I have this game I play with myself sometimes where I try to think of a person or a thing that I haven’t thought about in years. An annoying coworker of a woman I dated. A scene from a movie I forgot I’d seen. A shot I made in a pickup game in high school. It’s a fun – well, fun for me – way of testing my memory and my ability to recall sh*t that’s been tucked away because it’s inessential.
I’ve been playing an altered version of this game recently, where I try to think of people I haven’t seen and things I haven’t done in a year. And what’s surprising me is that it never feels like it’s been a year. It just doesn’t feel like it’s been at, least, 12 months since I went out to actually enjoy a mere musical concert, sat and worked from the rooftop of the Meikles Hotel, or do a bae-llery tours at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe or got bacon and eggs at the Rainbow Towers, or saw my cousin and her kids.
The pandemic has done a thing to my brain where time has been compressed into a shoebox, perhaps because there have been fewer new memories—we barely even have distinguishable days and weekends—so the memories made right before the compression began are still fresh because they haven’t been packed away yet to make room. Maybe, in order to cope, my brain is treating this like it would a bad day, or a nightmare. Or maybe those memories stay so fresh because I yearn to feel and snuggle with and taste them again.
Last year, exactly on this day, I remember so vividly writing this paragraph:
“There’s no normal anymore, Zimbabwe. Can’t you see it? It’s now marked all over our faces, our voices? Can’t you see the horror of it? Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo has just confirmed the death of young and prominent media personality Zororo Makamba who was under hospital care at Wilkins Hospital in Harare. The thirty years old son of the businessman James Makamba succumbed to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease that causes a respiratory illness with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing……I know that sometimes when faced with a life-altering and potentially life-ending crisis, the performance of resilience can be an anaesthetic; an anxiety-engulfing balm that allows us to make space for an effective counter-punch. Also, it just feels good to tell ourselves, and others that “We got this” and “We’re built for this.” But if there’s any message that the immunologists and geneticists and epidemiologists are committed to communicating to us, it’s that COVID-19 is so deadly because our immune systems just haven’t seen this before, either black, brown, orange or white. The only effective defence is to admit to ourselves, now, that “We don’t got this” and “We’re not built for this.” And then, well, change.”
To say 2020 was surreal would be an understatement. Many people have faced challenges that would have been unimaginable to them just one year ago, and daily life looks nothing like it used to due to COVID-19 restrictions. Routines and patterns are how we keep track of information and time, so being thrown into a situation that you’ve never been in before can disorient, especially for those with mental health conditions who feel anchored by structure. Many people say the duration of the pandemic has felt like a time warp–days are blending together, and some months seem to fly by, while others feel never-ending. We’ve spent months stuck in the present moment and unable to plan for the future because there is no way to predict what each day would bring. You may be more hopeful now that vaccines are being approved, but if you still feel like the future doesn’t quite exist, you aren’t alone.
Now 365 later, the timeline has made it its business to harken us back in time to that very day that marked the beginning of a salient social, emotional, and economic whiplash, the sort of violence we just haven’t been able to process, and it’s still fine to admit that. The day that Zoro passed on.
This week (21 and 28 March 2021), friends and family of the departed prominent media personality are remembering the young icon with the hashtag #ZororoForever, and have urged people to release a white or green balloon or plant a tree in his memory.
Among many who have joined the family in remembering Zoro are media icons Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, Christopher Farai Charamba and Miami-based Zimbabwean hip-hop artist, and MC, Red Room host Kapcity who did a heartfelt tribute at a live show in Florida, USA.