Harare Avenues Now In A Sorry State

You can always tell how hungry Harare is by the amount of skin on display at street corners in the Avenues.


Someone must be hungry tonight because there is so much skin for sale lining these streets. Someone else must be hungry because there are so many headlights zooming up and down these roads looking for satisfaction.

There is much more skin here than I remember ever seeing before. Unabashed, unapologetic, omnipresent.

This is the skin of our hard won freedom. You choose the one you want. But this progress. Before independence, we did this in Mbare. Now we’ve moved up to the Avenues.

And it is the men doing all the choosing from their heated cars, gleaming in each other’s headlights. The women stand out in the July cold; waiting, hoping.

This is the skin of our hard-won freedom and it flows from houses all over the city and all over the country. Devour me so I can eat. Devour me so my children can eat.

No one will pay for my brains. No one will pay for my skills. No one will pay for my 5 O’levels or university degree. So I’ll give them what they want in the way that they want it.

How much? $20 for a good time.If you don’t have that, give me $10.Ok, $5 but for a very short time. Really.
Harare Avenues Now In A Sorry State
Horight my brother, $3. But very very very short time.

This is the skin of our hard-won freedom. It’s illegal to do this, but nobody cares anymore. As with so many disallowed things, it proliferates. Survival is a higher calling than uprightness.

A Toyota truck stops next to a group of street kids and security guards warming themselves around a fire.

An airtime vendor in a cap that says ‘Sisonke’ steps forward. He is selling Buddie.

A young woman in short dress that says what those in charge want it to say steps forward too. She is selling her body.

Another young woman walks over to warm herself at the fire before disappearing down a dark street.

A policeman cycles past on his bicycle. I’m expecting to see another one come by. Nothing. He is alone. Strange. He rides past the street children and figures of scantily covered skin and does not say a word.

And headlights. Headlights – always on beam so they can shine upon skin and judge it. Too fat. Too thin. Too much fake hair. Ah, that one. I’ll take that one. Brakes. Negotiation. Pick up. Acceleration.

And all this skin used to hide in the shadows, afraid of arrest. But now there is no hiding. No shy. No slipping away into dark corners.

Now it stands brazenly out in the open. There are loud yells across the block from one corner to another. “Do you have a cigarette? Mine are finished.”

A car turns off 5th Street onto Herbert Chitepo Avenue. It slows down and a woman screams from within, “Whores! Leave our men alone!”

Skin responds viciously, “You’re the whore! If you kept your man happy he wouldn’t be coming to us!” Then a barrage of expletives as if from a machine gun.

As they scream at each other, ho_rny headlights keep swinging into the road.
A kombi slows down, speeds up, flies into the intersection and does a U-turn then stops. There is a murmur of negotiations. The door slides open. Skin steps in and they’re off.

It’s a busy night. Five outlines in one corner. Two across from them. And three others about half a block down.

It is the end of the month. A good time for business. Those who got paid have money.

A Mercedes sedan comes flying round the corner and screeches to a halt, almost running into targeted skin. Skin leaps out of the way.

The door flings open and a man staggers out, bottle in hand. They recede into the bushes and have a chat or something. I cannot tell.

This is the skin of our hard won freedom. Spoils for those with money to spend. We don’t see them as women anymore. That would be too hard. It’s skin for our pleasure. We use as we are used.

In the greater scheme of things, we’ve all been reduced to skin, standing at some corner. And we’re begging someone for dollars, but we’ll take whatever we’re given – even the bond notes when they come.
Source: Zimbo Jam

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