rewound social life to the early 1990’s, as adults and children have reverted to yesteryear games, such as, Mafurawu, Rhaka Rhaka and Pada.
These games have also taken attention of families off their television sets, as the panacea to movement restrictions boredom.
Citizens, including street kids and victims to controllable paroxysms of laughter for no apparent reasons deserted the Central Business District (CBD), heeding President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call to curb the Coronavirus spread, leaving social activities to residential areas where people’s actions are tantamount to defying to stay indoors.
Streets have become a playground for all ages with ghetto dwellers playing plastic balls in the middle of the road with boisterous excitement, while dust coated and half naked minors indefinitely missing their ECD lessons are seen playing, throwing dust at another not knowing the exact cause of the open-ended holiday.
The educative and sportive skipping rope games are among the popular games played in the streets by female adults and children. ‘Fish-Fish’ is the favourite of many, the game is played in a spelling teaching man, such as, chanting fish, fish spell your name F.I.S.H.
Checkers has topped the male adults’ entertainment arena, while the two players will be concentrating, moving bottle tops trying to outwit each other.
Meanwhile, bystanders usually gossip the prospects of government uplifting the lockdown and reminiscing the good old days of the Government of National Unity (GNU) era and the multi-currency regime.
Tap water scarcity turned Hunyani River to a swimming pool for nearby Chitungwiza and Harare residents, who can be seen in broad day light plunging half naked into its cool living water, taking a bath, while others warming themselves, watching the serpentine movement around the rocks and hearing its ceaseless monotonous murmurs, while insects keeps the atmosphere alive with their incessant buzz.
At evening, prior to playing hide and seek games, residents of illegal settlements known as ‘Kunhanho’, where electricity connection is chimerical, high pitched sounds of voices are heard singing a popular children’s song, Shiri yakanaka unoendepi? Huya huya titambe. Ndirikuenda kuenda kumakore (Beautiful bird, where are u going? Come, come and let’s play. I am going to the clouds….).
Stork birds’ admirers usually shout with joy, singing ‘teacher pamberi, vana kumashure’, (teacher at the front, children behind) upon seeing the white birds flying in an inverted ‘V’ shape onrush to their nests.
The lockdown has turned quite a number of citizens to athletes, as morning jogs and walks have become common with some residents having a stroll with their dogs.
Rank marshalls, satirically known as ‘Mahwindi’, who used to swear by the graves of their relatives that they will never leave the city centre have been reduced to gamblers in their hood, gambling poker games at ghetto shopping centers at their usual high density ranks, while essential service providers commuting to the city center mill about, anxiously, waiting for ZUPCO buses – the only recommended transport which recognizes social distancing – holding their roadblock passes.
Beerhalls, where people went to drown their memories of yesterday and their hopes and fears of tomorrow were banned, leaving drunkards with no option except to stay indoors, watching African movies with their families, most of them which provided an intriguing concoction of Christianity and witchcraft.
Groups of women gossiping about where to find subsidized basic commodities has become a regular feature, while men gather sharing the Supreme Court judgment regarding the MDC leadership wrangle, predicting what will happen after lockdown.
On the spiritual aspect, the trusted popular Nigerian Prophet T.B Joshua became talk of the town prior to the lockdown with his prophecy predicting the disappearance of coronavirus with or without medication by March 27, 2020, which however, did not come to pass, leaving people hopeless.
Prominent United States based local Prophet Passion Java has overtaken comic pastor with his comedy skits, encouraging people to stay indoors publicizing his year 2020 theme: ‘Gore Regonzo’ (Year of the Rat), equating the lockdown to a rat’s lifestyle, which stay indoors, only goes out to look for food and returns indoors, without offering a spiritual solution, as anticipated by his multitudes of followers.
Local traditional healers, including the feared and trusted ones of the Chipinge origins, which suggested phenomenal potency as both spiritualists and herbalists failed to pitch up, much to the chagrin of many.
The African traditional belief that funerals are a society affair, where the community gathers to offer sympathy and solidarity to the living and helping in the burial has been reduced to a family affair due to Coronavirus’ preventive measures.
Covid-19 has killed many people worldwide and Zimbabwe having only four deaths so far, anybody who opines that the government had done nothing in fighting the pandemic is demagogic and indulging in cheap politics.